Cricket / Man in the Middle: Another true-blue Brit awaits a call from Lord's

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The Independent Online
VIV RICHARDS admirers the world over will be hoping for another epic performance before the season is over. But it may be that the 24-year-old Adrian Dale proves to be the last player to partner the greatest of modern-day batsmen in one of those record-breaking displays that have studded his career. The bare statistics of their Cardiff collaboration make intriguing reading.

The first is that Glamorgan contrived to lose the match. They were bowled out a second time by Middlesex (Phil Tufnell 8-29) for 109. But of their first effort, 562 for 3 declared, Dale (214no) and Richards (224no) contributed an unbroken 425. By a margin of 95 runs, it was the highest stand for any Glamorgan wicket. In English first-class cricket it was the third-highest for the fourth wicket and the seventh-highest of all time.

'The wicket was always easy,' admits Dale, 'although the spinners got a bit of turn. We realised we had to graft against them and try and score off the seamers, and by the second day something a bit special seemed on.'

Dale, capped last year, is of the Glamorgan generation who cannot praise King Viv too highly. 'There is such a presence about him. When we're fielding he'll choose his moment to say something and it lifts everybody. When you're batting with him and you play a good shot he makes sure that everybody, especially the opposition, knows about it]'

After his Championship feat Dale was brought down to earth in Glamorgan's successful NatWest tussle against Durham. 'I tried to take a quick single to Paul Parker. Not the right man to choose,' he observes.

A temporary setback, though, for a man who has forced himself into one of the best-looking Glamorgan sides for many a year. 'Yes, it's lovely to be winning for a change. We had this membership drive and now we've got over 10,000 members, a record. Decent crowds make us play better, and better results mean more members. A number of the younger players have matured at the same time, and the seniors are all on top form at the moment. Signing Roland Lefebvre has helped the balance, and we prepared well in the spring. It's all come together.'

After some recent publicity, at a time when cricketers' passports are scrutinised as well as their averages, Dale stresses that he is a true-blue Brit. 'My father was working in the construction industry in South Africa when I was born, and I was there for six months. But my parents made sure to take out British citizenship for me.'

As the Welsh lilt in his voice confirms, Adrian Dale is no more a son of the veld than Ted Dexter is the quintessential Italian. And whether or not he overcomes the distance between Cardiff and Lord's in future years (a problem currently familiar to Hugh Morris, Matthew Maynard and Steve Watkin), there's surely no doubt that there are Glamorgan double centuries still to come from one of the country's most promising young batsmen.

(Photograph omitted)