May 21, 2013

County cricket

A little less rain and a few more runs, please

Peter Miller
Mark Wallace with the gloves, April 13, 2013
One of the nicest men in cricket: Mark Wallace has hit a strong run of form  © Getty Images
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Undertaking a 90-mile round trip in the almost certain knowledge that the game of cricket you are planning to watch will be abandoned pushes the envelope of logical behaviour. Nonetheless this is what I did for the Glamorgan verses Unicorns games.

I am by nature an optimist, often despite overwhelming evidence that this optimism is misplaced. As I drove down the motorway in near torrential rain straining to see the road due to my poorly functioning windscreen wipers I said to myself, "once I get closer to Cardiff it will brighten up." Despite the rain continuing to fall in almost biblical proportions I still convinced myself that it looked brighter in the nation's capital.

Once in the ground even my relentless sunny attitude began to fade as I saw the puddles on the covers on the outfield that would have made an ideal hunting ground for wading sea birds. I still sat in the ground until the game was called off, about two and half hours later than everyone apart from the umpires had concluded there would be no cricket that day. To lose the Unicorns fixture to the weather was a bitter blow as a big win against the "best of the rest" side would have done Glamorgan's net run-rate the world of good.

In the Championship match versus Essex everything was there for a Glamorgan win, apart from first-innings runs. As that is the biggest requirement to win a first-class fixture it meant that Glamorgan spent the rest of the match running up the down escalator. With five of the top seven falling for under 20 the first innings score was always going to be below par. That is not to take anything away from the ever consistent David Masters who did his standard job for Essex of keeping it tight and taking wickets.

Jim Allenby made another excellent score in the seventies and Stewart Walters made some runs. Walters was in fluent form from the minute he arrived and was driving the ball with real confidence. This was a massive difference from the rest of the season so far where you could set your watch by him falling over on a shot and getting lbw. Walters played for Swansea in the South Wales Premier League on the Saturday before the Essex game where he scored an unbeaten 145 opening the batting. It goes to show runs are runs when it comes to building confidence.

To compound the lack of runs in the first dig Glamorgan also developed the much feared "Feet For Hands Syndrome" (FFHS) which leads to any ball that heads your way in the air being as easy to grip as a soggy bar of soap. To make this worse when Ravi Bopara missed a straight ball that cannoned into his back pad it looked as if Glamorgan may keep Essex within touching distance, but for reasons only the umpire is aware of it was given not out. Ravi went of the make 145 and from there it was hard to see a way back.

The second innings was a much better effort from Glamorgan and it saw the first hundred of the Championship season for the club. Skipper Mark Wallace was the player to get to three figures first. Pretty close to be the nicest man in cricket, Wallace scoring runs is always cause for celebration, and combined with Walters (98) and Wagg (55) Glamorgan at least set Essex a competitive total, but not competitive enough as they chased it down with some ease to make it two Championship loses in a row for Glamorgan.

There are times when fans will put up with a loss, and that is when the team fights. A heroic failure is as British as Chicken Tikka Masala, and is always a favourite. Glamorgan produced just such a performance against Gloucestershire in the YB40. Having been set an improbable 289 for victory they got off to a bad start with Will Bragg out lbw second ball. The failures of Marcus North and Chris Cooke should have meant that Glamorgan were on the back of a huge loss. Wallace had other ideas. A career best, unbeaten 118 got his side within touching distance, supported by Wagg who scored his maiden one-day fifty. As it was they finished eight runs short of victory. It was Family Fun Day at the SWALEC, let's hope this cracking game brings the kids back again.

Time for more relentless positivity and misguided optimism...

Glamorgan have already performed better this season that most people thought they would. The bowling attack is settled and effective; the second innings against Essex showed that this batting line up can score runs; they have made a decent start to the YB40 with the batting line up scoring over 270 in every game. However, a few more first-innings disappointments and even I might start feeling glum. Thanks to the Champions Trophy taking up residence at the SWALEC stadium Glamorgan do not play a home fixture again until the July 3. A road trip without consistent top-order runs could be an arduous one.

Peter Miller writes for thearmchairselector.com. The two things he loves most are ugly runs and cricket stats. He tweets here

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Miller
Peter Miller is the UK editor of thearmchairselector.com. He has written on cricket for All Out Cricket and Sports Illustrated. A long-standing cricket nerd, he lives in Wales with his long-suffering wife and many dogs. @TheCricketGeek

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