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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Glamorgan South Group 2021

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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

If you are going to directly clash a Glamorgan T20 Blast tie with a Wales match in the European Championship, then at least reward those who turn up with a decent pitch. Instead, the surface at Sophia Gardens was roguish and the loudest cheers of the night, which sounded from the crowd when Wales secured a 2-0 win against Turkey, suggested that many thoughts had strayed elsewhere.
This was a dreadful match. Kent scrambled to 144 for 7 with a series of batsmen persistently mistiming shots and, upon their dismissal – the shot that mattered most – some batsmen, to various degrees, allowed themselves an aggrieved look. Predictably, this mediocre total proved to be of gargantuan proportions as Glamorgan made 104 with Matt Milnes working up a decent head of steam to take 5 for 22. Kent now have four wins in five and will be relieved to move on, their position in the top four of South Group strengthened.
Milnes’ five wickets included three excellent top-order scalps, incuding two overseas players. David Lloyd pulled him to deep square leg and there were two return catches – Marnus Labuschagne failing to loft over the head (cue intense shot practice on the way back to the pavilion) and Colin Ingram, a little cramped on a pull shot, contriving to send it back in his direction. Even at 59 for 4, at halfway, the outcome felt predictable.

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.

Matthew Maynard, Glamorgan’s coach, proferred: “It was a difficult wicket to bat on – both teams found that”, before adding: “You have to play on instinct in T20 cricket and that instinct was maybe a little bit off today.”

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.

Kent fielded two players who had been freed from England duty – and both were ill-served by this match, as was another player of recent England vintage, Joe Denly, whose frantic innings suggested he was spooked by the whole thing.
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