South African golfer Gary Player once said: ‘The harder I practice, the luckier I get’. Yet that mantra was turned on its head by the Glamorgan duo of Graham Wagg and Craig Meschede on the second day of this Specsavers County Championship match in Cardiff.
The Welsh county have just emerged – like most other counties – from an intense period of white-collar, high-octane T20 and 50-over cricket. And it was that fast-paced fearless approach which served Glamorgan extraordinarily well today.
They’d barely had a chance to practice their red-ball skills on a solitary rest day between Friday night’s T20 victory over Kent, before they were clad in white clothes ready to do battle again over four days.
Regardless, Wagg and Meschede blasted 160 runs in 33.1 overs for Glamorgan’s seventh wicket to steer the hosts into the driving seat at 351 all out, before Kent ended the day 10/0.
Only 21.5 overs had been bowled on the previous, rain-affected, opening day with Glamorgan’s recurring problem haunting them once again.
The Welsh county have an unhelpful habit of losing wickets at the top and they were in early trouble once more when Mark Wallace was bowled by a snorting delivery from Matt Coles and captain Jacques Rudolph was pinned LBW by the metronomic Darren Stevens.
Any worries the Glamorgan fans might have developed were soon eradicated when Chris Cooke (46) and Will Bragg (35) steered them to a healthier 93/2 when the rain came and did not relent until lunchtime on Day Two.
But those worries nagged back when four Glamorgan wickets fell in the opening hour after the restart on Day Two, when Kent’s wily Aussie quick Mitch Claydon did the damage. First, Bragg nicked to ‘keeper Adam Rouse, then his partner Cooke nudged a catch to Tom Latham in the gully.
The in-form Welsh duo of David Lloyd and Aneurin Donald came together for Glamorgan to renew the hosts’ hopes. But despite the impressive form of both in white-ball cricket, neither managed to hang around long enough to make a lasting impact here. Donald appeared flustered, prodding at the occasional wide delivery until Claydon located the edge of his bat and Rouse did the rest.
Lloyd followed his scintillating 97 not out on Friday night against the same opponents with a six off his first ball in this match. He looked imperious. But again the nibbling line and length worked wonders for Kent, with the North Walian snicking to James Tredwell at slip for 26, Calum Haggett the bowler.
Then came a potentially match-turning partnership from the two Glamorgan allrounders. Wagg and Meschede fearless fended off the Kent charge to plunder the Welsh side from the dark depths of 137/6, to the dizzy heights of 297/7 before Wagg was eventually snared at second slip for 83.
Meschede continued briefly until he too fell short of a century. Kent gloveman Rouse grabbed his third and fourth catches of the innings as Meschede (78), and then Timm van der Gugten nicked behind off Haggett in quick succession.
The contrasting fortunes of the Wagg/Meschede and Lloyd/Donald efforts perhaps reinforce Players’ motto – and in truth Glamorgan rode their luck to score so many. Meschede was dropped twice in the 40s and the home side were often treated to some wayward bowling, from Coles in particular whose opening spell read 4-0-35-1.
Nonetheless, Glamorgan would have been content to finish on 351 – and four batting points – thanks to a last-wicket dart from Michael Hogan and Andrew Salter, who both scored 20. Kent openers Bell-Drummond and Latham then saw out the remaining six overs to finish the day 10/0.