Welsh pride is with Croft as Glam­or­gan raise the bar

The Cricket Paper - - PREVIEW - By Char­lie Peat

GLAM­OR­GAN’S qual­i­fi­ca­tion from the T20 Blast South Group is a ma­jor step for­ward for the club, ac­cord­ing to head coach Robert Croft.

The Welsh side have al­ready booked their place in the quar­ter-fi­nals as the South group heads to a dra­matic cli­max this evening, with al­most ev­ery other team vy­ing for a top-four spot.

But with Glam­or­gan’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion se­cured be­fore their fi­nal match against Mid­dle­sex, Croft is un­der­stand­ably thrilled at how the Welsh county have equipped them­selves – es­pe­cially away from home.

“When you look at the ta­ble and see how the odd point sep­a­rates the other coun­ties it re­ally has been a marathon cam­paign in ev­ery sense,” the 47-year-old said.

“With so many games washed out at home, I have been de­lighted with our per­for­mances on the road, and also how we dealt with the frus­tra­tion af­ter the heavy de­feat against Hamp­shire last week.

“I am de­lighted we have qual­i­fied for the quar­ter­fi­nals, but the only game on our mind this week is the one the one against Mid­dle­sex where suc­cess will guar­an­tee us a home draw in the last eight. They showed against Glouces­ter­shire this week that they are a pow­er­ful side and as they can also qual­ify for the last-eight, we are ex­pect­ing a tough en­counter”.

Mid­dle­sex, how­ever, must win to give them­selves a chance of qual­i­fi­ca­tion at the SWALEC Sta­dium and cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan will be look­ing to Steven Finn to in­spire his side.

Finn took 4-26 in the county’s vic­tory over Glouces­ter­shire to keep their hopes alive and Mor­gan be­lieves the pace bowler is vi­tal to their suc­cess.

He said: “Finn is cru­cial to us. It’s not easy for him be­ing called up for Tests, not play­ing and hav­ing to come back and pro­duce a dif­fer­ent skillset.

“We’ve had a cou­ple of con­sec­u­tive games now where he’s not been called up and it’s al­lowed him to fo­cus on what he’s do­ing well.”

And Mid­dle­sex will need their Eng­land ace to be fir­ing on all cylin­ders as they look to end a run of six straight de­feats against Glam­or­gan.

Else­where, Sus­sex Sharks will be with­out their cap­tain Ross Tay­lor for their fi­nal group match against Es­sex Ea­gles af­ter he flew home to New Zealand for fam­ily rea­sons.

Club cap­tain Ben Brown will take charge of the team dur­ing their fi­nal match in the South Group this evening.

The news comes as a set­back to the Sharks, who have lost five of their last seven home matches to the Ea­gles.

Head coach Mark Davis said: “It’s a blow to us to lose Ross. How­ever, that gives some­body else an op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent the club in a very im­por­tant game on Fri­day night.We wish Ross and his fam­ily all the best.”

Es­sex wick­et­keeper James Fos­ter is an­tic­i­pat­ing a dra­matic con­clu­sion to the cam­paign as they look to wrap up qual­i­fi­ca­tion for them­selves at Hove.

“Ev­ery­one’s beat­ing ev­ery­one else,” said the vet­eran. “It’s one of those for­mats where, on the day, if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game you can be ex­posed.

Hamp­shire wel­come Som­er­set to the Ageas Bowl in their fi­nal match of the group stage, with both teams hav­ing it all to play for.

And the home side will be hop­ing to repli­cate their re­cent suc­cess against Som­er­set in Southampton, hav­ing won four of their past five meet­ings against the county.

Mean­while, Kent Spit­fires host Sur­rey with the vis­i­tors look­ing to im­prove on their wretched away form, win­ning just one of their last nine.

The Spit­fires, mean­while, have won five of their last six matches played against Sur­rey in­clud­ing an eightwicket vic­tory last time out at the Kia Oval.

Pride: Robert Croft

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