Cricket: Cottey takes up task to steady Glamorgan ship

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The Independent Online
Glamorgan 293-5 v Middlesex

IF EVER Glamorgan needed Hugh Morris it was here yesterday. It must have been so frustrating for the champion county to know he was so close, in his office in the England and Wales Cricket Board building at the Nursery End.

He would have known how to get the most runs out of a genial pitch, the same one on which Middlesex had spent the last two days in their ill-fated Benson and Hedges Cup tie.

But Morris has retired. He is now the the ECB's technical director. Instead of their reliable run-machine walking out with the equally prolific Steve James, after Glamorgan had been put in to bat, their faithful supporters who had were there were treated to the sight of the wicketkeeper Adrian Shaw, who this season has batted in every position except No 6 and No 11 in all cricket, striding out to the middle.

If Shaw, a former centre with Neath, has ambitions to follow in Morris's footsteps, he will have to last longer than yesterday's two balls. He fell leg before to Jamie Hewitt, one of two victims for the promising paceman. But the carelessness and profligacy did not stop there.

James had motored sedately towards another three-figure innings (he had scored a double century at Northampton in the previous match) when he became guilty of driving without due care and attention on 79. He was snapped up at backward point by Owais Shah off Hewitt. He had spent almost three hours over his innings, hitting a dozen boundaries off the 131 balls he faced.

Adrian Dale, too, had looked a little out of touch in the two hours he took to make 36 before lunch, although he did share in a century stand with James; the captain Matthew Maynard can probably be excused since it was his first serious bat for a month. He was put out of action in catching practice on this ground at the beginning of May during warm-up before their AXA League match. He had spent more than an hour over his 25 runs before injudiciously hooking Angus Fraser to Hewitt at long leg. It all must have had Morris spinning on his office chair at the wasted opportunities.

Finally it came down to Michael Powell, 20, to show his elders and betters how to go about building an innings. He made his maiden championship hundred against Northamptonshire and was equally studious for close on two hours. He was out leg before to give Mark Ramprakash his second wicket of the innings, having contributed precisely half the fifth-wicket partnership of 86 with Cottey. Now here at last was someone who did know how to apply himself.

Cottey, another of the Northampton hundred makers, was unbeaten on 73 by the close. If Glamorgan are to record their first championship win here since 1954 - and they have only beaten Middlesex six times in 76 meetings in the competition, so the odds are stacked against them - then Cottey and his partner Robert Croft have much to do today.