Watching Glamorgan play in 2020 was like watching a movie full of supporting characters. Sure the dogged cameos and heartwarming one-off contributions were strung along, but in no way did it make for a memorable viewing. Head coach Matt Maynard was the first to acknowledge his side’s all-round shortcomings and called on his batsmen to bat with more “mental clarity” and have “belief in their ability.”
The return of Marnus Labuschagne, who scored 1,114 Championship runs in 2019, is seen as an adhesive for the batting unit and a massive influence in terms of lifting the confidence in the dressing room. In his absence last season, Glamorgan failed to breach the 300-run mark more often than not, as they conceded 270+ on six occasions.
That’s not to say it was all gloom and doom. Captain Chris Cooke led the charge and dropped the anchor whenever the situation demanded vigilance. The bowling cartel led by Michael Hogan and Timm van der Gugten cut a workhorse-like figure, and often worked overtime to add valuable runs lower down the order.
They produced some of their most positive – and entertaining – cricket with their backs against the wall. One remembers the Bob Willis Trophy encounter at Wantage Road. In the Vitality Blast, the spin duo of Prem Sisodiya and Andrew Salter undid many a great top-order line-up and will be key to Glamorgan’s white-ball success once again.
The goal couldn’t be more succinct : the local players need to be the central figures of the narrative and not a mere appendage to the main act involving the batting maverick from Australia.
Outs: Kieran Bull, Graham Wagg, Connor Brown, Owen Morgan (all released), Merchant de Lange (Somerset as an overseas), Charlie Hemphrey (unavailable due to failure to re-classify as a local player)
Easily, Daniel Douthwaite. His role as an all-rounder across all formats has been accentuated by the departure of stalwarts Graham Wagg and Merchant de Lange. Last year, it seemed Glamorgan were threadbare on impact players, but Douthwaite’s steely resolve yielded him 14 red-ball wickets and he finished as their leading wicket-taker. Barring a rearguard knock of 86, he endured a quieter season with the bat, particularly on the white-ball front where he was moved up and down the order. Still their strongest range hitter though.
Player to watch
Callum Taylor. The 22-year old was one of the few tangible positives in 2020. His scintillating century on first-class debut against Northamptonshire was studded with 11 boundaries and six sixes, and came at a time when Glamorgan’s familiar batting woes had plagued them for the umpteenth time. With the ability to swiftly change the tempo and access all areas of the ground, his stock could rise when the senior players depart for The Hundred. One imagines his handy off-spin will be called upon far more often after he illustrated better control than red-ball regular Kieran Bull last season.
The sovereign remedy to Glamorgan’s batting frailties, Marnus Labuschagne, will arrive on Welsh shores in May after meeting his domestic commitments back home. Although his availability for the County Championship and the Royal London One-Day Cup is subject to his international schedule. Andy Balbirnie, Glamorgan’s leading run-scorer in the T20 Blast last year, will act as Labuschagne’s replacement in April for four Championship games.
Michael Neser, who had a stellar all-round season for Queensland Down Under, will join the club as a like-for-like replacement for the outgoing de Lange for four-day games and all of the Royal London One-Day Cup. Like Labuschagne, he too wont be available until May. The white-ball incumbent Colin Ingram will also return to the county he debuted for in 2015 as an overseas player, following the Brexit-enforced end of his Kolpak deal.
How they will fare
Glamorgan look a stronger white-ball outfit than their red-ball one and could push other favourites as they did in 2019. Could go as far as the semis in the shorter formats but an outside chance for the four-day titles. However, they would want their batsmen and bowlers to click in unison if they are to do better than their parlous last season.
Opening fixture: Thursday, 8th April 2021 vs Yorkshire at Headingley, County Championship
County Championship – 12/1
RLODC – 28/1
T20 Blast – 28/1