Kent denied by win for Croft
Glamorgan 390 (Allenby 125*) and 61 for 3 beat Kent 170 (Croft 5-31) and 280 by seven wickets
Anyone with ambitions of foisting franchises on domestic cricket might profit by studying the experience of Glamorgan over the past twelve months. On the day when Mark Wallace and his team ended Kent's hopes of promotion by inflicting a seven-wicket defeat on Rob Key's team, the county announced that its limited-overs side was reverting to the name "Glamorgan" after a year in which it had been known as the "Welsh Dragons".
Explaining the change back to the old name, Glamorgan chief executive Alan Hamer said that an attempt to "stir up the passion" of supporters by rebranding the team hadn't worked. People in Wales were not even sure what sport the renamed team played.
"If you go anywhere in Wales the majority of people will say that Glamorgan is a cricket county," said Hamer. "When you asked people who the Welsh Dragons were, they got confused as to whether that was a cricket team, a rugby union team, a rugby league team or a football team. We've got to be honest and go back to something which has worked and means a lot to our supporters. The decision we have now taken has been very well received.
"The Glamorgan brand is well-established and is known throughout the cricket world," continued Hamer. "It's apt that we move back to key principles, so as well as simply calling ourselves Glamorgan, the logo will revert back to the daffodil and we are going to spend time and money developing more of our home-grown players.
"I've been here six years but it's in the last twelve months that I've realised more than ever before the feelings and passions that people have for the Glamorgan brand. If you try to introduce a franchise, it will be up against a very powerful beast and it'll need to be very powerful if it's going to work."
Glamorgan's announcement was pleasantly complemented by events on the field on what turned out to be the last day of the season at Cardiff. For one thing, the county's bowlers and fielders showed the sort of passion and persistence which are needed to win important cricket matches against teams chasing honours. Their defeat of Kent confirmed that Derbyshire and Yorkshire would be promoted from Division Two. More significantly for cricket followers in the principality, this third Championship win of the season means that Glamorgan will avoid the wooden spoon and should finish at least seventh in the second division.
There were also personal reasons for joy, albeit mixed with some sadness. Most notably, these concerned Robert Croft who, after taking 2 for 76 from 22.4 overs, left the field as a Glamorgan cricketer for the last time. There was a standing ovation, a presentation and a raft of interviews, none of them less moving for being fairly predictable. Croft had the honour of dismissing the last Kent batsman, Charlie Shreck, and thus finishing his 24-year career with 1,175 first-class wickets against his name. Croft is a proud Welshman but he has been an equally proud Glamorgan cricketer. He has never needed rebranding.
"I'm delighted we're reverting back to the traditional name," said Croft. "I've always known us as Glamorgan and I'm pleased with the decision that's been made. The badge should be the biggest thing on your chest and I'm pleased it's going to be Glamorgan's badge again."
Yet Croft's personal achievement had to take its place within the architecture of a game which saw Kent's batsmen mount a courageous rearguard as they sought to make good the damage of the previous evening. Beginning the day needing 187 to make Glamorgan bat again, they eventually carved out a mere 60-run lead, although Mark Wallace's side lost three wickets reaching their target in the evening gloom.
Geraint Jones led Kent's fight by batting over three hours for his 81 runs before he was ninth out, top-edging a pull off Jim Allenby straight to Nick James at deep square leg. Until Jones was dismissed it was never quite clear that Glamorgan had the game under control and Croft himself expressed relief that his side had not been chasing 150.
Three wickets in eight balls for the impressive seamer John Glover in the second hour of the morning session had seemed to put Glamorgan in control of affairs. The loss of Sam Northeast for 40, Brendan Nash for a well-made 50 and Darren Stevens lbw first ball left Kent struggling on 96 for 5. But a 91-run stand between Jones and the former Glamorgan batsman Mike Powell restored Kent's fortunes. It took Croft's last vital contribution to remove his old mucker, taken by Allenby at slip for 41.
Allenby then offered further evidence of his all-round skills which have been on view during almost every session of this game by claiming the decisive wickets of James Tredwell, Matt Coles and Jones to finish with 3 for 47. When Shreck lofted Croft to Nick James at long off, Kent had been dismissed for 280 and Glamorgan's target seemed close to paltry.
The loss of three cheap wickets and two breaks for bad light served to delay matters a little but at least they afforded David Lloyd the chance to make his first runs in first-class cricket by cutting Matt Coles to the backward point boundary. Lloyd had walked to the crease with three noughts to his credit but made 11 before Ben Wright punched Charlie Shreck through midwicket to complete a win that was as well-received in parts of Chelmsford and Derby as it was in Cardiff.