Not for the first time this season, Glamorgan have been indebted to their skills of South Africans Colin Ingram and Chris Cooke. Richard Thomas salutes their efforts but can’t help wishing they were the icing on the cake, rather than the main ingredients.
I’m not one to scan social media forensically, but one tweet sprang out from my iPhone over the weekend – a brief, digital missive from former Glamorgan player Mark Frost, hailing the success of All Stars Cricket in Wales.
Frosty, as he was known when he played for the Welsh county in the late 1980s and early 90s is now Community and Development Manager for Glamorgan and Cricket Wales. He devoted his 140 characters to hailing the success of the first weekend of the All Stars Cricket programme – an initiative from the ECB to get five to eight-year-olds into cricket.
“Over this weekend there has been a great sense of real excitement and joy as 1,600+ young people started on their journey in cricket in Wales,” wrote Frost.
This was rather poignant piece of social media, which had come quickly on the heels last week of Glamorgan announcing that the county had agreed one-year development deals with young Welsh duo, Connor Brown, an all-rounder from Caerphilly, and Jeremy Lawlor, a batsman from Cardiff.
I know there have been recent successes in developing some young Welsh talent – David Lloyd, Aneurin Donald and Andrew Salter to name but three – but maybe with the onset of All Stars and a successful development programme we will we be seeing a more consistent move to developing Welsh talent and not having to rely so heavily on a foreign legion.
It struck me early this week that Glamorgan’s valiant county championship draw against Nottinghamshire at Cardiff was masterminded by a couple of talented South Africans.
For all the world, it looked as though Division Two Nottinghamshire were about to seal a victory as easily manufactured as a raid by Robin Hood on the Sheriff of Nottingham’s coffers, when the young Boks – Colin Ingram and Chris Cooke – dug in.
The pair batted through the final day to amass a stand of 226 as the home side reached 420-5, 159 runs ahead of the visitors. Ingram’s marathon near 10-hour knock saw him reach a county-best 155 not out, while Cooke was unbeaten on 113.
All very honourable, but would it not have been all the more satisfying if the voices from Port Elizabeth and Cape Town had, instead, hailed from Port Talbot or Barry? Would Glamorgan not be in a healthier state for the long term if local talent was at the core of any success regularly on the cricket field?
It made me hanker for those days of Glamorgan’s glories in 1993 and 1997 – the Sunday League and County Championship title years respectively – when the backbone of the side was made up of the now long defunct Glamorgan Colts.
From the Colts came the likes of Hugh Morris, Steve James, Matthew Maynard, Tony Cottey, Adrian Dale, Robert Croft and Steve Watkin – a magnificent seven who were developed and nurtured and came out the other side as proper cricketers.
There are those who will suggest – quite rightly – that Glamorgan did need some overseas help in ’93 and ’97, through Viv Richards and Waqar Younis. But at least 90 per cent of the side was Welsh back then.
We may have to wait for another decade for the All Stars programme to reap some consistent Welsh talent, but, hopefully, the wait will be worth it.