Glamorgan: Welsh county seek big four-day improvement

Glamorgan players celebrate a wicket during the pre-season fixture against Cardiff MCCU
Glamorgan finished eighth in Division Two of the County Championship in 2016

Glamorgan coach Robert Croft says they can take heart from Gloucestershire and Northants' recent trophy wins, as they aim to end 13 years without a trophy.

Northants' two T20 titles in 2013 and 2016 and Gloucestershire's One-Day Cup win in 2015 have shown big budgets are not always essential for silverware.

"When you see those sides winning trophies, it gives you optimism," former England bowler Croft said.

Croft is reluctant to single out any particular title as a target, however.

Former all-rounder, who won both four-day and one-day honours as a player, is reluctant to single out any particular competition as a target in 2017.

The former all-rounder, who won both four-day and one-day honours as a player continued: "In 1997, a lot of us thought we'd do well in one-day cricket, and we won the Championship. I've sat in dressing rooms when we thought we'd do well in four-day cricket and we've won one-day competitions [in 2002 and 2004].

Hugh Morris and Robert Croft
Hugh Morris and Robert Croft were members of Glamorgan's 1997 County Championship winning side

"My attitude to putting a team in the field is that whatever form of the game we're playing in, we go out to win it. You find that as you go along in the season, your path is found, which form of the game you do better in."

Ins and Outs

Quick bowler Marchant de Lange has been on Glamorgan's radar for several months, though confirming the deal has dragged on, but there is unlikely to be another overseas player for the T20 Blast.

Meanwhile it seems the end of an era with the departure of Glamorgan stalwarts Mark Wallace and Dean Cosker to the Professional Cricketers' Association and the ECB, after 18 and 21 years' service respectively.

Former Northants opener James Kettleborough was also released after a two-year contract.

'Be ruthless'

South African fast bowler de Lange, whom the county hope to capture before the season starts, would be their only new signing for 2017.

Glamorgan chief executive Hugh Morris says he expects the county to be "much better" in the Championship and competitive in limited-overs cricket in 2017, despite their lack of new faces and a reliance on home-grown talent flourishing.

"We're looking for a big improvement in red-ball cricket" Morris told BBC Wales Sport.

Glamorgan's inconsistent 2016
County ChampionshipEighth in Division Two.
One-Day CupThree group wins followed by four straight defeats.
T20 BlastSecond in group stage, home quarter-final defeat by Yorkshire.

"We won three games [in the Championship] and we should have won six. When we get into positions to win games, we've got to be more ruthless.

"I'm expecting us to continue to be competitive in white-ball cricket, we've got to the [T20 Blast] knock-out stages and we're pretty well set up in that competition."

Morris hopes that a return to form for captain Jacques Rudolph, and a return to fitness for Chris Cooke, together with Colin Ingram being available across all formats after a knee operation, will make a key difference.

"We'll have a lot more fire-power in the batting department than we had for most of last season" he declared.

Breakthrough time?

Teenage batsman Kiran Carlson and seamer Lukas Carey were both handed unexpected chances in 2016, and will be looking to build their careers this year- though they would do well to become first-team regulars.

Aneurin Donald
Batsman Aneurin Donald has represented England at Under-19 level

Of the slightly older players, the likes of Aneurin Donald and David Lloyd played spectacular innings on occasion, but now need to turn those efforts into a consistent run-scoring record through the season.

"I bottled it a little bit last year, I had some opportunities to kick on" admitted Donald, who fell just short of a thousand first-class runs despite his majestic 234 against Derbyshire at Colwyn Bay.

"It's about making more first-class hundreds, and that thousand is always going to be the target, and I'm really looking forward to the T20 Blast and trying to make a name for myself with a few big ones."

Fitness questions

Colin Ingram will hope to spread his batting magic across all competitions after being restricted to an admittedly stellar one-day season in 2016, while Cooke's back will have to stand up to the rigour of keeping wicket regularly.

If Ingram, Cooke, and Rudolph are regularly in the runs, there will be plenty to build on.

But pre-season injuries to Will Bragg, Graham Wagg and 2016 star discovery Timm van der Gugten show the importance of keeping the front-line players off the treatment table.

Jacques Rudolph
South African batsman Jacques Rudolph was appointed Glamorgan captain in December 2014

"To have Colin and Chris back in the mix as senior batters will just bolster that middle order, and if we can have Marchant, Hoges (Michael Hogan), Timm, Waggy, Mesch (Craig Meschede) fighting for three or four places that would be the ideal situation" said captain Jacques Rudolph.

"Last season I was confident we could push for [Championship] promotion, but the first three or four games we struggled, and that put us on the back foot, so the key will be to start really well."

Glamorgan start their Championship campaign at Northants on Friday 7 April, with three four-day games before the One-Day Cup is played in a block of eight 50-overs matches.

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