Glamorgan made a bold effort at T20 glory at Edgbaston last weekend, but were undone by a county with a home-built core. Richard Thomas wonders how long it might be before Glamorgan’s own team is once again constructed on a true Welsh foundation.
One of the more poignant sights at Don Shepherd’s extremely well-attended funeral in Mumbles last week was that of Matthew Maynard sporting his Glamorgan club blazer and tie.
Now director of cricket at Somerset, where he has been for the past three years, and not having been on the Glamorgan payroll since 2005, this was a great touch from the former club captain and coach.
There were other former Glamorgan players wearing the daffodil on their breast pocket but most were from an era when one-club service was commonplace.
It was a gesture that did not go un-noticed from many in the 500-plus congregation who packed into All Saints Church and a gesture that legendary bowler Shepherd himself would have acknowledged in these days where club loyalty from players is becoming a rarer quality across the sporting spectrum. And certainly, within the world of T20 cricket where the money on offer in a series of competitions around the globe, especially in India, creeps up towards football proportions.
It’s a much-visited problem and one that this Dai Sport column dipped its toe into earlier in the season. And it’s one that will not go away – the purists won’t let it.
The day following Shepherd’s funeral a Glamorgan side took the field in the NatWest T20 Blast finals day. The nationalities within the Welsh county’s team read – in batting order: South African, Welsh, South African, South African, Welsh, South African, English, South African, Welsh, South African, Australian.
We must take nothing away from the side’s achievement in reaching the finals day (the first time a Glamorgan side had been there for more than a decade) and the good day out at Edgbaston they had presented their supporters. But the dominant flower in the Glamorgan dressing room was more protea than daffodil.
But in the semi-final they lost to a Birmingham side made up of mainly Englishmen with coach Ashley Giles having introduced some very young shavers in the top four and two English bowlers – Chris Woakes and Olly Stone – who claimed six Glamorgan wickets between them.
Glamorgan do have to find a way to follow suit and some of the work in ensuring the county retains a Welsh identity is a work in process.
At least Aneurin Donald, Andrew Salter and Kiran Carlson (aged 20, 24, and 19 respectively) have broken into the side but we are still a far cry away from the ’97 County Championship-title-winning side which was, save for Waqar Younis, all but Welsh.
When Hugh Morris, part of that side 20 years ago, was appointed Glamorgan CEO four years ago, his mantra was of creating a county side with a Welsh identity. Perhaps that was more pipe dream than reality in the short term as the pressure of delivering success took hold.
But let’s hope some more Welsh talent comes through the system soon.