2013 in a nutshell:
Championship Division Two – 8th;
Late season home victories, over Leicestershire at St Helens and Gloucestershire in September’s fourth week, merely glossed over a disappointing campaign characterised by insufficient top order runs, a failure to drive home advantageous positions and haunted by a calamitous run chase on the third afternoon at Colwyn Bay versus Lancashire.
YB40 – Losing finalists;
The season’s highlight no doubt was the first Lord’s appearance since 2000 as Glamorgan’s retro blue and yellow strip brought back memories of the glory year of 1993. Sadly, Nottinghamshire’s big guns prevailed in the end aided by guest appearances by Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann.
Friends Life Twenty20 Cup – 3rd Midlands Wales West group
Despite winning the opening four games, the campaign fizzled out by winning only one further match, and ended with a dreadful home display in the final must win fixture where overseas batting flop Marcus North couldn’t get the ball off the square, and international bowlers Simon Jones and Nathan McCullum got carted to several Cardiff postcodes.
Out go Jones (at last), Nick James, Alex Jones and North together with coach Matthew Mott, who’s paid the price for three years of underachievement.
In comes Toby Radford to head up the coaching plus the welcome return of Hugh Morris as Chief Executive. On the playing side experienced South African international batsman Jacques Rudolph enters as the overseas player but it seems unlikely at this stage that a T20 specialist will be recruited due to the elongated fixture schedule in that tournament.
Veteran Murray Goodwin (above) and all-rounder Jim Allenby were excellent in 2013 with over 1,200 first class runs each. If Rudolph can bring stability to the top order then there are grounds for optimism.
However, too many players are under achieving. Battle hardened county batsmen should have career averages well in excess of their ages, but this is barely the case with Ben Wright (aged 26, average 28), Will Bragg (27 years, 28 average), Mark Wallace (32 years, 29 average) all against Division Two bowling. Gareth Rees came back well on recall in the second half of the season with two centuries and three fifties whilst Chris Cooke nailed down a number four spot.
There’s probably a lack of explosiveness for a successful T20 side but there’s enough experience to build a platform in the 50 over game.
It’ll be good to see Huw Waters and Will Owen back following a variety of problems. Graeme Wagg remains feisty and competitive but takes too few wickets and at an average of over 50 in 2013.
Ruaidhri Smith and John Glover show promise in a well staffed seam department, but the go to man is often Allenby with his underrated (by England’s one day selectors) first change line and length.
In the spin department, Dean Cosker is a reliable performer in one day cricket but has a poor strike rate in the Championship. Off spinner Andrew Salter is the club’s hope to fill Robert Croft’s boots.
Key Man – Jim Allenby
Allenby signing an extended contract at Glamorgan was met with much relief at the club as Warwickshire were amongst his many suitors.
Thankfully restored as T20 captain after being shamefully sidelined by Mott, Allenby leads by example with bat, ball and in the field.
Often the man to rescue Glamorgan from a 48/4 type position he is much valued on the county circuit, and it is borderline unbelievable that England continue to ignore this domestically qualified Australian for international T20 cricket, as he is clearly superior to many of those who continue to get selected.
A Glamorgan captain in waiting, he has first class averages of 44 (batting) and 25 (bowling), a sure sign of a fine all rounder coming in at 6. He is equally at home in white ball cricket opening the batting with much intent.
He is, in my opinion, Glamorgan’s best ever signing from another county.
Rising Star – Andrew Salter
One of the highlights of last season’s visit to Lord’s was the mature display of Haverfordwest off spinner Salter. Robert Croft’s slot is big one to fill, but in one day cricket and on favourable pitches during 2013’s hot spell, he showed plenty of promise with control, flight and guile supplemented with a reasonable rip of the cherry. Post University term, the club should give every opportunity to this part of Glamorgan’s future.
Coach and Captain
Welshman Radford comes with a big reputation as a coach and quickly became the talking horse last autumn after it was clear that Morris was returning at the administrative helm.
He’ll have his work cut out with some underperforming staff members. My guess is that he’ll need this season to get his desired squad, having inherited the majority of the current players.
Mark Wallace (above, passing 100 versus Gloucestershire in May 2013) continues as club captain and is popular on the county circuit, but it still remains a lot of work on top of keeping. He should score more runs with his ability and experience, and his place may not be as secure as it first seems.
Predictions and aspiration
Championship - 6th Div 2
With Surrey nailed on to go straight back up, everyone else is playing for one promotion spot. I just cannot see Glamorgan scoring enough runs to set up the bowlers. We’ll take wickets with seam but the spin department may not be potent enough in a dry summer.
Twenty 20 - 4th in group
It’s back to an expanded South Group pool for the Friday night bashes, so there’s plenty to play for as the top four qualify for a quarter final spot which is feasible, but a top two place for a home tie seems less likely.
Royal London 50 Over Cup - semi finals
Possibly Glamorgan’s best chance of a challenge as longer form one day cricket, with less explosive batting styles, seems to suit the resources available. Nottinghamshire (home) and Somerset at Taunton will be tough, but 2nd place in the group gets you a home quarter final, which should be the minimum goal for a club with a host of experienced one day performers.