Glamorgan had the better of their neighbours Gloucestershire in their opening T20 game on a glorious Friday night in Bristol. Gloucestershire gave a debut to all-rounder Ben Charlesworth and Graeme van Buuren came in having recovered from a hamstring injury. The surprise was the omission of James Bracey, with Grant Roelofsen taking the gloves. For Glamorgan, 19-year-old Ben Kellaway made his first appearance and while Michael Neser had been named in the squad, he was not released by Australia. That allowed Ruaidhri Smith to come into the starting eleven, a player who had been released by the county at the end of last season because of recurrent injury problems.
Winning the toss, Glamorgan’s stand-in captain Kiran Carlson asked the Shire to bat first and after a blazing opening couple of overs from Chris Dent, the Glamorgan bowlers struck back to take three wickets for no runs in 12 balls and Gloucestershire were 18/3 from 3.1 overs. There was a fight back led by Ollie Price (37) and Jack Taylor (16), but it was debutant, Ben Charlesworth who was the mainstay of the Gloucestershire innings, making 56 from 39 balls. He put on 48 from 30 balls for the sixth wicket with Graeme van Buuren, who finished on 32 not out, but the Glamorgan bowlers held their nerve throughout, and the final total of 161/9 looked below par on a ground with a very fast outfield and a short boundary on one side. Dan Douthwaite was the pick of the visitor’s bowlers, finishing with 4/23, his last two deliveries producing wickets, while Jamie McIlroy took 3/30. The one concern for new coach, Mark Alleyne was some poor fielding which gifted Gloucestershire some boundaries.
When they came out to bat Eddie Byrom was not hanging about, but his cameo was brought to and end by Matt Taylor and Sam Northeast soon joined him back in the pavilion. Carlson and Colin Ingram then appeared to have taken the game away from Gloucestershire, putting on 69 from 36 balls before Carlson (35) was superbly caught at point by Zafar Gohar, making up for an earlier far simpler drop. Ingram was striking the ball sweetly and Chris Cooke (25) was equally comfortable until he was brilliantly caught by Price off his own bowling. At that point Glamorgan were 121/4 from 13.2 overs, needing just 41 from 40 balls. What should have been a comfortable chase on a pitch offering nothing to the bowlers became more problematic as Kellaway was bowled for three and Ingram was well caught over his head by Charlesworth off a top edged sweep, for 47. At 129/6 Gloucestershire were back in the game, Glamorgan having lost three wickets for eight runs. Douthwaite was then dropped by Payne diving at short third man, but he went in the same over to a diving catch on the boundary by Dent. Further desperate batting from the Glamorgan lower order looked to be handing the game to Gloucestershire with their spinners taking control. Gohar bowled Prem Sisodiya with the fourth ball of the penultimate over and at 149/8, the equation was 13 from eight balls. A dot was followed by a wide before Smith launched the final ball of the over, over square leg for six. Timm van der Gugten then calmed the Glamorgan nerves when he deposited the first ball of the final over, delivered by Tom Smith, over cow corner for another maximum and Glamorgan were home by two wickets.
While the game was undoubtedly an exciting contest for the neutral, neither team showed the quality that would indicate that they would be challenging come the end of the competition. Gloucestershire, who have now lost their opening two games, travel to Merchant Taylors’ School in Northwood to play Middlesex on Monday while Glamorgan take a trip down the M5 to Taunton on Sunday.