Billy Root has been backed to make a major impact for Glamorgan this season as he bids to step out of the shadow of older brother Joe.
Root scored a century for the county on his debut in the drawn friendly against the students of Cardiff MCCU this week – a side picked from Cardiff Met, Cardiff University and the University of South Wales – to show an immediate claim to form.
With Glamorgan due to start their Specsavers County Championship season at home to Northants on Thursday, new captain Chris Cooke is hopeful Root can bring more strength to the side’s batting line-up.
“Billy has settled in well, it’s like he’s been with us for a couple of seasons, really,” said Cooke.
“He’s going to bring a different dynamic to the team. He’s obviously a great one-day player and also has got a lot to prove in four-day cricket.”
Root – who has moved from Nottinghamshire – and Australian Marnus Labuschagne have been drafted in to improve Glamorgan’s run-power, along with Charlie Hemphrey.
All three had time in the middle against the students as the Welsh county made their final preparations for the new campaign – a season that can only go on an upward curve after last season’s bottom placing in division two.
Labuschagne – whose surname is pronounced to rhyme with champagne – has been signed to add some fizz to the first half of the season, during which his fellow Australian Test star Shaun Marsh is required for national duty.
Labuschagne has also made the Test breakthrough with Australia, but with 81 runs in five Tests and nine wickets, his new skipper says there is a point to be made during the first half of the County Championship and the entire Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.
“Marnus is starting out his career and he’s got a point to prove,” adds Cooke. “He’s ambitious. I know he’s not a household name but I think he’s going to be really driven and hopefully that’ll rub off on everyone in the team.”
With Aneurin Donald having upped sticks and left for Hampshire, Cooke is part of a collective that have much to prove after last season’s disappointments and the sacking of former head coach Robert Croft.
The squad recently spent time in Spain for warm weather training and a pre-season game against Gloucestershire and with a new head coach – following Matthew Maynard’s return – plus Mark Wallace’s appointment as director of cricket, there is a sense of a fresh start at Sophia Gardens.
There are few bold predictions from the new captain, though, who has been at Glamorgan long enough to realise how far off the pace the county have slipped, apart from their more reliable T20 record.
“We don’t want to have too many goals – I think just to play better cricket.
“We’re obviously a good T20 side and we want to consolidate that, but in terms of the 50-over and four-day stuff, we just want to play better cricket and make it more enjoyable to the Glamorgan supporters.
“We want to get back to enjoying it and just worry about playing harder, tougher cricket and if we’re in a final or a promotion push at the end of the season, that’s a bonus.”
Cooke took over the captaincy from Michael Hogan and admits he will lean heavily on former skippers Maynard and Wallace as he gets to grips with the job.
“It’s a whole new challenge for me. It’s something that I’ll probably have to learn on the job with. Hopefully, that’ll bring the best out of my game and I can leave the club in a better position than when I took over.
“It’s going to be a challenge juggling the captaincy, batting and keeping but in terms of a view of the game, the keeper probably has the best, and I see that as a positive but it could be quite a challenge as well. Hopefully, I can lead from the front with the bat and set an example, I guess.
“Matthew Maynard and Mark Wallace have been great. They’re obviously legends of the club as well, and have got a lot of respect from the players.
“As keeper-batters, both of them, I can learn from them. I think we all see the game quite similarly. We’ve got a similar outlook on how the game should be played, and hopefully we’ll bring an attacking and positive spin on things.
“They’ve both settled in well, and it helps when you’re legends of the club and have got a lot of respect.”
Specsavers CC: Day 1 Glamorgan v Northamptonshire
Thursday 11 April 2019 11:00