Cricket: Maynard the sublime

Worcestershire 476-9dec Glamorgan 355-8
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The Independent Online
In The late evening of a long day at Worcester yesterday, a Welsh batsman who never quite fulfilled the rich promise of his glorious youth played an innings of utter enchantment. It had been a bad day on a flat pitch for Glamorgan at the end of a bad week, but if Matthew Maynard was disconcerted or worried he exhibited not a trace of it.

Boundaries flowed from his flashing bat with spectacular assurance. The side he has led with such brio this season was in deep, self-inflicted trouble, their challenge for the Championship temporarily halted.

They had been kept in the field until the afternoon of the second day, then made porridge of chasing Worcestershire's total of 476, playing the shots of millionaires and deservedly accruing a pauper's return. Maynard was not in the least distracted.

He pulled serenely, drove with fierce aplomb all round the off-side and reminded all those there not just what might have been for him, but what uplifting pleasure county cricket can be. It took him 81 balls for his century, in which there were 20 fours of a most marvellous vintage.

Considering that when he entered Glamorgan were 78 for 3 and continued to donate wickets willingly at regular intervals, he could not have chosen a better time for his second century of the season and 42nd of his career. He pulled his side back into the match. In the context of their week - if they have not been seven days which shook the world they have sent a tremor rippling under the county's season - Glamorgan had a good morning.

Worcestershire resumed on 342 for 4 and by lunch Glamorgan had taken three more wickets including the precious one of Tom Moody. True, the Worcestershire lower order blazed away, but this was neither such a big deal nor such a big surprise on the surface. Stuart Lampitt struck two sixes off an otherwise blameless Robert Croft.

It was to Croft's credit after his week that he bowled with such commendable fortitude. He had a disappointing fifth Test, was involved in the televised and much repeated clash with Mark Ilott in the NatWest Trophy semi-final, was fined pounds 1,000 by the county and faces an ECB disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.

After losing to Essex it was important for Glamorgan to pick themselves up quickly. Instead, they not only lost the toss here but compounded it by losing quick wickets of Hugh Morris, Adrian Dale and Mike Powell.

Only Steve James stood out from these shenanigans. As he has done for two and a half seasons he looked like a man in form, played shots in front of and behind the wicket, reaching his 50 in 49 balls. It is testimony to his burgeoning self-confidence that he suffered little by comparison with his captain.