County previews March 30, 2016

Croft is back to stir Glamorgan fervour

Aneurin Donald - one of Glamorgan's bright new things © Getty Images

Coach: Robert Croft
Captain: Jacques Rudolph

Last season
Championship: 4th Div 2; NatWest Blast: 6th South Group; Royal London Cup: 8th Group B

In: Craig Meschede (Somerset), Nick Selman, Timm van der Gugten (Dutch passport), Harry Podmore (Middlesex, loan)
Out: Ben Wright (retired)
Overseas: Jacques Rudolph

2015 in a nutshell

Glamorgan's surprise promotion challenge petered out in the Championship - ultimately nobody scored 1000 runs or took 50 wickets - but fourth place still felt like a county punching above its weight. There were few signs, too, that Glamorgan were about to turn Cardiff into a T20 venue to be reckoned with. The outcome was that Toby Radford left as head coach after two years to return to a role of specialist batting coach.

2016 prospects

Chief executive Hugh Morris has reduced debts from £16m to less than £5m since returning to Glamorgan, where he was one of 10 homegrown players (plus Waqar Younis) who won the Championship in 1997. Welsh fervour is back in fashion with Robert Croft appointed head coach four years after he called time on a 23-year career. There is much work to do stirring the passions of south Wales and Croft will be grateful to inherit a promising crop of young players, batsmen especially. Craig Meschede is a good signing and Harry Podmore has six matches to make a Championship impact before his loan from Middlesex ends, but the task is a big one.

Key player

Graham Wagg, at 32, can look back on a career with some ups and downs but 2015 was one of his best with 838 Championship runs - including a double century against Surrey - and 45 wickets, second to Michael Hogan. A repeat would make Croft's job much easier as he tries to introduce a more settled approach.

Bright young thing

Aneurin Donald was named after the great Welsh politician Aneurin Bevan, architect of the National Health Service, so he should have just the attributes to return Glamorgan to rude health. Donald's career is still in its infancy - he was not even a regular pick in England's U-19 World Cup side - but every sign of development for this young batsman will be lapped up.

ESPNcricinfo verdict

Morris has stoutly suggested that promotion is a possibility, but with only one side going up it is hard to agree with him. Signs that Cardiff is embracing T20 would be a breakthrough.

Bet365 odds: Specsavers Championship, Div 2: 10/1; NatWest Blast n/a; Royal London Cup 25/1

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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