Glamorgan's true grit

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The Independent Online
reports from Cardiff

Glamorgan 242-9 Middlesex 176 Glamorgan win by 66 runs

Len Smith is not a name that springs to mind with the immediate renown of Steve Rouse or Peter Marron, but the Sophia Gardens groundsman did Glamorgan cricket a magnificent service here by giving them a pitch that left mighty Middlesex gasping and floundering.

At 16 for 4, off 14 overs in this NatWest quarter-final yesterday, they were in danger of succumbing below their previous lowest score, 41 against Essex at Westcliff in 1972, but John Carr's application and Glamorgan's easing of the pressure saved them from that ignominy. They were on the brink of defeat, needing 90 from 12.2 overs with two wickets remaining, when a thunderstorm delayed the finale.

It would be a gross slander to suggest Middlesex lost because the pitch was the flattest piece of turf between Wimbledon and Kansas for Glamorgan's innings, and was buckled and twisted when the Glamorgan seamers took the new ball, but there is no argument that there was a variation in the bounce from early afternoon.

Hugh Morris must have prayed Mike Gatting would insert Glamorgan. In fact Morris won and Glamorgan duly set off in temperatures that would not have disgraced Madras. Not until Richard Johnson appeared did Middlesex hopes rise. Steve James thrived but Morris was introspective, and he became Johnson's first victim, top-edging a pull. A bigger blow followed in the next over when Matthew Maynard cut Johnson furiously only to see Mark Ramprakash, at square cover, hold the catch at ankle level.

When James went attempting to sweep John Emburey immediately before lunch, and Tony Cottey was run out immediately afterwards leaving Glamorgan at 117 for 4 off 37 overs, Middlesex seemed to have the match won. Even when the late middle and tail managed to raise another 125, the total looked well within Middlesex's reach.

It was, until they batted. In the fifth over, Steve Watkin made a ball lift higher and quicker than any before and Paul Weekes was well taken by the only slip. In the fourth ball of the same over, Ramprakash advanced to run the ball off his legs, found it had kept low and was trapped. Seven overs and seven runs later Gatting, looking far from pleased, was leg before to Hamesh Anthony.

Two good catches by Colin Metson removed Jason Pooley and Keith Brown and Middlesex owed their scant respectability almost entirely to Carr, who had to wait until Johnson arrived before he found an acceptable partner. Morris could have finished the contest much sooner had he chosen to recall Watkin and Anthony, but like any good Welshmen he probably wanted to savour this triumph.