Mark Cosgrove batting versus Ireland early season 2006
A solitary victory over Ireland (what ever happened to them?) in the 50 over group was followed up with a Twenty 20 campaign which started brightly but drizzled out under the Sophia Gardens lights against Gloucestershire. Relegation in the pro 40 was a ‘kick in the teeth’ for the Champions of 2002 and 2004. A tie at home to Durham, caused by Robert Croft failing to run in his bat like every schoolboy should, meant that the last day of the season was spent getting humiliated by Hampshire at the Rose Bowl in the Pro 40 play off live on Sky.
Even the most fervent Welshman was glad to see the back of Glamorgan's 2006 season.
Glamorgan face a season of much travel as Sophia Gardens is redeveloped
It is difficult, even for the most optimistic fan, to see anything other than another season of treading water. Seven years of financial losses have meant that the club has no choice but to go down the international cricket road, but that means short term pain before long term gain.
In Division 2 of the Championship, it is difficult to see Glamorgan being near the two promotion spots. Mid table is the best that can be hoped for with batting heavily reliant on David Hemp, Mike Powell and Jimmy Maher. The bowling resources are plentiful but, once Simon Jones is back in the England fold, it is hard to see enough new ball penetration.
The club’s days as ‘white ball’ specialists seem a lot longer than three years ago, but last year’s limited overs failures need to be rectified. On their day, Glamorgan are still an effective one day unit, and could well press for promotion from the Pro 40 Division 2, but being in the semi final spots of the Friends Provident South Division is unlikely.
Twenty 20 may give the club its best chance of brighter days in mid summer. A Leicestershire style ‘team of no stars’, with fast scoring batsman and sprightly fielders, may well be supplemented by a short term overseas signing. Officially, the club are still putting a financial package together to bring over New Zealander Brendan McCullum, who proved such a hit last season.
A gloomy Welsh winter contemplating an absence of overseas players for Glamorgan, was turned on its head in early Spring with the news that a generous benefactor (Dr James Hull) was prepared to put up a sizeable sum to bring Australian left hander Jimmy Maher back to the club following a spell at Durham. It transpires that a meeting in a Sydney hotel between the said benefactor, Glamorgan chairman Paul Russell and England assistant coach Matthew Maynard, proved to be the significant event with former Glamorgan hero Maynard stressing the need for a club to have an ‘overseas’ to lift standards.
With Maher unavailable until mid May, a curious sequence of events sees Matthew Elliott (below) return to the club for the first month of the season. In a cricket version of chaos theory, Pakistan’s early exit from the World Cup meant than Younis Khan was available full time for Yorkshire and, hence, they had no room for Elliott. Step forward the daffodil!
Matthew Elliott drives through the covers
for Glamorgan at the Rose Bowl in 2005
With one Australian opening the batting all year, the bulk of the remaining runs will need to come from skipper David Hemp and Mike Powell. On his day Powell is a class act, as exemplified by back to back double centuries in last year’s scorching July heat.
Of the rest, pint sized opener Dan Cherry really needs to nail down a place and can be grateful for some good scores at the tail end of 2006 for a contract extension.
Nicky Peng, recruited from Durham, is in the last year of a two year contract. He looks classy at the crease, but needs a big year, and an improvement on a career batting average of under 24, if he is to continue in the professional game.
Bulky all rounder Ryan Watkins shows much with both bat and ball but will need to prove his worth with at least one facet of his game if he is to fulfill much promise. Much the same can be said of Richard Grant – both in size and ability.
Numerically, the club’s seam bowling resources look healthy. Alex Wharf has recovered from injury, and youngsters Huw Waters and James Harris have much promise. Adam Harrison has proved injury prone and needs a good season’s bowling, whilst his older brother David is an effective performer with new ball. Unfortunately, he has come back from an MCC tour of New Zealand with a back injury.
Seasoned spin twins, Robert Croft and left armer Dean Cosker, will be expected to twirl away for many overs. Croft is still probably the best orthodox off spinner in the domestic game and need 52 wickets for a career first class haul of 1,000. Barring injury, he may well achieve this in 2007.
In summary, the bowling seems plentiful but often lacks penetration, and it seems as though the club may, should resources allow, go for an overseas bowler later in the season to supplement the attack, as opposed to another batting option.
Matthew Elliott / Jimmy Maher
David Hemp (capt)
That leaves Ben Wright to push Peng hard for a middle order place, with Grant and Mike O’Shea needing to take every opportunity. Bowling wise, left arm spinner Dean Cosker will play more as the season goes on, with the likes of seamers Huw Waters, Adam Harrison and James Harris all likely to feature in preference to journeyman Andrew Davies once injuries and, hopefully for England’s sake, a Test Match recall for Simon Jones happens.
Probably, David Hemp (below). With his Bermudan World Cup exploits now documented for the autobiography, he will need to use all of his experience in his first full year as captain, and that of the seasoned Maher and Croft, to get the best out of several young, talented, but ultimately unproven, cricketers. Furthermore, as the most naturally gifted of the home grown batsman, 1,000 championship runs from the No.3 spot is a minimum.
He will need to spend plenty of time at the crease in 2007.
Last year’s prediction of Huw Waters was spot on. Although lacking a yard in pace, Glamorgan have, at last, found a natural successor to Steve Watkin, as shown by a super ‘five-for’ against Somerset in August.
This year, I’m plumping for middle order, right handed batsman Ben Wright. I witnessed a classy 68 not out for England under 19s against their Indian counterparts at Cardiff last July, and Ben followed this up with a 72 on Championship debut versus Gloucestershire in September.
Hemp led the side to a fine victory over West Indies A at Ebbw Vale as deputy for Croft, but, that apart, is largely unproven as a leader. In a sense, he was the default selection as the ‘next most senior’ home based player. Likely to be a calmer influence than Croft (he’s more Michael Vaughan than Nasser Hussain), the younger members of the squad should relish the opportunity to take more responsibility.
Coaching wise, Glamorgan have opted for promotion from within, probably for financial reasons as much as anything else.
John Derrick’s association with club has ended after nearly twenty years as player, coach, and, last year’s poisoned chalice, Director of Cricket. The post has been discontinued after one year, with Adrian Shaw, wicket keeper in the 1997 Championship season, taking over as first team coach. Former England seamer, stalwart Steve Watkin takes over as Performance Director.