Welsh pride is with Croft as Glamorgan raise the bar
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