Season Review 2018: Glamorgan

Season Review 2018: Glamorgan

Picture courtesy of Youtube, with thanks

For supporters of Glamorgan, seeking good news this season was just about as forlorn an exercise as dropping a rose petal off the Severn Bridge and waiting for the splash.

The Welsh county were bottom in Division Two of the Specsavers County Championship. They were so bad that they actually finished 34 points behind the ninth county. They were also bottom of the South Group in the Royal London One Day Cup. Sixth place out of nine in the Vitality Blast looks like a triumph, but only in the same way that Snow White seemed tall.

Overall, Glamorgan lost 23 out of 36 matches.

In the Championship, the first and last matches of the campaign were won. Unfortunately, between that first success on 23 April against Gloucestershire, and the win over Leicestershire 156 days elapsed without a four-day win.

Whilst the Club’s avowed policy was to invest in local talent, the reality was that, with the bat, four of the six Championship hundreds came from Australians Usman Khawaja (three in just four games) and Shaun Marsh. Of those who played regularly, only David Lloyd came close to averaging 30.

The failings with the bat meant that the bowlers often were faced with an impossible task. Timm van der Gugten, the Australian born Dutch international, and fellow Aussie, veteran Michael Hogan strove manfully, taking 88 wickets between them. None of the local players made much of an impact. Andrew Salter took 18 wickets in ten games but they cost over 40 apiece.

As for the Royal London competition, Glamorgan scarcely turned up, losing seven of their eight games.

Run-scoring was not the main problem. Colin Ingram was outstanding, with over 400 runs at an average of 57; and six times out of eight, the team topped 250. But it was like trying to fill a bucket full of holes. However many runs went in, the bowlers leaked more. Apart from Graham Wagg, whose nine wickets cost just under 39 each, the rest of the bowlers averaged in excess of 50.

In the Vitality Blast, Glamorgan actually won half their games. At one point, they were victorious in five consecutive matches and looked a sure-fire bet for the quarterfinals. But they lost their last three games and, in the end, were well short of qualifying.

Ingram again starred with the bat, his 430 runs coming at an average of 53.75 and a strike rate of 164.75. Others contributed usefully. Graham Wagg and Michael Hogan were the top wicket-takers, with 14 and 13 respectively, but their economy rates were around nine runs per over.

Even so, there were some good performances. At the Oval, Glamorgan chased down a Surrey total of 194 to win with an over to spare; and at home in Cardiff, they won a thrilling game against Gloucestershire by just two runs.

Although, in all competitions, the policy of giving chances to young, mainly local players could hardly be hailed as a great success, there were occasional signs of hope. 20-year-old Cardiff-born Kiran Carlson managed 955 runs. Ruaidrhi Smith, Glasgow born but at least with a good Celtic forename, showed occasional promise with both bat and ball.

SSCC:  Bottom in Division Two
T20 Blast: Sixth in South Group
RLODC:  Bottom in South Group

Leading run-scorers:

SSCC: Chris Cooke, 606 runs
T20 Blast: Colin Ingram, 430 runs
RLODC:  Colin Ingram, 402 runs

Leading wicket-takers:

SSCC: Michael Hogan, 43 wickets
T20 Blast: Graham Wagg, 14 wickets
RLODC: Graham Wagg, 9 wickets

Player of the season:

There are not too many contenders for Player of the Season; but with 68 wickets across all three competitions, Timm van der Gugten can just about claim to be a worthy winner, especially since he occasionally scored useful runs in the lower order.

Breakthrough Player:

Let us be kind and, rather than withhold this award on the basis that no one really deserved it, give it to Kiran Carlson. His true breakthrough is yet to come, but at least he held his own in the 27 matches that he played.

He remains the youngest player ever to score a first-class hundred for Glamorgan back in 2016; and in white ball cricket, he showed this year what he could do when he struck 59 off 40 balls in the 50-over defeat of Sussex. He hit five fours and four sixes as he and Colin Ingram rushed the team to their only Royal London victory of the season with a stand of 98 in just 10 overs.

Could have done better:

It is tempting to sympathise with those Glamorgan supporters whose response would be to say “the whole **** lot of them.”

That would be unfair, however. More reasonably, the answer assuredly is Aneurin Donald. Two years ago, aged just 19, he scored an astonishing 234 off 136 balls, equalling the fastest double-century in first-class cricket. He struck 15 sixes.

2017 wasn’t a great year for him, but he still looked full of potential. How, then, to explain a season in 2018 when in 25 completed innings in all competitions, he averaged just 15? Maybe if he knows the answer, he can share it with Haseeb Hameed.

Before the end of the season, it was announced that Donald was leaving to join Hampshire. Despite his poor year, Glamorgan supporters will have seen this as further evidence that the “local youth” policy simply isn’t working.

Need to work on

It’s pretty clear from the results in 2018 that Glamorgan need either to find ways to make their youth policy work or to think again.

Over the last few years, there have been too many young players who have been tried and have not quite made the grade. What is not clear is whether this is because they were just not good enough or whether the coaching set-up has been unable to draw out their untapped abilities.

Since the end of the season, Glamorgan have signed 26 year-old Billy Root from Nottinghamshire on a two-year contract. He averages over 30 with the bat across all formats and has scored three hundreds, so there is obviously some potential there.  He may not be a superstar like his brother; but the hope is that he is better than just your average Joe.

Another 26 year-old, Craig Meschede, has signed a two year contract extension so it is clear that attempts are being made to create a solid core of proven talent.

 What’s next?

An external review commissioned by Chief Executive Hugh Morris has resulted in Morris himself stepping down from his other role of director of cricket. The club is starting the search for his successor immediately.

An external review commissioned by Chief Executive Hugh Morris has resulted in Morris himself stepping down from his other role of director of cricket. The club is starting the search for his successor immediately.

In addition, head coach Robert Croft has lost his job, ending three years in the job and, overall, a 30-year career with Glamorgan.

Whoever inherits these roles may find themselves clutching a poisoned chalice. They will, hopefully, be given time to get to grips with what is obviously a major issue of under-performance across all formats.

Season Rating

It is easy to use emotional terminology in describing Glamorgan’s season; and in all truth, it could hardly have been worse.

I am mindful, however, of the words of the inimitable Richie Benaud. One of his golden rules of commentary was: “The Titanic was a tragedy, the Ethiopian drought a disaster, and neither bears any relation to a dropped catch” or, he no doubt might have added, a season’s poor results.

We can give a small amount of credit for a no worse than average Vitality Blast season. Overall, however, the best I can offer is:

 Mark: 2/10

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