Worcestershire travel to Cardiff for round five of the County Championship. In rain affected games last week, both teams came away with draws. Glamorgan failed by just one wicket to defeat Yorkshire, while Worcestershire had to withstand an onslaught from Sussex’s Ollie Robinson, who finished with career-best figures of 14/117. The two counties lie fourth and fifth in the table and both will be hoping to make a move towards one of the two promotion spots.
Last season Glamorgan enjoyed the spoils between the two counties. In June they won a roller-coaster tussle at Worcester, having conceded a 132-run first innings deficit thanks to 6/44 from Joe Leach. They then bowled Worcester out for 199 in their second innings and chased down 332 thanks to a century from Colin Ingram and an undefeated 99 from Billy Root. In the return fixture, Worcestershire were thwarted by the weather having made Glamorgan follow on. Gareth Roderick scored 172, while Ben Gibbon and Dillon Pennington each picked up four wickets.
Glamorgan will be hoping that opener Eddie Byrom has recovered from the back spasm that kept him out of the game at Headingley and the batting of the Welsh team is clearly their strength. The bowling has been heavily reliant on the seam duo of Timm van der Gugten and Michael Neser, who between them have taken 33 of the sides 57 Championship wickets so far this season. James Harris and Jamie McIlroy posed more of a threat as Glamorgan hunted down victory against Yorkshire, but they will need more consistent performances from the back up seam bowlers, particularly in the absence of a significant spin threat. New recruit, Harry Podmore has been left out of the side for the last two games and Glamorgan will be hoping that he can find form in order to provide some extra bowling options. At present the attack looks very one-paced, with only Neser regularly clocking speeds over 80 mph.
Worcestershire’s batters have also been in the runs, with four of their top six scoring more than 240 runs so far this season. They persist at the top of the order with the swashbuckling style of Ed Pollock, despite making just 137 runs at 17.0, but Azar Ali is fresh from an undefeated century that was key to holding off Sussex. Leach continues to lead the attack, topping the Worcestershire wicket-taking so far this season with 14, backed up by Gibbon who has 13 scalps. The wickets have been shared around more than with the Glamorgan attack and they are likely to pose a more consistent threat.
The batting line ups look stronger than the opposition bowling and a draw is the most likely outcome, particularly with the risk of time being lost to rain. Batting on day one may be tricky, but dismissing teams on day four has been a problem at Sophia Gardens with the pitches tending to become more benign and neither side has a strong spin option.
After an injury-plagued 2022 Australian-born, Dutch international Timm van der Gugten has had a very productive start to the season, taking 21 wickets at just 21.09. He has stepped up to fill the gap left by Michael Hogan and provides a threatening new ball attack alongside Neser. The only question is whether the support bowlers are good enough for Glamorgan to be able to take the 20 wickets needed to start winning games. Van der Gugten has also contributed 110 runs at 33.33, including a half century.
Matthew Waite has moved to Worcestershire from Yorkshire to help fill the gap left by the departure of Ed Barnard. He has not made a bad start at his new county, scoring 265 runs at 66.25, including an undefeated century, as well as taking eight wickets with his seam bowling. With him coming in at nine, there is plenty of depth to the Worcestershire batting.
Neser and van der Gugten have had a heavy workload, but the inconsistency of the change bowling means they are unlikely to get a rest.
Glamorgan squad (from): David Lloyd (c), Eddie Byrom, Kiran Carlson, Chris Cooke (wk), Dan Douthwaite, Marnus Labuschagne, James Harris, Jamie McIlroy, Michael Neser, Sam Northeast, Harry Podnore, Billy Root, Andrew Salter, Timm van der Gugten
Pennington has been out with a hamstring injury, while young off-spinner, Josh Baker is also coming back from injury having played in a second team match last week.
Worcestershire squad (from): Brett D’Oliveira (c), Azhar Ali, Josh Baker, Ben Cox, Adam Finch, Ben Gibbon, Jack Haynes, Adam Hose, Joe Leach, Jake Libby, Ed Pollock, Gareth Roderick (wk), Josh Tongue, Matthew Waite
Weather and Conditions
The current forecast is showers on day one, with better weather for days two and three. It has been a wet few weeks so help for the bowlers is likely to come early on, with the pitch flattening out and getting slower as the game progresses.
Date: 11th April 2023
Ground: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff