Cricket: Evans inspires Glamorgan

Durham 448 & 185 Glamorgan 387 & 247-7 Glamorgan win by three wkts
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The Independent Online
ALUN EVANS is not a name to strike fear into the hearts of many bowlers on the county circuit, but the 23-year-old right-hand batsman displayed both maturity and courage as he guided Glamorgan to their first County Championship victory since the defeat of Gloucestershire in mid- May.

That they should allow Durham to total 448 in their first innings yet still claim victory by three wickets with just nine balls of an absorbing match remaining says a great deal about Glamorgan's determination to prove their critics wrong.

And that they should successfully chase 247 off what turned out to be 66 overs after being 81 for 4 at one stage, is an even greater testament to the spirit that has resurfaced. It has been 10 weeks since Glamorgan last won a championship fixture and only a week since their inept performance against Gloucestershire in the NatWest Trophy on the same Cardiff ground.

It was perhaps ironic that, the day after England should revert to the off-spin of Peter Such in an attempt to upset New Zealand at Old Trafford this week, the largely forgotten Robert Croft should return his best bowling figures for seven years. Croft took advantage of a hole the size of a dinner plate outside the right-hander's off-stump to finish with 7 for 70 from 30.4 overs and give Glamorgan a chance.

Croft's efforts, though, looked to be in vain when Durham's own off-spinner, Nicky Phillips, took out four of Glamorgan's top five batsmen, including Matthew Maynard without scoring, on his way to a career-best return of 6 for 97 from 34 overs.

Fortunately for Glamorgan Jacques Kallis was still there, but it was the unsung Evans who proved the man of the moment. Kallis top-edged a reverse sweep when he had scored 60 off 113 balls with a six and five boundaries, and Darren Thomas did not last long, but Evans and his new partner Adrian Shaw refused to be intimidated by the lengthening odds.

Evans, whose previous highest score in the championship this season was 50, dominated a 79-run partnership for the seventh wicket. Shaw, whose contribution was no less valuable, contributed just seven of the first 50 of those runs but became increasingly confident as the stand flourished.

Glamorgan needed 63 when the final hour and the last 16 overs began to tick away. Only 31 were needed from the final 10 overs and the batsmen visibly relaxed as the winning line approached.

Phillips, though, gave Durham some faint hope when he tempted Shaw to flick to square leg, but only five runs were needed at that point and Glamorgan were not to be denied.

Croft may have hit the winning run, but it was the 23-year-old Evans who rightly earned the plaudits for his unbeaten 88 off 113 balls with nine fours. Victory was the tonic Glamorgan badly needed and, if they can follow it with more of the same, their season may not yet be over.