Cricket: James makes lightning strike

Glamorgan 254-5 Warwickshire 238 Glamorgan win by 16 runs
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ON SCREEN it was no contest: Glamorgan's flaky batting against Donald, Munton, Giddins and Giles? Warwickshire, five-times winners, against a team who have appeared in one final.

Mist over the Severn Bridge, a sticky morning and Matthew Maynard electing to bat first. Was he mad? Glamorgan's recent record in chasing is so poor, apparently, that batting first was thought the safer option.

In fact Maynard could barely have read the situation better if he had seen a film replay before the start. The pitch was flat, the outfield fast, a brisk breeze blew down the valleys and the great Allan Donald had to leave for treatment on his left ankle in just the second over.

Donald failed to appear again until the 13th over, at which point Glamorgan had crept, rather timidly, to 34 runs. His fourth ball, however, had Alun Evans caught behind. Most of a good crowd were silent, as if expecting to see the rest of the Glamorgan order led out for execution. Donald's absence for four overs though, while he had the ankle packed in ice, took the stuffing out of Warwickshire.

If there was a tactical bowling plan - Nick Knight led in the absence of the injured Neil Smith - then it was difficult to follow. The immediate beneficiary was Steve James, who reached his third century in the competition in a well-timed innings - 50 coming in 30 overs - and with the foundation laid he was able to join his captain in some late afternoon celebrations, Maynard lifting Ashley Giles for six, 12 coming off one over from Donald.

To be fair "White Lightning" was more growling thunder, reducing his run and his pace to protect the ankle, and Glamorgan, who would have settled for 200, took 51 off the last five overs.

Flashing stroke play by Anurag Singh proclaimed a belief in reaching 256, but his departure, the victim of a ball of immaculate length from Darren Thomas, and the advent of Robert Croft and Dean Cosker, had the Bears sliding.

Knight and Trevor Penney fell attempting to sweep, Dominic Ostler went to an astonishing slip catch by Maynard (pray that at least one television camera was there), Graeme Welch to a smart legside stumping and it was left to David Hemp, himself nursing a groin and needing a runner, to prolong the event, Munton and Giles staging a proper finale.

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