Two counties experiencing contrasting fortunes in four-day cricket meet in an intriguing T20 Blast encounter, as Glamorgan host Essex at The SSE SWALEC tonight. The match marks Dale Steyn’s debut for the Welsh county, after his stint with the Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League (IPL) came to an end.
Steyn joins a Glamorgan side whose fortunes have quickly turned around after a difficult start to the season – and indeed Robert Croft’s reign as Head Coach. But Steyn claimed yesterday he is raring to go, after being deprived of bowling opportunities in India.
His friendship with Jacques Rudolph made the move possible and his arrival in Cardiff has been greeted with a mixture of surprise and delight by the Glamorgan faithful.
Rarely have Glamorgan fans seen a bowler with Steyn’s quality and pace grace the fields of The SSE SWALEC and the South African’s presence has created a buzz around this fixture.
The change in format from four-day cricket to T20 seemed to have an immediate effect on Glamorgan’s players, as they stormed to an eight-wicket win against Surrey in front of the SkySports cameras last week.
Timm van der Gugten led the way in that match, snaring four wickets and showing that raw pace is a danger in T20 cricket.
With Steyn in tow, Essex’s batsmen may be batting fairly deep in their crease tonight.
That performance against Surrey may have come out of the blue but it could also ignite Glamorgan’s season. They registered a much-improved display in the County Championship match between the two sides last week, securing a ‘winning’ draw, with Essex forced to stage a final day rearguard to avoid defeat.
But the visitors also boast a side packed with explosive T20 hitters and well-travelled professionals. Ravi Bopara is proven at this level and has long been a thorn in Glamorgan’s side, hitting an unbeaten 81 in the Eagles’ five-wicket win in South Wales last season. He captains the Eagles in the T20 Blast and is likely to open the innings.
Bopara will join New Zealander Jesse Ryder at the top of the Essex batting lineup, with the in-form Tom Wesley at Number Three and the nous of Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster down the order.
The Eagles pipped Glamorgan to the fourth quarter-final spot last season, with home and away victories and Glamorgan will have revenge on their minds this time around.
Date: Wednesday 1st June
Ground: SSE SWALEC Cardiff
Umpires: Nigel Cowley & Jeff Evans
Odds (SkyBet): Glamorgan 6/5, Essex 4