Watkin covers himself in glory

BENSON AND HEDGES CUP: Morris leads charge as Glamorgan defy odds to reach quarter-finals Kent 208-9; Glamorgan 210-2
Click to follow
The Independent Online
When Glamorgan began their innings they knew they had to score 209 to win in a maximum of 38.4 overs to be certain of qualifying for the Benson and Hedges Cup quarter-finals. A more leisurely victory would have brought qualification only as long as Essex beat Somerset - which they did.

This mathematical confusion made Glamorgan's victory - scoring 210 for 2 in 32.4 overs, with six overs to spare as far as their first objective was concerned and with 17.2 overs in hand overall - all the more remarkable. Kent also go through to the next round by Somerset's default, as it were.

Steve Watkin produced a wonderful piece of seam bowling on a pitch which allowed a certain amount of movement early on. His 4 for 5 in 21 balls reduced Kent to 26 for 4 in the ninth over and set up the possibility of Glamorgan winning the match, and Group C with it. Not even Carl Hooper could substantially alter things after that and Watkin won the gold award.

This may seem tough luck on Hugh Morris, who led Glamorgan's batting charge with a superb exhibition of true strokeplay which brought him 136 not out, his third century in all cricket this season. If it had not been for Watkin, Morris might never have had the chance.

With Somerset reaching 250, Glamorgan realised they had to go for the harder of the two targets and they were given a perfect start by Morris and Steve James. Early on, scarcely an over went by without two fours being hit, and from lovely cricket shots too.

But they were undoubtedly helped by Kent's bowlers who were obsessed with pitching the ball up to two batsmen who are both excellent players off the front foot. They split the field with one peerless off drive after another against the four Kent seam bowlers.

To have kept these two quiet, they needed to bowl short of a length at the middle stump allowing the batsmen no width to cut. As it was, Morris and James gratefully helped themselves.

The 50 came up in the 10th over and at that stage the two Welshmen matched each other stroke for stroke. In the 11th over Matthew Fleming produced the only maiden of the innings, a notable achievement in itself. In the 13th Morris hit him for four fours and then raced away from James reaching his hundred in 68 balls.

Apart from all the exquisite driving, one other stroke stood out and that was played by James. In the 18th over he faced the left-arm spin of Min Patel and adjusted at the very last moment to a good length ball which, with quick wrists and reactions to match, he half rammed down and half cut to the third man boundary. It was a delicious moment.

They put on 181 for the first wicket in 26 overs before James turned Mark Ealham to square leg. Morris stayed to the end facing exactly 100 balls in all and hitting one six and 21 fours.

More reports, Scoreboard, page 22