Cricket: Glamorgan chase single

Stephen Brenkley reports on the Cup ambition driving Maynard
Click to follow
The Independent Online
SOME MATTERS may preoccupy Glamorgan more than returning to Lord's for a Cup final but they are not necessarily concerned with cricket. It has become a desire bordering on an obsession. Indeed, there is the suspicion, neither confirmed nor denied in Cardiff, that they would rather be pitching up at the Grace Gates to compete for the NatWest Trophy on 29 August than taking their place in the Division One of the two-tier County Championship next season.

Their captain, Matthew Maynard, has made no secret of his ambition. He has made it clear that it is his main target for the season. On the county website he says it has been an objective for some years now. Division One gets no mention. The county's chief executive, Mike Fatkin, tried to lend some perspective to the drive to Lord's as they prepared for the home quarter-final tie with Gloucestershire next Wednesday.

"We want to do both, of course," he said. "I don't think it's a case of concentrating on one but we have made it difficult for ourselves in the Championship and got some bad results by not really scoring enough runs. We want to be in the top division of the Championship but we take the view that it isn't critical in year one. To get in the top flight we reckon we'd now have to win all our matches; to get to Lord's we have to win twice."

It is 22 years since Glamorgan reached their solitary final, to be well beaten by Middlesex, and their home advantage before passionate support will make them favourites to progress further. Their new overseas signing, Jacques Kallis, is expected to make his long-awaited debut in a National League match today and by Wednesday should be available to bowl as well as bat. Kallis, too, has Lord's fever.

He wants to be there to compensate for the narrow failure of South Africa to reach the World Cup final. Glamorgan, after a season of injuries to senior players, should be at full strength which, with the likes of Maynard and Steve James, should be too strong for Glouc-estershire's uncertain batting.

While the Welsh ask for little more than one more trip to Lord's, Lancashire surely must be sated with them. They are the holders of the NatWest Trophy and have been in 10 finals of the first knockout competition alone. To stay in with a chance of making it 11 they must overcome Yorkshire at Old Trafford, a fortress whose apparent impregnability has been reinforced by the arrival of the wonderful Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Mura-litharan. For Yorkshire to win, their Australian, Greg Blewett, will have to perform at last.

Surrey, the fancy dans, should fancy coming through the tie against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road. But their returning Test players might be tired and Northants have played so poorly in the Championship that they have only one realistic prize to aim for. With their tough, stylish Australian, Matthew Hayden, not to mention Graeme Swann, the next new glory boy of English cricket (and one with the right stuff, too), a Northants win would not be a surprise.

The match at Taunton between Somerset and Kent should see victory for the home side. Kent have reached plenty of finals in recent years without winning but seem to be in a state of inadequacy. Somerset have been transformed not so much by their perky coach Dermot Reeve as by another uncompromising Aussie, Jamie Cox. Just look at the form of the others who have followed his lead for evidence. Glamorgan, Yorkshire, Northants and Somerset for the semi-finals.

Comments