Thomas grabs chance as Glamorgan pile on runs

It is getting to be a habit in this match - Championship debutants scoring half-centuries. After James Foster's first innings offering it was the turn of Ian Thomas. The difference this time was that Thomas is not even on Glamorgan's books. He was drafted in on the batting front following the injury to bowler Alex Wharf.

It is getting to be a habit in this match - Championship debutants scoring half-centuries. After James Foster's first innings offering it was the turn of Ian Thomas. The difference this time was that Thomas is not even on Glamorgan's books. He was drafted in on the batting front following the injury to bowler Alex Wharf.

As the run-machine, otherwise known as Glamorgan, built a substantial lead and a significant psychological advantage - this was only the second time they have topped 500 against Essex - it was Thomas, a student, who led the way.

He may not yet be on the staff but that is surely only a matter of time. The left-hander displayed poise, purpose and patience as he recorded his maiden Championship fifty. "I have been playing on a match-to-match basis," explained Thomas, who underwent a career-threatening back operation two winters ago. "I hope this will earn me a contract."

He admitted to feeling nervous when he went in on Thursday evening, but if he had a sleepless night it was not evident. What he did have was a slice of luck when he had reached 26. He decided to hoist the off-spinner Peter Such, his shot did not reach the boundary, but the fielder, Ashley Cowan, could only get finger-tips to the ball.

Rather surprisingly, given the discipline he had displayed throughout his innings, he fell to an identical shot, this time the man running around from long-off to long-on was another debutant, Essex's Will Jefferson, and he held on to the catch.

"I should have gone on to reach a hundred," said Thomas, who has been scoring well for the Second XI this summer, hitting a couple of hundreds against Derbyshire and Yorkshire. He is clearly full of runs, and so are Glamorgan. They racked up more than 700 for the loss of three wickets in their previous match.

They do not give up their wickets easily. Thomas was one of only three to fall yesterday. Adrian Dale had fallen in the morning just two short of his fifty and later Robert Croft smacked a useful 22 before being bowled by Ricky Anderson. Such was the most economical of the Essex bowlers, picking up 3 for 95 in more than 41 overs.

The way the Glamorgan bowlers then winkled out the Essex upper order late on suggested that, weather permitting (22 were lost in total yesterday), Essex will struggle to wipe out the 215-run deficit let alone salvage anything from this match.

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