June 27, 2013

In Jim Allenby we trust

He is so great at rear-guard actions he would have reversed the fortunes of Crassus, King Harold, General Custer and Admiral Yamamoto

Thanks to the Champions Trophy Glamorgan have been evicted from their Cardiff home and have embarked on a road trip that would make Jack Karouac proud. Rather than having Ginsberg and Burroughs for company Glamorgan have had follow-ons and second innings fight backs. It has been quite a journey.

More exciting than any of this was that Glamorgan went past 400 in their first innings, twice! There have now been five hundreds in the Championship, just two fewer than the whole of last season. Glamorgan fans were calling for more first innings runs and the players have delivered. Not least Jim Allenby, who is the county's leading run scoring and averaging 75.80 in the County Championship. Such is the reliability of Jim Allenby you have to wonder if at some point Glamorgan will ask to begin their innings at 75 for 4 and open with him. Allenby is so great at rear-guard actions he would have reversed the fortunes of Crassus, King Harold, General Custer and Admiral Yamamoto.

In the games against Leicestershire and Kent the first innings lead was enough to enforce the follow-on. Heady heights indeed. Unfortunately in both cases the bowlers could not reproduce that cutting edge in the second dig. Against Leicestershire, fourth day rain saw them escape after a decent effort from their top four prevented a total capitulation. Against Kent runs from Rob Key and Darren Stevens in the second innings meant forcing a victory became increasingly unlikely. While draws are disappointing from such a strong position it is difficult to criticise the side for getting to such positions in the first place.

That brings us to the game against Worcestershire. Mark Wallace won the toss and chose to bowl. Five hundred runs and a Moeen Ali 250 later it appears that was the wrong call. From the point where Ali came to the crease with Worcestershire at 12 for 1 in their first innings Glamorgan where not in this game. Worcestershire felt they were on the wrong end of some bad luck when they lost to Glamorgan in Cardiff at the start of the season. As they swept them aside revenge must have tasted very sweet.

Going into the Twenty20 break Glamorgan have one Championship win, but they deserved more. Over in the Yorkshire Bank 40 things are a little rosier. On their travels Glamorgan have won two out of three in the and it leaves them well placed in Group C to qualify as winners or best runners up. Some luck with the Cardiff weather and a couple of wins when the competition starts up again and we can begin to dream.

And that brings us on to the T20 hopes where Glamorgan are dark horses. They have excellent bowling options in Mike Hogan, Mike Reed, Graham Wagg and Nathan McCullum (a late replacement for the injured Dirk Nannes). In McCullum, Glamorgan have made an astute signing. He has been in the UK since early May so is well acclimatised. As we have seen over its ten year history a decent spinner has become increasingly important in T20. Combined with this, McCullum is capable of providing runs from the lower middle order. That his first trip to the SWALEC since his signing saw him drop three catches whilst playing for New Zealand may have made a few Glamorgan supporters wince, but he has got his allocation of spills out the way early.

Of the other players that Glamorgan have at their disposal it is worth keeping an eye out for Chris Cooke. He may be a South African-born wicketkeeper but he won't have the gloves on. His explosive batting will be an asset. Will Bragg's game is ideally suited to going hard at the top of the order and in Marcus North and Murray Goodwin Glamorgan have some much needed experience.

And then of course we come back to Allenby. While he has been setting Division Two alight with his all-round skills in first-class cricket it is important to remember that for many, Twenty20 is his best format. Much will be expected of him with both bat and ball and his performances could well be the difference between a quarter-final and failure to qualify for the knockout stages. In Jim Allenby we trust.

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