Nick Selman batted for close to six hours for his knock of 73 as Glamorgan eked out a thrilling draw, despite the late burst of wickets from the Warwickshire seamers on the final day. Glamorgan were consigned to the wooden spoon as Warwickshire finished third in a winless Central Group campaign for both sides.
That Glamorgan denied Warwickshire their first – and only – victory of the Bob Willis Trophy hardly even begins to tell the tale of their valiant defiance. It was admirable on two counts; first being that the Welsh county had only ever lasted beyond 90 overs just twice in eight innings this season. Second, given their poor batting returns being a common theme and a sorry sight, a draw was, perhaps, the least they could do to repay the unpaid dues to their far more successful bowlers.
Needing to chase 332 or bat 95 overs on the final day was the challenge for Glamorgan batters, and accomplishing either task was equally unimaginable. Not least when Ryan Sidebottom sent back opener Joe Cooke and latest number three Owen Morgan off successive deliveries in the 19th over. However, skipper Chris Cooke and Selman forged a partnership worth 61 and steered their side safely at 69 for two.
It was soon evident Glamorgan would assume the customary path to bat 95 overs, or at least attempt to at that stage, when Cooke feathered an edge off Olly Hannon-Dalby. Root followed his skipper six overs later edging one to second slip off the same bowler to hand him his second wicket of the day. Selman brought up a 146-ball fifty in the process but if he was to pull off the heist, he needed an accomplice in his subterfuge.
Callum Taylor, who has looked the part this season apart from the captain in the batting department, steadied the ship alongside Selman and played the perfect foil in a 67-run partnership which lasted close to 30 overs. Such feats of abstinence have been far and few between, and it was only interrupted by the occasional cover drive or a punch down the ground on a distinctively quick outfield.
However, both were dismissed in the space of three overs but it was Selman’s LBW call which invited suspicions when umpire Rob White did not hesitate to comply with Hannon-Dalby’s appeals despite the ball hitting far above the knee roll.
The onus fell on Daniel Douthwaite and Tom Cullen to bat out 18.5 overs with four wickets in hand. Perhaps for the first time for Cullen, who is out of contract at the end of the season, boundaries were welcome but not the utmost priority with a positive result a far-fetched fantasy.
However, Warwickshire swung momentum back in their favour in the last ten overs as spinner Alex Thomson accounted for Cullen, and Sidebottom drew an edge off Douthwaite to leave Glamorgan reeling at 220-8 with 52 more deliveries to fend off.
The recurring theme of the day was fixated on Glamorgan losing wickets every time it seemed they were close to safe waters. Superstitiously, it seemed every time BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire’s cricket voice Clive Eakin left the commentary box, the visitors snagged a wicket and when he did so again shortly before Liam Norwell delivered the penultimate over of the match, it was quickly apparent the visitors would romp home any minute.
However, if it was Timm Van der Gugten with the ball, who denied Ian Bell a farewell century, it was Van der Gugten again, this time with the bat, to deny him a farewell win with a customary leave outside off.
To say Warwickshire seamers did not do enough to send him off with a fitting tribute would invite mild protestations but there is a chance of redemption when they meet again at Edgbaston on Friday evening albeit in a T20 encounter.