Glamorgan edged out Gloucestershire in a high-scoring thriller that lit up a damp and dark Bristol evening. Both captains, Jacques Rudolph and Michael Klinger, compiled their own centuries and led their sides with the bat. Fortunately for Rudolph, he was the man who had the more assistance and as such was able to forge a match-winning total of 191/3 from his side’s 20 overs.
It is perhaps fitting that on the eve of the 200th anniversary of Waterloo, this was a match decided by two leaders who led their teams by example. Whilst the battle was nowhere near as bloody as Waterloo, the match certainly entertained a crowd who had half expected the match to be ruined by heavy showers in the West Country.
Having been inserted in gloomy but dry conditions, Rudolph set about the task of run-making alongside his new opening partner Craig Meschede. The all-rounder has been tried in an opening slot during last week’s match against Middlesex and the trial continued here.
The two men started in positive fashion, taking 18 runs from the second over of the match, bowled by David Payne. Going on to finish with figures of 1/42 from his 4 overs represented somewhat of a recovery for the seam bowler, but in truth all the Gloucestershire bowlers struggled to contain Rudolph on an evening when it seemed he could do no wrong.
Having combined for 78 runs for the first wicket inside 9 overs, Meschede was the first man to fall, after being caught at long-on from the bowling of Benny Howell. Howell was easily the pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers, finishing with figure of 2/24 from his allocated overs.
Rudolph continued to make hay as the gloom descended, reaching his half-century in 37 balls to register his second successive score of 50 or more; it was also his 9th 50 in 18 T20 innings for the Welsh county. Alongside compatriot Colin Ingram, Rudolph pushed his side along with even more vigour, as Glamorgan reached 100 in the 12th over, and still for the loss of a single wicket.
Ingram and Rudolph added 50 for the second wicket in just 36 balls, before the former fell LBW to Howell having been dropped by Ian Cockbain the ball before.
Rudolph then went past his previous best T20 score of 83 with a tidy reverse sweep from the bowling of Tom Smith, as Chris Cooke also joined in the run-scoring fun.
It clearly wasn’t Gloucestershire’s evening: not only was their bowling being dispatched to all parts by the belligerent Rudolph, they also conceded 5 penalty runs when Cooke inside-edged one onto Geraint Jones’ helmet behind the stumps.
Rudolph continued his assault into the final overs, as he bludgeoned his way to a maiden T20 hundred, becoming the third man to do so for Glamorgan. It was a commanding innings that included 13 fours. The next top score was just 28.
In rapidly deteriorating conditions, attention then turned to whether the necessary five overs could be bowled in the Gloucestershire innings. Wayne Parnell and Michael Hogan opened the bowling for Glamorgan, and the man from Western Australia quickly accounted for Chris Dent, as he was caught at deep backward square leg by Salter to depart for a single.
Whilst Klinger was dispatching the Glamorgan bowlers with aplomb, it appeared that the rest of the Gloucestershire batsmen failed to come to terms with both the conditions and the Glamorgan attack.
Spinner Dean Cosker bowled the 5th over of the innings, as Rudolph was concerned with the fading light and incoming drizzle. Happily for Glamorgan, the rain stayed away and the rest of the innings could be completed, although Gloucestershire will no doubt point to the beneficial batting conditions enjoyed by Glamorgan.
Despite losing both Cockbain and Jack Taylor inside the first 10 overs, Klinger continued on his merry way. His half-century took just 33 balls, and it was his 4th consecutive score of 50 or more in this year’s T20 Blast.
Wickets continued to fall at the other end however, as Salter and Wagg helped themselves to a wicket apiece. Heading into the final three overs, Gloucestershire needed 47 to win, a hefty if not insurmountable total to overcome. Some solid death bowling from the evergreen Michael Hogan, however, dismissed Jones for 26 and, with his departure, hopes of a remarkable Gloucestershire victory faded.
Despite falling 19 runs short of Glamorgan’s total, Klinger was able to complete his hundred in 61 balls, and maintain a quite staggering run of form in this year’s T20 Blast. He has now made 3 centuries in his 4 innings, and amassed 403 runs in the process, with a strike rate of 163.
Pick of the bowlers for Glamorgan was Hogan, whose 4 overs only conceded a run a ball, and he also helped himself to the wickets of Dent and Jones too. For Gloucestershire, their exceptional captain aside, it was a disappointing way in which to surrender an unbeaten home record, although Benny Howell was impressive in conceding at just a run a ball during Rudolph’s onslaught.
Victory leaves Glamorgan with 3 wins from their 5 matches, and nicely placed for an assault on a top-four finish ahead of the match with Somerset on Saturday. Gloucestershire have now won 3 and lost 3 and sit one place above the Welsh county in fourth place, having played one more match. Their next outing will be on Sunday against Middlesex at Richmond.