Anyone who has followed Glamorgan over recent seasons would have recognised the sinking feeling brought on by their brutal defeat in the opening match of the season. Dai Sport cricket columnist Richard Thomas has witnessed a few over the years, but salutes those still keeping the faith.
In a town that was once the centre of the footwear industry Glamorgan got the cricket equivalent of a good shoeing as their County Championship season got off to a typically unimpressive beginning.
After being beaten by Northamptonshire at the County Ground in Northampton inside two days, it has given coach Robert Croft much to ponder ahead of Worcestershire’s Division Two visit to Cardiff this week.
As ever Croft was as honest as he could be after the innings and 22-run defeat. “It wasn’t the performance we’d hoped for. It was disappointing in a number of areas, I won’t lie,” he said.
There was not much more he could say after the contest was all but over during the opening two sessions which saw Glamorgan skittled for 101 in their first innings. It didn’t get much better second time round as they made 187. The only consolation: three bowling points.
But just as empty as Glamorgan’s performance must have been the feeling Croft had going into the season – for the first time in 20 years he did not have any of his fellow Championship-winning veterans sitting alongside him in the Glamorgan dressing room.
Because out of the side that sealed the Championship at Taunton in 1997 the final survivor – Dean Cosker – hung up his bowling boots at the end of last season.
He was the last playing connection to a team that went into Welsh cricket folklore on that September afternoon.
That team of the late ‘90s – armed with Waqar Younis, Matthew Maynard, Hugh Morris, Croft and Steve Watkin – used to do to other sides what Glamorgan suffered at the hands of Northants last week; they used to put the boot in (and to Northamptonshire, for that matter).
Glamorgan fans will remember with sepia-coloured fondness the Waqar-inspired demolition of Lancashire in Liverpool, and Sussex and Gloucestershire at St Helen’s. And most famously was the way Maynard’s men unfurled the county’s first Championship pennant for 29 years with a win inside three days against the Cidermen.
Back then, those who were planning to head down to Somerset on the Sunday spectacularly misjudged the efficient, entertaining and ultimately winning cricket Glamorgan under coach Duncan Fletcher were capable of playing.
So, that was nearly 20 years ago when many of the current crop of Glamorgan players probably hadn’t even picked up a plastic bat.
But of course, ultimately it was cricket of a different era – T20 was still a twinkle in some sports promotion man’s eye and it was cricket of a time when the players milled in the bar with opposition members, umpires and even the gentlemen of the Press.
Nowadays, the bar is often empty and little or no-one in the Press Box or the ground for that matter. It is all rather depressing and those that still bravely keep the faith will be hoping it is not another one of those long summers that meander to abject failure.
If these current results continue this column will be forced to recall some more of those memories of ’97, which will probably be no bad thing.
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