Cricket: Glamorgan have to make way for the Boon show

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The Independent Online
The Australians. .414-4 dec

Glamorgan. . . . . 37-2

CASCADES were a feature of the Gnoll estate some 250 years ago, and for much of yesterday they were back in fashion as Australia's batsmen unleashed a torrent of runs at The Gnoll ground. There were contrasting centuries for David Boon and Mark Waugh, and if there was any reason for disappointment among the big crowd at this pretty ground nestling at the foot of the Neath Valley, it was the absence of two important bowlers from their attack. Roland Lefebvre was resting a niggling groin strain, while Steve Watkin was enjoying a mid-season break.

Consequently, it remains a matter of conjecture how Watkin would have fared if the England selectors had given him the nod for the Headingley Test. True, he is the country's leading wicket- taker with 65 victims at 20 apiece. But, as Boon, Waugh, Michael Slater and Damien Martyn illustrated yesterday, there is a class and determination about this Australian batting line-up which makes county championship performances a less than reliable guide to Test form.

Not that the Welsh don't have a point when they argue that Glamorgan players are regularly ignored. Their captain, Hugh Morris, came into this game leading a county in contention for three titles this summer and personally boasting a first-class average of 51 from 1,128 runs, including five hundreds. Matthew Maynard's middle-order batting might have taxed the selectors' mind before now, and they can't help but notice that Adrian Dale, with 1,281 runs at 53, was the season's leading run scorer until Boon passed him yesterday when he reached 59.

Whether or not Boon had this in mind when he and Michael Slater opened the Australian innings is not important. He was quickly going about his business with all the ruthless precision of a hit man, and until Robert Croft reined in Australia's runaway start of 50 in 10 overs with 15 overs of economical off-spin, Boon was out-scoring Slater. He took four fours off consecutive balls from Steve Bastien, including one all- run effort.

For a time it looked as if Boon might lose patience against Croft. Instead, he got his head down until Morris relieved the pressure by removing the off-spinner, and then moved inexorably to his third century in consecutive innings; his ninth in 16 innings on this tour. He hit 20 boundaries in all and now needs one more hundred to join three other Australians - Don Bradman, Victor Trumper and Neil Harvey - who have scored 10 or more hundreds on a tour of England. Bradman, needless to say, did it three times.

Waugh's innings was a more flamboyant affair, full of free- flowing strokes and reckless abandon. He gave the diminutive debutant Stuart Phelps a start to remember, hitting him for four consecutive sixes - but then no bowler commanded Waugh's respect as he marched to 152 off 151 balls. Croft, who in the morning did not concede a boundary until his 14th over, and the steady Dale were both carted for sixes in an entertaining display that brought eight sixes in all and 16 fours. Phelps, a 17-year-old slow left- armer, may have gone to bed last night reckoning that Watkin must have known a thing or two.

Early in Waugh's innings, Phelps did spin one past the bat to suggest that Shane Warne and Tim May could make life difficult for the Glamorgan batsmen later in the game. But for the 20-year- old James Williams, Merv Hughes' ability to move the ball back off the pitch was sufficient to mar his first-class debut. Hughes added to Glamorgan's distress when he removed Morris with the last ball of the day.

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