Recent Match Report – Kent vs Glamorgan South Group 2021
Billings, Crawley return to action but wish they hadn’t, as Milnes exploits dreadful pitch
Kent 144 for 7 (Cox 32*) beat Glamorgan 104 (Milnes 5-22) by 40 runs
To play this T20 tie on the same day as Wales’ clash with Turkey was bad enough and would have been best avoided. To begin at the same time owed something to misfortune, forced upon Glamorgan by a malfunctioning scoreboard and the recognition that the previous match had finished in bad light. But also to contest it on a two-paced pitch of unreliable bounce – a different kind of turkey – did nothing to persuade those cricket lovers, or football haters, that they had made the right decision to turn up.
Instinct, though, is undermined by a lack of trust, especially when modern-day players expect T20 pitches to be true. Cricket pitches are natural and variable and, allowing for interesting and valid experiments with hybrid pitches, may that always remain the case. Neither does every game has to finish 200 v 200 – good bowlers deserve the chance to succeed. But this was not a match when skilful bowlers dominated, it was just a cricketing dirge in which the bowlers – any bowler – were bound to get lucky in the end.
Glamorgan are far from alone in occasionally producing indifferent surfaces: this is a general observation. The wider perspective is that the T20 Blast is struggling to assert its status in a summer when the Hundred is to be launched and every night of poor entertainment is a sword in its side. Produce these sorts of pitches when Welsh Fire is the name above the home dressing-room, and there will be a secretive ECB inquest. Call me cynical, but they’ve probably reserved the best pitches already.
Billings has netted and played head tennis in the Test bubble for the past few weeks, while loyally observing James Bracey take the gloves ahead of him. He has also had a couple of T20 matches for Kent, the side he captains, but all too rarely, and is due to join up with England’s T20I squad – also in Cardiff at the weekend – where he also may not play. Billings is 30, at the peak of athletic prowess, holding admirable ambitions, and has had three innings all summer. What an appalling waste of his talents this is. There has to be a better way.
This observation may have been made before.
Billings’ two successive sixes over midwicket against Andrew Salter (had Kiran Carlson been on the rope, he might have intervened) represented the most dominant batting minute of the night in a match containing 22 boundaries in 38 overs. His first slog-sweep was imperfectly timed, so Salter tossed up another one, as if for practice.
Labuschagne also took two intelligent wickets, having Jack Leaning caught at the wicket, cutting, and then tossing one up wide of off stump for Darren Stevens, who had timed a couple, to pick out deep cover.
Labuschagne will probably be regarded, statistically, as failing in the Blast for the first time this season but actually his 22 was the second top-score in Glamorgan’s reply, outdone only by some late-order slogging by James Weighell after Millnes had ripped the heart out of their innings. But at least Aaron Ramsey, 3,000 miles away in the Baku Olympic Stadium, made the night worthwhile for the hosts.
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps