Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
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Lancashire 180 for 1 (Jennings 77*, Wells 50) beat Glamorgan 177 (Ingram 54, Bailey 3-22) by nine wickets
Craig and Charlie Reid can rest easy. So can Somerset's chief executive, Gordon Hollins, and so can many other supporters of Hibernian FC in Craigmillar, Sighthill and Muirhouse. Football's finest anthem will not be appropriated to exalt the summer game. There wasn't much sunshine on Neath today.
Very little singing either, come to that, unless we count Lancashire's one-word victory chant, which is about as tuneful as a drunk banging two bin-lids together. Unfortunately for their opponents, Lancashire's cricket is more accomplished and altogether more worthy of the Reids' proclamations. Their victory today, which maintains their excellent chance of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Royal London Cup, was achieved with 14 overs to spare as they overhauled 177, Keaton Jennings making an unbeaten 77 and the outcome never in serious doubt once Glamorgan's batsmen had failed badly on a wicket that played well.
Religion is never far away in Neath. For all that the town seeks to transcend stereotype, there is still a Welsh chapel; there is still St David's church, which lies within the rectorial benefice; and there is still the English Baptist chapel which does service as a food bank in a street that also boasts a tattoo parlour.
Consumption and decoration came in rather different forms at The Gnoll. The Round Table ran the hospitality tent and they placed several round tables within it. In the public areas, there were representatives of local clubs: Cimla, Briton Ferry and Ynysygerwn and some wore their polo shirts or baseball caps.
That said, it takes more than local enthusiasm to disturb Lancashire's cricketers this year and the visitors' chances were bolstered when they won the toss on a cloudy morning and opted to bowl on a pitch that had spent most of the previous 24 hours under cover while warm rain fell. We wondered how a new white ball might behave on it; we found out soon enough.
At least, it did enough to catch the edge of Tom Bevan's bat in the second over of the morning when the opener attempted a Waitrose drive at an Aldi point in the innings. And it helped Tom Bailey again in his next over when Sam Northeast was leg before wicket for just two. But any thoughts of a very low-scoring scrap were quickly dispelled by Colin Ingram, whose scorching square cut off Will Williams was an immediate rebuttal of the notion. Ingram collected two further fours later in the over but neither was as fierce. Indeed, they rather set the tone for a half-century marked by steady accumulation and a resolve not to let the bowlers settle.
Other Glamorgan batsmen were not as clear-minded. Kiran Carlson batted well for nearly an hour before coming down the pitch to Will Williams and playing a curious cut-cum-slap that only nicked a catch. Chris Cooke made nine before his flat-footed drive gave Liam Hurt his first wicket and it needed Joe Cooke's 53-run stand with Ingram to ensure Glamorgan had a total which impersonated respectability.
Cooke made 43 of those runs and his seven boundaries, almost all of them thunderous, included three fours and a six off George Balderson, the mightiest blow arcing over the stand and into the adjoining rugby ground. Balderson settled the score in the same over, though when Cooke's next attempted drive merely skewed off a thick edge to Danny Lamb at deep point. That wicket was the first of six to fall in 14 overs as Glamorgan collapsed from 129 for 4 to 177 all out.
Having set himself to bat the innings, Ingram picked up Danny Lamb sweetly, all too sweetly, alas and was caught at deep square leg by Luke Wells. The tailenders soon returned to the conifer-shrouded pavilion, easy pickings for an all-seam Lancashire attack packed with bowlers who expect to prosper.
The visitors' pursuit was a gentle amble. Not too gentle, perhaps, for the spectator who was injured when a Glamorgan fielder tumbled into him when trying to prevent Wells' third six, and painful for home bowlers who must have known quite early on that they were on the wrong end of a towsing. Otherwise, though, it was easy for Wells, who made 50 before he was leg before when attempting to sweep Carlson, and easier still for Jennings and Josh Bohannon, who put on an unbroken 97, with Bohannon's pull off Andy Gorvin ending the match in the brightest sunlight of the day.
Yet nobody left the Gnoll until Lancashire were within ten runs of victory, and this was more evidence that such occasions as this are treasured in a town where sport has often offered escape; a town where three successive Australian tourist teams played Glamorgan in the latter years of the last century; a town where, on darkening November evenings in the 1980s, cathode rays lit the small parlours on Saturday evenings and Paul Thorburn's penalty goals hung in the air like a song.
Royal London One-Day Cup