Monday 28 July 2014 

Comment - Undervalued, Underrated Glamorgan

Glamorgan's coaching team
Glamorgan are enjoying a fine season even if they are slipping under most people's radar
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

Glamorgan are into their first T20 quarter-final in six years and have just comprehensively won their first two matches in the new 50-over Cup.

But you won’t hear much about this in the media, and this is not just due to traditional media’s increasingly poor coverage of county cricket.

Glamorgan simply aren’t seen as a fashionable county; stuck in division two of the county championship for the best part of decade, the Welsh side have seen their role as a prominent county disappear. This is despite recent strong performances in the limited overs competitions, including a Lord’s final as recently as last season.

So just why are Glamorgan seen as an unfashionable county?

Many casual cricket observers, and in truth, many avid watchers of the game, believe that the purpose of the county game is to serve the England national side and that the county game has no relevance beyond this.

If this statement is true, then you can see why Glamorgan may be seen as a weak relation. They have not supplied a regular England player since Simon Jones - as far back as 2005!

Glamorgan’s failure to produce England players over the last decade is due to both their own poor form in the longer form of the game and perhaps more to do with the ECB’s closed shop selection policy.

Players from certain counties are, put simply, less likely to be selected for England. I have championed Will Gidman of Gloucestershire throughout the last two seasons, but you could easily argue the case for a number of Glamorgan players.

Jim Allenby has been a sensational limited overs player over the past few seasons but has never even had so much as a Lions call up. He’s barely mentioned by the traditional media either.

However, England’s short sightedness and chummy selection policy has been Glamorgan’s gain - they have benefitted from regular contributions from Allenby, Mark Wallace and Dean Cosker amongst others.

The idea that the county game only lives to serve the national side has always wrangled with me. For starters, many people can only afford financially and logistically to see county cricket, therefore for many it will be the only professional cricket they see. These people would fight fiercely for the independence of the county game.

There are also the thousands of county members across the country to consider. While the image of the gnarled grumpy old county member does sometimes ring true, in my experience the vast majority of members are people who love the county game and want to see their county side win domestic competitions; they follow ‘Team England’ only casually.

In Glamorgan this opinion may be truer than elsewhere. Being the only county side outside of England leaves Glamorgan as a bit of an anomaly. The vast majority of the locals would not dream of supporting England in any sport except cricket, some wouldn’t even allow that, therefore their support for the county is tantamount to supporting Wales.

Robert Croft once famously said that playing for Glamorgan was akin to playing for Wales, with an England call up the equivalent of playing for the British and Irish Lions. This is how many local fans see it too.

With the lack of free to air cricket coverage, county fans have been forced to turn to Sky to watch live domestic cricket. Sky Sports' clear bias towards the south east, London and the more ‘fashionable’ counties has doubtless had an effect on Glamorgan’s reputation.

Glamorgan, excluding knockout matches, appear on Sky only twice this season compared to other counties who appear to be on almost every week. This has led to counties such as Glamorgan, Leicestershire and Derbyshire too, becoming forgotten sides.

The BBC must be commended for their decision to broadcast every ball of all domestic games on online radio, but this is not enough. While counties such as Essex and Middlesex enjoy regular coverage of their sides, Glamorgan are forced to fight for scraps and as such suffer from a lack of exposure on a national scale.

It’s not all doom and gloom however, as despite Glamorgan appearing to be an unfashionable and underrated county, their recent results, especially in limited overs matches, are extremely promising.

The ECB’s resistance to looking at Glamorgan players has led to a settled side for the T20 quarter-finalists. They have a nice blend of experience and youth, the top order composed of Allenby, Jacques Rudolph and Murray Goodwin have thousands of runs to fall back on and the temperament to lead title charges.

The youth comes from batsmen Chris Cooke and spin bowler Andrew Salter. Add in a couple of Glammy stalwarts in Cosker and Wallace and you’ve got the hallmarks of a solid side. When you bring the injured pace man Michael Reed back into the picture, it is not so difficult to see why Glamorgan are in contention for one-day honours.

They may be a perceived unfashionable county, but Glamorgan are a side on the up, both on and off the field. Improved performances on the pitch have tied in with the SWALEC stadium being awarded an Ashes Test next season as well as an ODI between England and India later this year.

Victory in one of the limited overs competitions may make one or two people stand up and take note of Glamorgan, not to mention the ECB, Sky and traditional media.

In a city where rugby is a religion and football is increasingly a major talking point, the cricket side is always fighting for exposure. It may just be Glamorgan’s time to surprise the traditional cricketing fraternity and gate crash T20 Finals day or a Lord’s final.

As Bumble tweeted earlier in the week, "keep your eye on Glamorgan…"

© Cricket World 2014