Summary of season
Whatever we write about Glamorgan’s 2023 season, there will be significant changes of personnel at the top of the club next season, with the departures of captain David Lloyd, Championship coach Matt Maynard and Chief Executive Hugh Morris. Each has had their successes during their periods in office, but the simultaneous exit of all three suggests some underlying tensions.
Lloyd has been with the county since his parents had to take him to Cardiff from his home North Wales for Welsh age-group cricket and he made his first team debut back in 2012. Since then he has scored 4998 first class runs at 30.85, many as a make-shift opener, a role he did selflessly. He has been club captain for the last two seasons and his departure was certainly a surprise to most Glamorgan supporters. He is moving to Derbyshire, where he looks likely to take on the captaincy role following the departure of Leus du Plooy and he will be joined by another ex-Glamorgan player, Aneurin Donald following the announcement of his move from Hampshire.
Hugh Morris returned to Glamorgan in 2013 and despite the relative lack of success on the field during his time at the helm, the severe financial problems he faced at the start of his tenure, with the club in debt to the tune of £17m, have been brought under control. The overdraft is down to £1.7m, with the intention of the club being debt-free by 2026. Throughout this time he has had significant health issues and that appears the main reason for his retirement.
Maynard returned as Glamorgan head coach in 2019, initially in an interim role, before receiving a three-year appointment at the end of that season. Poor performances in the Blast led to his role being restricted to the red ball format this season, with the appointment of Mark Alleyne as the white-ball coach. Glamorgan did not fare any better this year in the T20 competition, finishing eighth in the South Group and then just before the start of the One-Day cup it was announced that Alleyne would be joining Maynard as part of the Welsh Fire coaching staff. This left David Harrison in charge, a role he has had for the last three seasons, Glamorgan winning the tournament in 2021. However it does suggest a lack of clarity at the top and problems have recently been highlighted by accusations from former wicketkeeper Tom Cullen, who has raised issues of “cronyism” at the county, with “a lot of cliquey behaviour going on”. He links the departure of players such as Lloyd to such issues.
The pressure now falls on Director of Cricket, Mark Wallace, another of the ex-players to move into an off-field role at the club, to try and bring about a reset. Maynard, who still had another year on his contract, has cited a number of reasons for his departure, including his disappointment at not being involved in the white-ball cricket and “certain frustrations”. It waits to be seen if the split coaching role continues, with Alleyne having another year left on his contract.
On the field Glamorgan have had a very similar season to the last two, with steady performances in the Championship, without the ability to claim a promotion spot, alongside a disappointing Blast campaign and a One-Day cup where they fell just short of qualification for the knock out stages. They have been hampered by the restricted availability of their two main overseas stars, Marnus Labuschagne and Michael Neser, in particular Neser given the limited bowling resources at the club. However, those issues could have been predicted and criticisms from supporters centre around the failure to recruit adequate replacements.
Colin Ingram has been available, but having surprised people with a successful return to red ball cricket in 2022, has had a disappointing season with just 257 Championship runs at 25.70. Kiran Carlson, after a poor 2022, has been the main success story, standing in as captain following injuries to Lloyd and scoring 1068 Championship runs at 46.43, as well as 392 in the Blast and 332 in the One-Day cup. He also took 14 Championship wickets with his off-spin, as Glamorgan’s inability to field a frontline spinner continues. They were competing for a top two spot in Division Two of the Championship up until their one loss of the season, against Worcestershire who were able to secure the second promotion slot. A record of just one win and twelve draws highlights the issues around the penetration of their bowling attack and the benign pitches produced in Cardiff. The batters were generally able to put runs on the board, Carlson backed up by Billy Root with 884 runs at 52.00 and Chris Cooke with 733 at 45.81. However, following the departure of Neser, too much rested on the bowling arm of Timm van der Gugten. He ended with 39 wickets at 29.23 and Jamie McIlroy took advantage of staying fit, taking 24 at 30.66. Glamorgan had opportunities against Yorkshire and Sussex to post wins, but the final wicket eluded them in both matches. A front line seamer and spinner will be at the top of Wallace’s shopping list, if funds, which are stated as being limited, are available.
Alleyne was brought in to address failings in the T20 format and Glamorgan made a good start to the competition, securing wins in four of their first five games. However one win in the next nine left them well off a quarter final place. They were hindered by injuries to a number of batters, particularly Lloyd and Eddie Byrom and the bowling was put under pressure, McIlory maintaining a tight line, especially in the tough overs, ending as the top wicket-taker with 19.
In the One-Day cup Glamorgan finished just below a knock out spot, let down by poor batting displays against Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. A positive was the performances of 19-year-old off-spinning all-rounder Ben Kellaway, who scored 195 runs at 32.50, including two fifties and topped the wicket-taking with 17 at 22.92 and an economy of 5.41.
Vitality Blast: Eighth in the South Group
Metro Bank ODC: Fourth in Group B
LV= CC: Kiran Carlson 1068 at 46.43
Vitality Blast: Chris Cooke 419 at 38.09; Strike rate 171.02
Metro Bank ODC: Eddie Byrom 352 at 50.28. Strike rate 88.00
LV= CC: Timm van der Gugten 39 at 29.23
Vitality Blast: Jamie McIlory 19 at 22.52
Metro Bank ODC: Ben Kellaway 17 at 22.92
Player of the season:
Kiran Carlson was the clear winner of the player of the year award, reaching the 1000 run mark for the first time in his career. He was also the top run scorer in the One-Day Cup and chipped in with his part-time off spin. He is the favourite to take over the club captaincy role next season, having been at the helm for most of the matches this year. The only question will be whether he feels that his future ambitions may be better served elsewhere. At the start of his career he was talked about as the next Welshman to attract attention from the England selectors, but he has been dogged by inconsistency. At 25 he will still have ambitions in that direction, but the slow nature of pitches in Cardiff may not be best suited to his attacking style.
Ben Kellaway made his first team debut this season in the Blast, but it was in the One-Day cup where he was able to demonstrate his skills, with both bat and ball. He ended the competition as Glamorgan’s top wicket taker bowling his off spin from a good height. His opportunities early season may be limited because of University commitments, but he will be hoping to build on the Championship games he played at the end of the season.
Could have done better
The lack of wicket-taking bowlers is a problem, particularly in the absence of Neser. Plans to recruit a strike bowler for the final championship games never came to fruition and it is not since the retirement of Dean Cosker and Robert Croft that Glamorgan have had a recognisable spin threat. This problem will need to be addressed if they are compete in any of the competitions in 2024.
Need to work on
A criticism for a number of years has been the difficulty that players that have come through the academy system at Glamorgan, have had breaking into and cementing their places in the first team. Too many have poked their heads up, but been unable to put in consistent performances to help move the club forward. In the final championship game of the season, only two players can be said to have been products of Welsh age-group cricket, Carlson and James Harris. There do not appear to be any young players who are standing out in second eleven cricket at the moment, the player of the year award going to batter Asa Tribe from Jersey. The club young player of the year award was won by Zain ul Hassan, who was picked up from the South Asian Cricket Academy.
Changes have been made to the pathway structure, with Glamorgan taking over responsibility for Welsh age-group sides from Cricket Wales, but there has been no significant change in the coaching staff for many years. Despite the lack of spinners at the club, there is no recognised spin coach on the staff.
The evidence suggests that changes are needed off the field if there is to be any chance of success on it. With the departure of Morris, Maynard and Lloyd some new faces are guaranteed, but it is unclear as to the root cause of the issues and whether replacement of these individuals can create a solution. Glamorgan certainly cannot afford the loss of any more of their key players.
While there was optimism surrounding the challenge for promotion in the Championship, it fell well short at the tail end of the season, while the introduction of a white ball coach produced no improvement in results in the Blast. The disappointment for Glamorgan supporters will be the lack of any tangible progress in the development of young players.