T20 Blast Preview: Hampshire v Glamorgan

It’s crunch time in the Natwest T20 Blast for Hampshire and Glamorgan, as with just three matches remaining, anything is possible in a tight South Group table.

The visitors to Southampton lead the pack, but their advantage is just two points and their position is hardly cemented – it is not inconceivable for them to not even earn a quarter-final berth.

That’s good news for Hampshire, who trail their opponents by three points and know that despite a run that has seen them win just two of their previous eight matches, they remain very much in the hunt.

Such a dire run is mostly the result of poor batting, the team often displaying an inability to set or chase totals, no matter how moderate. Indeed, they have failed to make it past 170 on all but one of the five occasions in which they might have done – and even then they still came up 14 runs short of Somerset’s 204.

Meanwhile, Glamorgan are disciplined, their batting and bowling working in harmony to keep them in good touch.

That opening fixture was the only time they haven’t passed 170 when possible, with their bowlers – anchored by second leading wicket-taker Michael Hogan – adept at defending good totals.

Key Men

Kyle Abbott has been a destructive force since joining Hampshire during the winter. He has 11 Blast wickets – the joint second most at the county – and 60 in all forms. Abbott’s economy is perhaps a touch surprising: at 9.19 he has gone at more runs per over in the Blast than any of the club’s frontline bowlers. But on a wicket likely to provide more assistance to him than one might typically expect at Southampton, he will be a real handful.

Glamorgan have, by and large, batted well throughout the competition, owing their success in part to Colin Ingram. The number three is the club’s leading run scorer (330) and has racked up two centuries – the only batsman to do so this season. Runs have been hard to come by on sluggish Ageas Bowl pitches this season so, if Ingram can make a score, Glamorgan will be well set.

Team News

Hampshire’s Rilee Rossouw and wicketkeeper Lewis McManus were ruled out for the remainder of the season on Wednesday, due to hand and finger injuries, respectively. Tom Alsop is therefore likely to retain his spot in the top order, while either he or second team wicketkeeper Calvin Dickinson will take the gloves.

Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Kyle Abbott, Jimmy Adams, Shahid Afridi, Tom Alsop, George Bailey, Gareth Berg, Mason Crane, Liam Dawson, Calvin Dickinson, Fidel Edwards, Sean Ervine, Ian Holland, Chris Wood

Glamorgan have named a 13-man squad, with David Miller the only absentee from the squad that travelled to Surrey on Friday, having completed his six-match stint at the club.

Glamorgan squad: Jaques Rudolph (c), Chris Cooke (wk), Lukas Carey, Tom Cullen, Marchant De Lange, Aneurin Donald, Michael Hogan, Colin Ingram, Craig Meschede, Andrew Salter, Nick Selman, Ruaidhri Smith, Graham Wagg

Form

Hampshire: LWLWL
Glamorgan: WLWAW

Weather and conditions

The wicket, three strips over from the one used in Hampshire’s Specsavers County Championship match this week, may be a touch green come tonight with two days of rain and a Southern Vipers fixture earlier in the day leaving ground staff just that morning to prepare it. It’ll be a mild night but the sun is set to shine through.

Date: 10th August 2017
Time: 6:30pm
Ground: The Ageas Bowl
Umpires: Jeremy Lloyds and David Millns
Odds (SkyBet): Hampshire 10/11, Glamorgan 10/11

Thoughts from the Cheltenham Festival

The long-awaited and much loved Cheltenham Festival, the high point of most Gloucestershire followers’ season, is already half over for those who aren’t fans of the games’ shortest format (of whom there are quite a few). Why? Because the first Championship match of two, against Glamorgan, finished in just two days after 25 wickets fell on the first day.

Consolation for those cricket fans on the English side of the Severn is that Gloucestershire won this most bizarre match by ten wickets. It was an outcome that most couldn’t have foreseen after the first two innings lasted just 73.3 overs with the Welsh county bowled out for 117 and the hosts replying with 141.

The general consensus among coaches and players was that the pitch was certainly lively on the first day and offered considerable help to the bowlers, but was by no means unplayable. On the second day, when the home county needed 135 to win, the pitch was much less threatening so much so that the home openers, Chris Dent and Cameron Bancroft knocked off the runs with little trouble. All this suggested that there was moisture evident in the pitch on the first day which dried out as the match progressed. Whatever the reason the surface did present problems to the batters on the day one. There was uneven bounce, balls from one end often keeping low and from the other often lifting from a good length. There was also movement: off the seam and at times in the air in the cloudy humid conditions.

Glamorgan, who batted first, may have had the worst of the conditions. Gloucestershire coach Richard Dawson felt that when his batsmen took their turn they tended to play their perceptions of the conditions rather than the ball in front of them. When Glamorgan batted for the second time it often seemed that wickets were lost to shots by batters who felt that they may as well score a few runs before the inevitable ball with their name on it arrived. The second Glamorgan effort was particularly poor.

With two days without cricket fans on both sides of the Severn were left with plenty to ponder. Not the least telling of their impressions will have been the inability of modern batsmen to cope with conditions which favour the bowler. On the same day the 25 Cheltenham wickets fell just one was lost by Kent at Beckenham (another outground) as they amassed over 400. The Beckenham scenario seems more familiar in recent seasons, particularly since the uncontested toss experiment began. It would have been interesting to hear the thoughts of some of the older players, who attended the annual PCA gathering at the Festival on day two, on the inability of modern batters to fight for runs on tricky pitches. It seems the excitement of much white- ball batting now comes at a cost. A persuasive case for compartmentalising the different formats.

Although cheated of two days cricket the Gloucestershire fans who watched the county’s last home match, at Bristol against Nottinghamshire, will at least have seen two absorbing days at the Festival. The pitch for the Nottinghamshire match was so dead that if the game had lasted a week there still wouldn’t have been a conclusion. Nottinghamshire’s assistant head coach Paul Franks was highly critical of that surface. There were no complaints from Glamorgan coach Robert Croft on the wicket for the Cheltenham match.

If there was some poor batting on show at the Festival there was some excellent bowling. All the quicker bowlers on both sides at different times in the match acquitted themselves well. Much the most impressive was Gloucestershire’s Mr Consistent Liam Norwell. He exploited the generous seam movement offered in both innings with admirable skill, his 6/38 in the second innings adding to his 2/17 from nine overs in the first. He now has 29 wickets at 15 apiece this season with four five- wicket hauls.

Norwell was a model of accuracy throughout. His style is that of the classic hit the top of off stump English seamer. The opposition bowler to take the eye was Glamorgan’s South African international Marchant de Lange. A much more intimidatory quickie, de Lange used the bounce from College Lawn End to induce nicks behind the wicket. It was exciting to watch his determination and aggression.

Such is the dependence now of county cricket on overseas imports that de Lange was one of seven non- British- born players in the Glamorgan side at Cheltenham (there were three Welshmen and one Englishman). How different from the last Glamorgan Championship-winning side of 1997, the majority of whom were either Welsh born or brought up- with Waqar Younis the only overseas player.

Deprived of two days cricket thought they were, the devotees of the Cheltenham Festival turned up in good numbers on both days. With more close neighbours, Worcestershire, due in the Championship on Sunday next, another good crowd is anticipated. The Festival also has three NatWest Blast T20s this year, with the game on Sunday week against Sussex already sold out ten days in advance. Festival cricket in these parts is as healthy as ever.

SSCC Preview: Glamorgan v Derbyshire

This week sees the arrival of day/night games and pink balls in the Specsavers County Championship. Games will start at 2pm, instead of 11am, and lunch will take place around 4pm. An experiment by the ECB, aimed at getting more bodies through gates, at this stage it is only here for this one round of fixtures.

In one of the fixtures, Derbyshire travel to Cardiff to face Glamorgan. Both sides hover somewhere in the middle of the second division, with the hosts looking the stronger of the two.

Glamorgan have banked a couple of wins in the season, but were royally beaten last time out by Durham. They were missing a couple of key men, however, but Chris Cooke and Timm van der Gugten are back. The hosts are a very experienced side, sporting players like Michael Hogan and Colin Ingram, and should be feeling confident despite their recent loss.

Derbyshire are still missing Hardus Viljoen, much to the frustration of everyone concerned no doubt. Problems with his recovery from injury are keeping the South African sidelined for longer than anticipated.

Viljoen’s injury and Connor McKerr’s re-call to Surrey means the Falcons are weak with the ball, with Tony Palladino the only real threat. The batting, however, looks strong enough but the likes of Billy Godleman, Wayne Madsen and Gary Wilson will have a lot of work to do if the bowling is lacking.

It’s difficult to see Derbyshire coming out on top, with injury issues and a tough opposition. Glamorgan simply look a stronger side, having quality with both bat and ball and being on home turf.

Key Men

At 36 years of age, Michael Hogan is showing no signs of slowing down. His two wickets in the loss at Chester le Street was a slow week, after taking seven against both Durham in the reverse fixture just a couple of weeks earlier and against Worcestershire the following round. The Aussie, who has stepped in as Glamorgan’s four-day captain, always leads the way with the ball and with the visitors being strong with the bat, Hogan’s abilities could be key.

Derbyshire’s wicketkeeper, Gary Wilson, has shown his powerful ability with the bat in the middle order this season. With an average of just over 47, and making half-centuries three times in five Championship games, the Irishman is a solid man to have down the order and is a safe pair of hands behind the stumps to boot.

Team News

Glamorgan welcome back Timm van der Gugten from his duties with the Netherlands. His absence was definitely felt at Durham. Chris Cooke, who has been out after receiving a concussion during a net session, also returns to the side.

Derbyshire are still without Hardus Viljoen, whose knee injury is still causing him problems, and Will Davies is also unavailable through injury. Luis Reece returns after an illness and Hamidullah Qadri could make his first-class debut. Jeevan Mendis is named in the squad for what will be his last game for the Falcons this season.

Glamorgan Squad: Michael Hogan (c), Tom Cullen (wk), Jacques Rudolph, Nick Selman, Andrew Salter, Colin Ingram, Aneurin Donald, David Lloyd, Graham Wagg, Chris Cooke, Marchant De Lange, Lukas Carey, Jack Murphy, Owen Morgan, Timm van der Gugten

Derbyshire Squad: Billy Godleman (c), Gary Wilson (wk) Luis Reece, Ben Slater, Shiv Thakor, Wayne Madsen, Alex Hughes, Daryn Smit, Jeevan Mendis, Tom Taylor, Tom Milnes, Tony Palladino, Rob Hemmings, Ben Cotton, Hamidullah Qadri

Form

Glamorgan: LWWDD
Derbyshire: LDDLL

Weather and conditions

It’s set to move between sunny and cloudy, while being relatively warm, tomorrow in Cardiff. By midweek, however, the rain will move in and there is likely to be quite a few interruptions on Wednesday at least.

Date: 26th – 29th June 2017
Time: 2:00pm
Ground: SSE SWALEC, Cardiff
Umpires: Neil Mallender & Alex Wharf
Odds (SkyBet): Glamorgan 4/6; Derbyshire 6/5

SSCC Preview: Leicestershire v Glamorgan

When the bookmakers can’t separate two teams, it generally means one of two things. It could be that the two teams are so strong, so in form, that they cannot choose which one will edge the other. Or it could be the complete opposite, that the two teams are in such poor form, are performing so poorly, that deciding who will be slightly better than the other is impossible. The latter applies to Leicestershire and Glamorgan. 

For these two teams have begun the season so badly, both comprehensively losing their two matches, that coming to a conclusion as to a potential winner is hugely problematic. In particular, the way the two have batted has been little short of shambolic at times.

The Foxes are yet to bat long enough to see a second new ball, while Glamorgan haven’t lasted longer than 65 overs in any of their four innings thus far. Leicestershire were skittled for just 81 in their opener against Notts, while Glamorgan have found themselves at 26-6, 49-4 and 82-7 in three of their four knocks before staging a lower-order recovery.

Such batting woes can give both bookmakers and county cricket observers some confidence that a draw in this fixture is highly unlikely. Given the inadequacy of the willow-wielding of both sides, a substantial amount of rain is probably required to stand any chance of a stalemate.

This fixture last season came in the final round of matches, and it went the way of Leicestershire, despite the Foxes being bowled out for just 96 in the first innings.

Glamorgan will be desperate to arrest their losing run and Head Coach Robert Croft will be looking to his batsmen to show more resolve than they have so far this season.

The likelihood is that one of these two teams is set to pick up their first win of the campaign, but which way this will go is anyone’s guess.

Key Men

Ned Eckersley played something of a lone hand for Leicestershire in their defeat at the hands of Gloucestershire last week. His scores of 88 and 85 were both scored in quick-fire fashion, coming from 103 and 96 balls respectively. When you consider his team only totalled 259 and 201, Eckersley’s contribution was invaluable, though ultimately in vain. The keeper will be hoping to replicate his form against Glamorgan, but will hope for a little more assistance from his teammates.

While Leicestershire’s keeper may have found his scoring touch, it is something that has thus far deserted Glamorgan’s glove-man Chris Cooke. The South African-born English keeper has scored a total of just 26 runs in four innings this season. Cooke has a solid first-class average of 35.43, and Glamorgan will be desperate for him to deliver more in the middle order, as they try and fix their batting woes.

 

Team News

Cameron Delport is in line for his first-class debut for Leicestershire after scoring 157 for the second XI last week. All-rounders Zak Chappell and Rob Sayer are pushing for starts, while Charlie Shreck returns from suspension. Skipper Mark Cosgrove misses out due to the suspension issued on the eve of the new season.

Leicestershire squad: Ned Eckersley (c) (wk), Zak Chappell, Dearden, Cameron Delport, Dexter, Lewis Hill, Paul Horton, Dieter Klein, Clint McKay, Mark Pettini, Ben Raine, Rob Sayer, Charlie Shreck, Tom Wells

Jacques Rudolph continues to lead his Glamorgan side and will be desperate to improve his form with the bat. Aneurin Donald showed glimpses of his quality with a well-made half-century last week and will hope to continue in that manner.

Glamorgan squad: Jacques Rudolph (c), Nick Selman, David Lloyd, Colin Ingram, Chris Cooke (wk), Aneurin Donald, Kiran Carlson, Andrew Salter, Marchant De Lange, Michael Hogan, Lukas Carey, Harry Podmore

Form

Leicestershire: LLWDL

Glamorgan: LLLWL

 

Weather and conditions

The first three days of this contest look set fair, with plenty of cloud around but also the chance for some sunshine too. Monday, if the game gets that far, could be affected by a few showers.

Date: 21st – 24th April 2017

Time: 11:00am

Ground: Grace Road

Umpires: Nick Cook & Graham Lloyd

Odds (SkyBet): Leicestershire 10/11, Glamorgan 10/11

SSCC Preview: Glamorgan v Worcestershire

 

The good news for Glamorgan is that they retain a healthy lead over both Leicestershire and Durham in division two. They are even in front of Worcestershire, the team they will face in their first home game of the season. The bad news is that they are only in front of Leicestershire and Durham due to ECB sanctions, and Worcestershire have not even played in the County Championship yet.

If Glamorgan are going to remain four spaces away from the foot of the table, or even improve on that position, they will need to find rapid solutions to the problems that were exposed by fellow financial strugglers Northamptonshire in their bruising two-day innings defeat at Wantage Road.

Ben Sanderson took match figures of 7-21 in the match which started with Glamorgan being dismissed for 101 – a merciful recovery after their top order collapsed to 26-6. David Lloyd bagged a pair and Glamorgan’s top three made just 34 runs in the match between them.

They avoided the wooden spoon last season thanks to a dismal season for Derbyshire, but have been widely tipped to struggle this year and may well find themselves near the bottom of the 10-team division this time around.

Worcestershire, meanwhile, will consider themselves as having an outside chance of snatching a promotion spot if either of the favourites, Sussex and Nottinghamshire, have a poor run of form.

They came third last season and if the promotion/relegation arrangements had been as they usually are, would only have been ten points away from going up.

Worcestershire’s coach, Steve Rhodes, has heightened tensions ahead of the clash by publicly criticising Glamorgan for their reliance on Kolpak players, suggesting that they should be focusing on developing Welsh talent instead.

The merits of his opinions aside, it will be interesting to see whether this fires up his players, or motivates the opposition to put him in his place.

Key Men

While his teammates were tumbling like tenpins around him, Aneurin Donald emerged from Glamorgan’s first match with a modicum of dignity. While his returns were unremarkable on paper – 34 and 15 are not going to turn many heads – his effort in the first innings was the only thing that saved Glamorgan from enormous humiliation. Still only 20 and born in Swansea, Donald is already a key figure in the Glamorgan dressing room and a strong showing from him would prove the club’s commitment to bringing through local talent alongside their Kolpak signings.

Jack Shantry has become something of a cult figure in recent years due to his unconventional bowling action and uniquely slow pace for a professional seam bowler. At times, this cult status detracts from his stellar record in county cricket: he makes up for his lack of pace with prodigious swing, and he has proven himself more than capable with a bat in his hand as well.

Opta StatsWatch

Glamorgan have not lost to Worcestershire in their last four home meetings (W2 D2).

Worcestershire finished the previous campaign having won three of their final match four matches (L1).

Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke posted 194 runs in his last County Championship innings (v Derbyshire, September 2016); his highest first-class score.

Joe Leach (Worcestershire) took more Division Two wickets than anyone else last season (65).

Team News

Glamorgan fans will be pleased to see the return of Michael Hogan, while Marchant de Lange will make his home debut and Harry Podmore (on loan from Middlesex for the second season in a row) is also included.

Glamorgan squad: Jacques Ruldolph (c), Lukas Carey, Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke, Marchant de Lange, Aneurin Donald, Michael Hogan, Colin Ingram, David Lloyd, Craig Meschede, Harry Podmore, Andrew Salter, Nick Selman

Apart from Moeen Ali, Steve Rhodes has a full-strength squad at his disposal for this encounter, and Australian bowler John Hastings is expected to make his debut for the Pears.

Worcestershire squad: Joe Leach (c), Ed Barnard, Joe Clarke, Ben Cox (wk), Brett D’Oliveira, Tom Fell, John Hastings, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Daryl Mitchell, George Rhodes, Jack Shantry, Josh Tongue

Championship Form

Glamorgan: LLWLL

Worcestershire: WWLWL

Weather and conditions

Showers on Friday but otherwise dry and fine with mild temperatures. Last season, Worcestershire piled on 456-6 before reducing their hosts to 42-4, then rain came to the rescue.

Date: 14th-17th April 2017

Time: 11am

Ground: Swalec Stadium

Odds (SkyBet): Glamorgan 5/4, Worcestershire 8/13

Northants tear through Glamorgan to take control

It was a day of contrasts at Wantage Road as the 2017 County season started in dramatic fashion in the East Midlands. One which quickly turned into a dream start for hosts Northamptonshire, and a nightmare for Glamorgan, from the moment captain Jacques Rudolph elected to have a toss and opted to bat.

Within the blink of an eye Glamorgan were 9-3 and then 26-6, and for a while their recovery to 101 didn’t look too bad when Northants were reduced to 26-3 in reply. But, by the close, Rory Kleinveldt had smacked an unbeaten 71 from just 41 balls as the hosts ended 167 runs to the good.

In many ways the two sides had carried on where they left off at the end of the 2016 season. Glamorgan had lost 6-10 in their second innings to lose against Leicestershire, one of four defeats in their final five games. And by the time Nathan Buck had taken three wickets in his first nine balls on Championship debut for Northants today, their last 12 Championship wickets had fallen for only 36 runs.

For a young batting line-up that struggled for runs, ducks for Nick Selman, David Lloyd, Chris Cooke and Kiran Carlson is hardly an ideal start for Glamorgan, whilst captain Rudolph, again coming off the back of a lean year, made only nine.

Aneurin Donald carried the Welsh side to three figures and slight respectability but 84-8 at lunch can hardly have been what Rudolph imagined when he won the toss. The pitch provided just enough assistance, which Northants’ bowlers took full advantage of.

Rory Kleinveldt started things off with three early strikes, before Buck’s burst and Ben Sanderson wrapped up the innings as all three claimed three apiece, Glamorgan dismissed 20 minutes after lunch.

There was a point when 101 didn’t appear as disastrous as it might have been. Ben Duckett, on his first appearance for Northants after a difficult winter, could only make 12 before becoming Marchant de Lange’s first Glamorgan victim, youngster Max Holden also falling without score.

27-3 could have become 27-4, but Craig Meschede bowled Alex Wakely with a no-ball and the very next delivery was spilled at slip by Carlson. It would prove a crucial moment as, instead of exposing the attacking Northants middle order early, Wakely and Rossington were able to stabilise and built the platform for Kleinveldt’s extraordinary assault.

The lead was 69 when the South African walked to the crease, with 11 overs left in the day, but eight fours and four sixes later Northants were walking off 167 to the good. Glamorgan were unsuccessful in a short ball attack to Kleinveldt, who reached his half century in just 23 balls.

“It is [a dream start], hopefully it’s a sign of things to come,” Kleinveldt said.

“It was bit of a strange morning, I don’t think anyone or the captain knew what they wanted to do, could feel a bit of moisture so was hoping we’d bowl first. Luckily we did and we exploited that, myself Sando and Bucky on debut having a dream debut.

“Wakers [Alex Wakely] got away with a couple early on, but him and Rosso had a great partnership, Richard came in and played positively which put us on the front foot and myself and Crooky were able to come in and play with some freedom.

“I was helped there was a bit of short boundary on one side, just tried to back myself to clear that boundary, if I hit it half well enough.

“I still feel that there’s a few balls doing a bit, if we do as well as we did in the first innings I think we’ll be able to [bowl Glamorgan out for a second time]. It’s about being able to roll it out again and being consistent.”

Kleinveldt finished with the second highest strike rate in Division Two last season, one of four Northants’ players in the top six. Their positive play helped them to three straight wins at the end of the campaign, and they are in a great position to make that four over the weekend.

It may only be the end of day one, but already it seems a long way back for Glamorgan, on a pitch which showed signs of variable bounce. Being so far behind with so long left in the game, it is already looking ominous for Glamorgan, not what they would have wanted having only finished above Derby in last season’s final table.

SSCC: Northants v Glamorgan Preview

When Glamorgan visited Wantage Road at the end of last summer, they and Northamptonshire were teams heading in different direction.

Northants, fresh off the back of winning the T20 Blast, took that confidence into the Championship, and the huge 318-run win was one of three successive victories to sign off the four-day campaign. Glamorgan’s season tailed off after their T20 quarter final defeat – four losses in the last five left only Derbyshire below them in the final reckoning.

However, a new season brings a fresh start, and Glamorgan will at least be spared the raging turn that saw Rob Keogh and Graeme White share all 20 wickets on an old fashioned Wantage Road Bunsen.

For Northants, until their belated run of form, the Championship had been somewhat of a struggle compared to their red-hot white ball campaign. Head Coach David Ripley admitted his side were sometimes underprepared as they, understandably, put their focus on white-ball cricket.

The change of format should benefit them this year though, and the opening block of three games, the visit of Glamorgan followed by trips to Derbyshire and Leicestershire, providing an opportunity for Ripley’s men to make a strong start that could be the springboard for a surprising promotion challenge.

For Glamorgan, the pressure will be on a young batting line-up to make a positive start after a disappointing 2016, while captain Jacques Rudolph will want some early runs to avoid awkward question starting to form over his role at the top.

The late signings of Marchant de Lange and Harry Podmore, the latter on loan from Middlesex for the opening month, provide a boost to the bowling attack, but perhaps that could also be unsettling so close to the start.

Key Men

Ben Duckett was the star of 2016, not just for Northants, but in County Cricket overall. But he returns from a mixed winter with questions over whether he can continue to churn out the runs like he has over the past season and half. Despite much of that success in the Championship coming as an opener, Duckett is expected to move to number four, a position that should suit his natural strokeplay.

Glamorgan captain Jacques Rudolph endured a difficult campaign with the bat, making only 659 runs in 15 games, at an average under 25. One of the few experienced heads in an otherwise useful batting order, Rudolph will need to lead from the front, and will be hoping for a strong start to the campaign.

Team News

Northants have been hit by a pair of injuries ahead of the opening game, with Muhammed Azharullah out for 4-6 weeks, while Rob Keogh misses the opener after being hit on the foot in a warm up game. Richard Gleeson isn’t yet up to full fitness following winter knee surgery.

South African duo Richard Levi and Rory Kleinveldt have arrived and are included in the squad, while there are likely to be competitive debuts for Nathan Buck and Max Holden.

Northants squad: Nathan Buck, Josh Cobb, Ben Duckett, Max Holden, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Rob Newton, Adam Rossington, Alex Wakely (c), Graeme White, Ben Sanderson.

Glamorgan will have Harry Podmore available after he resigned for the club on Thursday, on an initial one-month loan deal from Middlesex, having spent last summer on loan at the Swalec. Marchant de Lange is also set to make his debut for the county.

Glamorgan squad: Jacques Rudolph (c), Lukas Carey, Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke, Marchant De Lange, Aneurin Donald, Colin Ingram, David Lloyd, Craig Meschede, Owen Morgan, Harry Podmore, Andrew Salter, Nick Selman.

 

Weather and Conditions

After last seasons incredible wet start, that saw the last two and a half days of the opening Championship game at Wantage Road washed out, the weather looks unusually settled for this early April clash. Little rain is anticipated throughout, with temperatures hitting a high of 21 degrees on Sunday, before dipping to a rather more chilly 12 on Monday.

The Wantage Road groundsmen have struggled in the past couple of years to find a balance between flat and too lively pitches, often ending up with the former. This is particularly true on the right hand (as viewed from the pavilion) end of the square, where this weeks’ wicket is located, the game against Loughborough MCCU producing scores of 435-6, 553 and 185-0.

Date: 7th – 10th April 2017

Venue: Wantage Road, Northampton

Odds: Northants 8/11, Glamorgan 11/10

Glamorgan Season Preview

2016 was a rather beige season for Glamorgan; finishing eighth in Division Two and seventh in the Royal London One-Day Cup South Group. Getting to the quarter-finals of the Blast will act as their main source of positive optimism looking forward.

Nothing much has changed from last season prior to Galmorgan’s 2017 County Championship curtain raiser. Jacques Rudolph will continue as captain and their overseas player, and former England spinner Robert Croft will continue as Head Coach.

Whilst providing stability and the ideal of a settled dressing room, the lack of new signings will be a disappointment for Glamorgan fans. The club announced an operating loss of £307,778 for the 2016 financial year, amid ongoing struggles to `consolidate financially’ having had large debts written off in 2015. The SSE SWALEC hosted two England Internationals last year and will host five Champions Trophy matches this summer-a welcome boost to a county severely lacking resources for desperately wanted team and stadia investment.

Croft’s naming of eight young Welsh players in their 12-man squad for the preseason friendly against Somerset shows his great faith in youth, which should set them up nicely for years to come. Though a more pessimistic fan could simply argue that he has little other option but to blood the youngsters in a distinctly Division Two looking squad.

Their pre-season performances have been much like the gloom and rain they have attempted to play in: solid at a push, definitely not spectacular. A rain-reduced two-day to one-day match at Taunton saw the Welsh Dragons keep Somerset to 211/8 off 47 overs before then rather collapsing to 132/8 in reply. They then lost by four wickets to Gloucestershire, due to an Iain Cockbain masterclass, in a one-day game. And in their most recent match Glamorgan racked up 342/7 against Cardiff MCCU, then took five of the students’ wickets before close.

Ins: None so far

Outs: James Kettleborough (Released), Dewi Penrhyn Jones (Released), Mark Wallace (Retired)

Key Player – Colin Ingram

South African Colin Ingram didn’t play any first-class cricket last year, due to a persistent knee injury, but boy did he make up for his longer form absence with some lightning one-day performances. It was a season of firsts for Ingram in both main facets of the game.

With the bat he scored his maiden T20 hundred against Essex Eagles at Chelmsford, complete with seven sixes and six fours, just three days after his RLODC 107 against the same side. Ingram scooped the top six hitter prize for his 29 rope-clearers, a major portion of his 502 T20 Blast runs.

With the ball he managed career-best figures of 4/32 in a quarter-final match in which Yorkshire scored 180.

Ingram’s wealth of top level one-day cricket experience from playing for South Africa, Delhi Daredevils and also for Somerset should make him continue to be the perfect man to set the stall at the top for the youngsters in Glamorgan’s middle and lower order to follow.

Ingram had knee surgery in August and has been comfortably performing for the Warriors back in his homeland, giving him confidence to be able to play all three forms for the Welsh side this season.

Player to Watch – Craig Meschede

Having signed a three-year contract last season after a season long loan from Somerset the year before, Meschede achieved both his maiden first-class hundred and his maiden first-class five wicket haul last term.

He will be disappointed with his mere nine County Championship wickets last year, but injuries did only allow him 10 four-day innings to both bowl and bat in last year. A quirky statistic Meschede is sure to tell his grandchildren, is how his maiden first-class wicket was that of Sachin Tendulkar. He won’t face the great Indian again, but expect him to add many more top class batsmen to his list of scalps this season.

Meschede is not only a useful medium pace bowler, having gone through Kings College, Taunton breaking record after record alongside Jos Buttler, he is also a very destructive one-day batsman. It was a surprise to see a man who made his first-class debut at just 19 years-old be allowed to leave the county he rose up through the academy with. Despite being South African born, his German father and his consequent German passport makes him eligible as a non-overseas player.

Overseas Signings

Jacques Rudolph will captain the Welsh Dragons for the third successive season in 2017. The 35-year-old South African struggled with the bat last term, but did hit the 50th first-class century of his career against Cardiff MCCU in preseason (before holing out for 142.)

The batting all-rounder has not represented his country since 2012, but with the recent controversial influx of South Africans signing as Kolpak players in county cricket (thus ending their international careers), Rudolph may believe he could earn himself one last international recall if he performs well enough this season. Remember, Rudolph is a man who scored 222 on his test debut- the highest individual score on test debut from any man since 1903.

Expect the third South African to feature in this preview to work particularly closely with fellow South African born key men Meschede and Ingram, whilst getting the absolute best out of an unexceptional and largely unproven squad.

How they’ll fare

It must be reiterated, it is a real worry for Glamorgan that they have signed no new players as of yet, though they do have an abundance of talented youngsters coming up through their academy. The preseason induced loss of Ruaidhri Smith for six weeks with a side injury, coupled with the likely more short-term injuries to Will Bragg, Kieran Bull and Graham Wagg could really hamper the start of Glamorgan’s campaign.

However, the announcement that Timm van der Gugten will likely be fit for the season opener at Northamptonshire is a massive boost. He returned to Australia for treatment on a shoulder injury, but his rehabilitation has gone well. Expect him to be Glamorgan’s main wicket threat, though it would be a surprise if he were to get near the 56 Championship wickets of last season again.

Glamorgan should not set their sights much higher than the lower echelons of the Division Two Table, but their mix of unfazed youth and calm experienced heads could cause some more one-day shocks. They should have a better RLODC campaign this year and will do their best to match last year’s Blast, in which they exceeded expectations.

Opening Fixture

v Northamptonshire, Friday 7th April at Wantage Road.

Season Odds

LV County Championship Division: 20/1
Royal London One-Day Cup: 25/1
Natwest Twenty20 Blast: 25/1

 

Season Review 2016: Glamorgan

In a word, Glamorgan were inconsistent. From the dizzy heights of a white-ball winning run that few predicted, to a Championship slump that was all-too predictable, Glamorgan’s fortunes took a turbulent tumble in 2016, despite the supposedly stabilising presence of club legend Robert Croft.

A season that had promised so much actually ground to a halt on August 11, when the Welsh county were humbled by a truly elite county side. It was a result that sent shockwaves through South Wales and Croft realised how far he needed to bring his blossoming outfit.

Yorkshire Vikings didn’t just beat Glamorgan in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals, they humiliated them. David Willey’s belligerent 79 off 38 balls helped the Vikings rack up 180/8 before the daffodil wilted on a profoundly depressing evening on the banks of the Taff. Not even Dylan Thomas could rage against the dying of this light.

With a poor record in the Championship and no further hopes in the Royal London One Day Cup – coupled with injuries to explosive batsmen Colin Ingram and Chris Cooke – Glamorgan’s season could go no further. Ingram had smote 502 runs in the Blast, including a tournament-equalling 29 sixes. The fact that a knee injury prohibited the South African from playing four-day cricket was as damaging as anything to Glamorgan’s Championship fortunes.

Youngsters shone briefly. Aneurin Donald, Owen Morgan, Kiran Carlson and Lukas Carey are all worthy of a mention for moments of individual brilliance that sneaked a peak of Glamorgan’s brighter future. But older heads failed to deliver. Jacques Rudolph, the captain, failed to make a Championship century.

Yet those flashes of brilliance won’t be forgotten in Sophia Gardens’ folklore. Donald’s world-record-equalling 234 off 135 balls will live long in the memory for the Glamorgan die-hards who travelled to Colwyn Bay on a balmy day in July. The 19-year-old was certainly a bright spark, exceeding 1,000 first class runs for the season in his first full season in the big league.

David Lloyd, the 24-year-old compact North Walian, was another to shine in the early season sun. The batsman hit two Championship hundreds in May and made an exhilarating 97 not out in the T20 Blast against Kent. But Lloyd’s form was symptomatic of Glamorgan’s. He failed to register a score of note following that T20 quarter final abomination. There really was very little to play for after that.

Championship defeats from winning positions was another common thread which ran through the season. Three days of combative, Graham Wagg-inspired cricket from the Welshmen at Bristol unravelled in 45 minutes of batting naivety on the fourth day. Sussex were allowed to slither through the grasp of Timm van der Gugten in an epic at the SWALEC. And the season ended in farcical fashion at the FCG (Leicestershire) when Glamorgan lost six wickets for 10 runs to gift their hosts an impossible victory.

Inconsistent, frustrating and much to learn for Croft’s band of precocious young talents.

Specsavers County Championship: 8th in Division Two

T20 Blast: Quarter-Finals (2nd, South Group)

RLODC: 7th in South Group

Leading Championship run-scorer: Will Bragg (1,088 runs)

Leading Championship wicket-taker: Timm van der Gugten (56 wickets)

Player of the Season: Colin Ingram. A lone gun at times, but the left-hander cleared the ropes more times than anyone else in this season’s T20 Blast. He didn’t grab the headlines nationwide, but his white-ball exploits provided the ballast on which many games were won. Indispensable to the county, you shudder to think how this season would have mapped out without the burly Protea.

Breakthrough Player: Timm van der Gugten. Question marks were asked when the Welsh county handed a three-year contract to the Dutchman who had hitherto played very few first class games. He rewarded them with 56 Championship wickets at 26 and 19 T20 Blast victims with an economy less than seven. The Dutchman was flying.

Could have done better: Jacques Rudolph. Led his young side with composure and a cool head but his batting was hugely problematic. His Championship record saw the former South African Test player average 24.41, scoring 659 runs in 15 matches and was indicative of the batting travails that dogged his side’s four-day form from start to finish.

Need to work on: Batting. Simple as that.

What’s next? Supporters must show patience, but they’re within their rights to furrow their brows at the end of a very frustrating season. The T20 form may not resurface next season – we all know the pitfalls involved in the shortest form – and the Championship form simply has to be better.

Season Rating: An end of season report card reading ‘could do better’ doesn’t quite cut it. Croft must be ruthless in his schooling of this young side and the experienced heads need to stand up and be counted next summer.

Mark: 4/10

Patient Gloucestershire take control on Day Two

Gloucestershire ground Glamorgan into the dirt on an attritional day of county cricket in South Wales, with Hamish Marshall giving a glimpse of his well-travelled talents.

The former New Zealand Test player batted for 189 balls to equal Nick Selman’s first day total of 101, a fine innings from the Gloucestershire man that has swung this match firmly towards the Bristol-based side. There were potent lower order contributions from Craig Miles (34) and David Payne (58*) too, as Glamorgan’s misery grew. Gloucestershire finished 347/8, a lead of 127.

The visitors began the day on 62/3 but thanks to a century stand between Marshall and young George Hankins (43), they were soon in the ascendency.

They survived the entire morning session unscathed, despite the best efforts of Glamorgan’s stand-in captain for this match, Michael Hogan, who was the pick of the bowlers. But a wayward first hour cost the Welsh county dearly and they were chasing the game from lunchtime onwards.

Hogan eventually got the breakthrough in the early afternoon, finding the edge of Hankins’ bat as the teenager completed his 152-ball vigil, but missed out on a deserved half-century.

The Aussie quick struck again, with Phil Mustard fending forward and splicing the ball to Will Bragg, who pouched a catch at first slip.

Marshall departed with the score 215/6. Gloucestershire were just five runs behind and were to add a significant number to their lead, landing Glamorgan in deep trouble when the Welsh county eventually commence their second innings sometime tomorrow.

It was Hogan again who accounted for the experienced New Zealander. Marshall was pinned LBW by a ball that nipped in nicely.

With the new men Jack Taylor and Craig Miles at the crease, Glamorgan smelt blood and the chance to limit Gloucestershire’s lead to a little as possible.

Yet it was the visitors who snatched the initiative once more. Despite Timm van der Gugten luring Taylor into an expansive drive, which was flayed into the hands of Selman at third slip, Miles and Payne lengthened Glamorgan’s frustrating stay in the field.

The pair added 90 when the sides met in Bristol in May, dramatically bringing Gloucestershire back into a match they would go onto win. And they repeated the feat in Cardiff, standing firm and playing positively in a partnership worth 60.

Miles was caught by Graham Wagg, who took a smart low grab at mid-wicket off the part-time spin of Kiran Carlson. But with Gloucestershire already well ahead it was too little, too late.

Glamorgan toiled late into the South Wales twilight, but they couldn’t find a way past Payne or number 10 Josh Shaw.

The Gloucestershire number nine registered a stylish third first-class fifty. It wasn’t without incident however, as Glamorgan ‘keeper Mark Wallace will admit. A missed stumping off Carlson, with Payne on 20, proved costly and Glamorgan couldn’t break the 25-year-old’s resistance.

They will be hoping for two quick wickets tomorrow followed by a resilient rearguard action if they are to salvage something from this fixture.