Bob Willis Trophy
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Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

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Match Report: Glamorgan v Warwickshire, Bob Willis Trophy

Day Four

Glamorgan battled bravely to a draw in their final Bob Willis Trophy match of the campaign, as Warwickshire’s Ian Bell brought down the curtain on his 20-year first-class career at Sophia Gardens.

Bell’s final contributions yielded 140 runs for the county he’s served so well, and he was given an ovation by both teams, umpires and coaching staff as he left the field for the final time.

Resuming their pursuit of 331 on 9-0 on the final morning, Glamorgan were 69-2 at lunch and much credit goes to Nick Selman in the afternoon for his defiant innings of 73 as he battled hard to save the match.

The final’s day play would also prove to be a big test of character for Glamorgan’s Joe Cooke, in only his second first-class county red ball match, as it quickly became evident that Glamorgan would employ a rear-guard action.

Alongside Selman, the 23 year-old left-hander took control to successfully see off Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Liam Norwell in the opening exchanges, with the best shot of the morning coming from an off-drive to the boundary.

However, having batted defensively and patiently in the first hour, Glamorgan lost two wickets from successive Ryan Sidebottom deliveries, when Cooke edged tentatively to the keeper before Owen Morgan was bowled by an in-swinging full-toss.

The Welsh county’s defensive approach, having effectively given up the pursuit of 331, backfired after lunch as captain Chris Cooke, attempting a back-foot drive through the off-side, feathered to the keeper off Oliver Hannon-Dalby. 

It was to prove a decisive six overs in the match, as the momentum swung in the visitors’ favour, despite Nick Selman battling hard to a half-century in 146 deliveries. 

As Billy Root played the waiting game early in his innings, getting off the mark from his eleventh delivery and glancing his first boundary off his legs two deliveries later, the fourteenth he faced beat him all ends up, flying off the edge into the hands of Sam Hain at second slip.

Selman, unbeaten on 62, and Callum Taylor, 14 not out, saw the Welsh county through to tea, and they needed a further 187 in the final session, with the visitors requiring a further six wickets.

They moved at a pedestrian pace in the final session, offering little in the way of chances before Taylor fended an uppish delivery by Ryan Sidebottom to short-leg after 29 overs at the crease and a partnership of 67.

The visitors had their biggest breakthrough when Hannon-Dalby struck Selman leg-before for 73, the batsman’s valiant effort ended after 215 deliveries when he was struck suspiciously high on the leg, and Glamorgan’s lower order still had 18.5 overs to bat out.

There was little doubt about Cullen’s dismissal, though, as he was dismissed in similar fashion by spinner Alex Thomson for his first wicket of the match. Douthwaite followed soon after, edging a rising delivery from Sidebottom to the keeper.

The visitors edged closer to a victory when Lukas Carey edged Hannon-Dalby to slip, but Michael Hogan and Timm van der Gugten survived the final three overs.

Warwickshire finish the campaign in third place in the group, while Glamorgan are rooted firmly to the bottom. The visitors’ attention now turns to the Vitality Blast where they host Glamorgan at Edgbaston on Friday night.

Day Three

Ian Bell delivered one last exhibition of exquisite strokeplay as Warwickshire moved into a strong position against Glamorgan on the third day of their Bob Willis Trophy match at Sophia Gardens.

In his 523rd, and last, innings in first class cricket, Bears and England legend Bell batted beautifully in damp, claggy conditions for 90 from 148 balls with 12 fours. Had a tweaked groin not restricted his running, he would certainly have reached the valedictory century which would have provided the perfect conclusion to his great career.

Still, his fluent 90 underpinned a meaty total of 347 for seven declared which set the home side a testing 331 to win. Glamorgan reached nine without loss in five overs before the close.

Bell’s innings, including some typically glorious off-side boundaries, was a final reminder of the batting artistry which has graced the world’s cricket grounds since 1999. He added 143 in 41 overs with Sam Hain who scored a polished 65 (136 balls, nine fours) and passed 4,000 first-class runs in the process. 

Then, in the final session, Dan Mousley underlined his immense potential with a stylish maiden half-century; 71 from 87 balls with nine fours.

Warwickshire began their second innings, trailing by 17 on first, at start of play and took just 20 balls to erase the deficit. A luscious straight-driven four from captain Will Rhodes took his side in front but, in the next over, Rob Yates edged Timm van der Gugten to second slip.

Rhodes’ attractive 30 (50 balls, four fours) was terminated by an edge into the cordon off Michael Hogan but Hain and Bell calmly negotiated the rest of an awkward morning session, much of which took place in flurries of gusty drizzle.

Batting became a little more comfortable in the afternoon when the third-wicket pair blended vigilant defence with delightful strokes. Bell was first to his half century, from 63 balls. Hain followed to his from 106 but then edged Dan Douthwaite to the wicketkeeper.

Bell batted with typical fluency despite his injury and was closing in on the most popular of centuries, but Van der Gugten pooped the party.  From the first ball of a new spell from the paceman, Bell was cramped on a cut and played on.

Appropriately, there at the other end when Bell departed, was Mousley. As one hugely-talented home-grown Bears batsman leaves the cricket stage, another is taking his first steps upon it and 19-year-old Mousley batted with a flair and confidence which evoked memories of a 19-year-old Bell.

Michael Burgess edged spinner Owen Morgan to the keeper, but Mousley flowed to a 62-ball half-century in a stand of 80 in 21 overs with Alex Thomson (36, 62 balls, four fours, one six). Ethan Brookes kept up the impetus with an enterprising run-a-ball unbeaten 15 before Liam Norwell lifted Morgan into the river to trigger the declaration.

Norwell was very close to breaking through in the day’s closing overs, having two huge lbw shouts turned down.

Day Two

Liam Norwell, Will Rhodes and Ryan Sidebottom shared the wickets as Warwickshire’s bowlers made Glamorgan work hard for runs on the second day of the  Bob Willis Trophy match in Cardiff.

Replying to the Bears’ 186, the home side were bowled out for 203, 17 ahead, just before the close.

Norwell, playing his first first-class match for over a year, took four for 43 while Rhodes finished with four for 46 and Sidebottom hit the stumps twice to end with two for 48.

The attack’s linchpin Olly Hannon-Dalby was, for once, not among the wickets but he played a significant part in his team-mates’ success with 22 overs in which he frequently beat the bat and built pressure on the batsmen.

At the halfway stage, the match is delicately poised on a pitch which has been difficult for batting and looks likely to remain so.

After Glamorgan resumed on the second morning on four for one, Norwell quickly struck twice as Joe Cooke and Timm van der Gugten edged to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess.

Owen Morgan and Chris Cooke got their heads down to add 53 in 15 overs.  Hannon-Dalby was guilty of bowling several deliveries that were “too good”, beating the edge by a long way, as the fourth-wicket pair gritted out a half-century stand.

They were parted when skipper Rhodes switched himself to the River End and shaped one away from Cooke to supply Burgess’s third catch of the morning. Rhodes then ended Morgan’s defiance at 28 (67 balls) when he smuggled one through his defence on to his stumps just before lunch.

Glamorgan were 91 for five at lunch and, after rain wiped out the afternoon session, Norwell collected his fourth wicket of the innings when Callum Taylor sliced hard to Ian Bell at second slip.

Billy Root (51 not out, 100 balls, six fours, one six) dug in to play an important role for his team but Sidebottom rearranged the furniture of Dan Douthwaite and Tom Cullen, the latter in spectacular style as the middle stump was sent flying.

Root and Lukas Carey added 31 to take their side narrowly in front before Rhodes brought himself back into the attack and bowled Carey third ball back. The captain added his fourth wicket when Michael Hogan chipped to Hannon-Dalby at mid on.

Day One

Ian Bell displayed the high class that has adorned English cricket for a generation with a skilful half-century in difficult batting conditions on the opening day of Warwickshire’s Bob Willis Trophy match against Glamorgan.

In his final first-class appearance, the day after announcing that he will retire at the end of the season, Bears legend Bell top-scored with 50 (116 balls, nine fours), out of his side’s 186 all out on a rain-affected day. Glamorgan reached four for one from eight testing overs from Olly Hannon-Dalby and Liam Norwell before the close.

Bell’s knock was one of considerable skill on a pitch which offered extravagant lateral movement after the Bears were put in. He reached the crease with the innings already wobbling at 17 for two after Timm Van der Gugten bowled Will Rhodes and had trapped Sam Hain lbw. That soon became 23 for three in the tenth over when Rob Yates edged Lukas Carey behind.

The conditions provided a serious test of technique but Bell and Dan Mousley dealt with them capably to add 70 in 22 overs before Mousley, having underlined his immense potential with 33 from 67 balls with four fours, fell lbw to Carey.

Carey’s third wicket arrived when Michael Burgess sliced an attempted drive to second slip.

Bell then reached 50 for the 161st time in first-class cricket, after which a long rain break arrived. He fell soon after the resumption when he edged a big outswinger from Dan Douthwaite to wicketkeeper Tom Cullen.

The persistent Glamorgan seamers induced fatal edges from Alex Thomson, Ethan Brookes and Norwell to leave the Bears 154 for nine. Last pair Hannon-Dalby and Ryan Sidebottom added a defiant 32 but were no doubt looking forward to bowling much more than batting in such seamer-friendly conditions.

Norwell soon struck when Glamorgan replied, forcing Nick Selman to edge to second slip where Bell took a sharp, low catch.

Match Preview: Glamorgan v Warwickshire, Bob Willis Trophy

Olly Hannon-Dalby is looking forward to breaking new ground when he leads Warwickshire’s bowling attack against Glamorgan in Cardiff in the Bob Willis Trophy tomorrow.

It will be the seamer’s 75th first class match but his first in Wales as he adds Sophia Gardens to a career list of venues which began with The Oval, with his Yorkshire debut, and continued at Edgbaston, where he took five for 68 against the Bears in his second match for the White Rose, in 2010.

“I’ve never played a four-day game in Wales and am really looking forward to it,” said Hannon-Dalby. “I was twelfth man when we played at Colwyn Bay a couple of years ago and that was a lovely place and a fantastic week, but it will be great to play in Cardiff.

“The other week was my first four-day game at Worcester. It was a shame the pitch was so placid, but it was lovely to play a first class game there. It’s always good to break new ground. Sophia Gardens is a great ground and hopefully we can get down here and round off our Bob Willis Trophy campaign with a win.”   

The Bears go into their final Bob Willis Trophy game placed third in the group table but unable to qualify after a disappointing, rain-affected campaign which has brought a defeat and three draws.

“It hasn’t gone the way we wanted it but I think, because it is a shortened season, things seem a bit magnified,” Hannon-Dalby said. “If it was a normal, 14-game season, there would still be loads of cricket to play and we would be looking to really push on.

“We started off with two great days against Northamptonshire but then didn’t finish them off and maybe that affected our confidence a little bit. The Gloucestershire game was a scrap and credit to them, they came out on top.

“Then we competed well at Worcester and it was a shame the last day was washed out. Against Somerset, we got away with one. They were very impressive, especially with the ball, and the rain saved us.

“We are just in little period when we are losing some big personnel. Tim Ambrose and Jeetan Patel have been a massive part of our team for many years and we have got to work out how to win games of four-day cricket without them. We’ll get there because we’ve got some very good cricketers and really good young players coming through.”

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