By Alun Rhys Chivers at Edgbaston
Jacques Rudolph bowed out of one-day cricket insisting Glamorgan can be proud of their efforts despite an agonising defeat to Birmingham Bears at T20 Finals day on Saturday.
Even though the county’s skipper – who retires at the end of the season – scored a classy 65, Glamorgan lost their thrilling NatWest T20 Blast semi-final by just 11 runs.
Andrew Salter’s brave 27 from 13 as Glamorgan’s hopes were fading wasn’t quite enough after a constant flurry of wickets had hampered the Welshmen’s progress.
South African Rudolph, 36, said: “I’ve enjoyed it, I think I’ve had quite a good career.
“I was quite emotional when I walked off there to be dead honest. But from a team perspective we can be really proud of the way our campaign has gone, the way we’ve played our cricket.
“We’re not blessed with a massive squad, we’ve only got a small group of players to work with, but we’ve shown a lot of character this year, and I think looking past the season into the future there’s some really exciting young Welsh talent.
“If the club can get the mix between more experienced players for them to learn from, there’s going to be some big players for Glamorgan.”
Chris Woakes took 3-40, and Ollie Stone claimed 3-29 as the Glamorgan batsmen tumbled one by one.
Rudolph added: “At one stage I thought we were going to chase a lot over 200. Colin Ingram and Craig Meschede really did a good job getting us back into the game but I think it was always going to be difficult losing all those early wickets, to try and get some sort of momentum.
“Even when I was batting with Waggy, we said try and take it as deep as possible, and I think in that last over we showed we were still in with a chance. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.”
Rudolph was the victim of a sharp run out by the Bears’ young fast bowler Aaron Thomason, just as he appeared capable of steering his team to an unlikely victory.
He admitted: “Ten years ago I would have turned around a little bit quicker. But fair play to Warwickshire (Birmingham), especially young Pollock, who was exceptional. He’s got a big career ahead of him. It just wasn’t our day.”
Having put the Bears in to bat, Ed Pollock went on the attack from the outset, striking five fours and four sixes as he reached a half-century from just 23 balls as the Bears reached 65-1 after the powerplay.
But Glamorgan claimed a second wicket in the seventh over when Adam Hose drove at Aneurin Donald at mid-wicket from Craig Meschede’s bowling at 68-2. Dominic Sibley followed in the 10th over when he pulled to David Miller off leg-spinner Colin Ingram for 27, his side on 83-3 at the halfway stage.
Glamorgan piled the pressure on as Craig Meschede struck Sam Hain in front for nine, and the Bears were 93-4 in the 11th over as the bowler finished with 2-24 from his allotted four overs.
Grant Elliott and Colin de Grandhomme threatened carnage when they came together, adding 46 for the fifth wicket before Elliott scooped to Meschede off Michael Hogan for 32, with the Bears on 139-5 after 16 overs.
De Grandhomme found Donald on the boundary off de Lange in the 19th over with the ‘home’ side under pressure once again late on in the innings at 164-6.
But that was just the beginning of the excitement as Glamorgan claimed three wickets from the last three balls of the innings.
Aaron Thomason was run out by David Miller for 17 before Jeetan Patel was caught by the same fielder off Hogan from the penultimate delivery. The innings came to an end when Chris Woakes was impressively run out by Andrew Salter as the Bears finished on 175-9.
Chasing 176 to win, it took just four balls before Glamorgan lost their first wicket when Aneurin Donald pulled to Sam Hain off Chris Woakes’ bowling, as the Welshmen reached 13-1 after one over.
They were 31-2 when Colin Ingram found Grant Elliott in the deep off Ollie Stone. David Miller was caught by keeper Tim Ambrose off Aaron Thomason without scoring.
Glamorgan slumped further when Kiran Carlson was caught by Ambrose off Stone for there, Glamorgan ending the powerplay on 48-4.
The pressure told further on Glamorgan when they lost a fifth wicket in the ninth over when Chris Cooke was caught by Dominic Sibley off Grant Elliott for 10 attempting a leg-side flick at 67-5.
Rudolph reached his half-century from 30 balls having struck seven fours and a six, and the Welshmen were 76-5 after 11 overs. He’d given Glamorgan a glimmer of hope in a partnership with former Bears all-rounder Graham Wagg, and the equation was 64 from six overs.
Rudolph was run out in bizarre fashion when he wandered out of his crease backing up and couldn’t turn quickly enough to get back to safety at 117-6. And Wagg followed when he played to Grant Elliott on the leg-side off Woakes for 23, with Glamorgan on 120-7.
The eighth wicket fell when Meschede found Sam Hain on the straight drive off Aaron Thomason and Glamorgan were 127-8.
That quickly became 150-9 when Marchant de Lange was bowled by Stone. But it wasn’t quite all over, even at that stage. 26 were required from the final six deliveries, and Andrew Salter did all he could with a quickfire 27 from 13 balls but it wasn’t ultimately enough when he was caught on the boundary by Sam Hain off Chris Woakes, just inches short of keeping the assault going.