Close of Play

Today has seen the last day’s play of the 2018 County Championship season, yet another sign that summer is over. This has happened very late this year. Indeed I wonder if this is the latest end to a County Championship season ever? Had the last round of matches started before the start of teaching term, I might have gone back to Cardiff for at least some of Glamorgan’s last match but the timing made that impossible.

Glamorgan actually won their last game of the season, yesterday, beating Leicestershire by 132 runs. That was a fairly comfortable victory, but Glamorgan made hard work of it given that Leicestershire were 102 for 8 in their second and managed to reach 270 all out. That was Glamorgan’s second win of the season, the first being their first match of the season, against Gloucestershire. In between these two they’ve endured a wretched season of 10 defeats – including several absolute thrashings – and two draws. It’s true that Glamorgan been unlucky, with injuries to key players, and others being called up for international duty, but it’s worrying that the others just haven’t been good enough to compete. Some young players haven’t come on at all, others seem to have gone backwards, and one (Aneurin Donald) left the club in mid-season. It’s hard not to point the finger and the coaches for this.

I hope Glamorgan have a better season next year. I won’t be renewing my membership, though, as I’ll be spending nearly all my time here in Ireland.

Their final result notwithstanding, Glamorgan are rooted firmly to the bottom of Division Two. The top two teams, promoted to Division One next year are Warwickshire and Kent. Relegated from Division One are Worcestershire and Lancashire. The latter finished level on points with Nottinghamshire, but were relegated because they had won fewer games. Lancashire won their last game, but failed to get enough bonus points in their first innings, collapsing from 273 for 7 to 273 all out. Had they made 300 they would have stayed up. C’est la vie.

The last game of the season to finish was a topsy-turvy affair featuring Surrey versus Essex, the end of which I followed this afternoon on a cricinfo tab while doing other stuff. Surrey had already been confirmed as champions before this last round of matches, and perhaps they were still hung over when they were dismissed for 67 in their first innings on Monday. Essex then declared on 477 for 8, looking set for a comprehensive victory. But Surrey showed their mettle and reached 541 in their second innings, but Essex still needed only 132 to win. In an exciting finish, they slumped to 124 for 9, but managed to win by one wicket.

It seems apt to mark the end of the County Championship with one of the classic cricket poems, Close of Play by Thomas Moult.

How shall we live, now that the summer’s ended,
And bat and ball (too soon!) are put aside,
And all our cricket deeds and dreams have blended ā€”
The hit for six, the champion bowled for none,
The match we planned to win and never won? …
Only in Green-winged memory they abide.

How shall we live, who love our loveliest game
With such bright ardour that when stumps are drawn
We talk into the twilight, always the same
Old talk with laughter round off each tale ā€”
Laughter of friends across a pint of ale
In the blue shade of the pavilion.

For the last time a batsman is out, the day
Like the drained glass and the dear sundown field
is empty; what instead of Summer’s play
Can occupy these darkling months ere spring
Hails willows once again the crowned king?
How shall we live so life may not be chilled?

Well, what’s a crimson hearth for, and the lamp
Of winter nights, and these plump yellow books
That cherish Wisden’s soul and bear his stamp ā€”
And bat and ball (too soon!) are put aside,
Time’s ever changing, unalterable score-board,
Thick-clustered with a thousand names adored:
Half the game’s magic in their very looks!

And when we’ve learnt those almanacs by heart,
And shared with Nyren … Cardus ….the distant thrill
That cannot fade since they have had their part,
We’ll trudge wet streets through fog and mire
And praise our heroes by the club-room fire:
O do not doubt the game will hold us still!

13 Responses to “Close of Play”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Had Lancashire made one more run against Somerset they would have won rather than tied; had they made 6 more runs against Surrey then they would have won rather than lost. Gah! No problem with the bowling points but too many batting collapses, and Lancs, having come second last season, renew their reputation gained in this decade as a yoyo team (hopefully yoyoing back next season). It is likely that Glamorgan will select them as opponents for the out-match at Colwyn Bay, and I shall be there. (Peter: it’s less than an hour from Holyhead by train!)

    There have been some cracking finishes to games late this season: the Somerset v Lancs tie, Derby winning against Northants by one wicket, and Essex (last season’s overwhelming champions) likewise against Surrey (this season’s) today, thereby depriving Surrey of their undefeated record and a world record for overhauling a first innings deficit.

    Somerset deserve the support of uncommitted spectators next season, as they are the only one of the three counties never to have won the championship who will be in the top division. Meanwhile, at the foot of Division 2, Glamorgan at least did better than Leicester, who came bottom and won not a single game in 2013 and 2014.

    • I forgot to mention the first tie in the County Championship since 2003..

      I’ll certainly plan to attend the match at Colywn Bay next August, whoever Glamorgan’s opponents are. It will give me the chance to try the ferry crossing, which I still have not yet done.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Given that there are 10 teams in Division 2 and each plays a total of 14 matches, not all teams play all others home and away, and it is not necessarily the case that Glamorgan will have a home fixture against Lancashire which they could farm out to Colwyn.

        How is it decided which pairs of teams play only one match and where that is?

      • I’ve often wondered that. I don’t know the answer. It’s also the case in the T20 groups that not all teams play each other twice.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The answer might be online somewhere but I couldn’t find it and I’ve emailed the ECB !

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        The ECB replied! As follows:

        The specific teams that are played twice and those just once is currently work in progress. However, fixtures will be generated in order that the aggregated strength of the teams played twice by each County (based on finishing positions in 2018) will be either the same or as equal as it can be.

      • I’m sure everyone will want to play Glamorgn twice, based on this year’s form, but only 5 out of 9 can do so.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    In Division 1 the number of batting bonus points varied from 16 to 41 but the bowling points had a much smaller range, from 33 to 40. The laws should be changed so as to yield a larger range.

  3. In T20 Middlesex and Kent are the teams Glamorgan play only once every season, this year it was Middlesex away and Kent at home. In the CC it won’t be the same teams every year because of promotion and relegation. I suppose Glam and Lancs could ask for a ‘home’ Glam game but I suspect it has to be done randomly. Of course, Lancs could adopt Colwyn Bay as a ‘home’ ground, as many Glam supporters moan that it is much nearer to Lancs than Glam anyway!

    • I don’t understand why this T20 arrangement is fixed. Surely it would be fairer to mix it up?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        It would not be hard to arrange a fair algorithm based on playing other teams from differing ‘heights’ in the previous year’s league. Perhaps it is fixed in the T20 to minimise travel? But although the M4 is long it is also fast…

      • I can only think that it means that there’s an equal number of home and away games against all teams (at least over an even number of years) which means equal sharing of revenues, which is probably quite important in T20 (and rather less so in the 4 day game).
        Glamorgan still have 4 trips up and down the length of the M4 during a T20 season, so must be one of the most travelled teams.

  4. Oh and just as Colwyn Bay is far from Glamorgan, the Colwyn Bay ground is not in Colwyn Bay, but in Rhos-on-Sea, a 30 minute walk from Colwyn Bay station (though a very pleasant one, along the seafront!)

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