For the second match in a row, the boy Donald may have stolen the story. Not that I actually arrived with something planned – how could you? But maybe I’d *thought to* go with a #Steynwatch2, something along the lines of Steyn Has Landed. Then stuff about his greatness and his penchant for fishing.
Aneurin nibbles into that. As does the fella Ingram.
6pm at the Swalec. Warmer tonight than against Essex. First thought? Will this free up the local pacemen’s actions and by implication, give Steyn and Van der Gugten just that wee bit of a lift, or will it merely temper the pitch and soften things up?
I say local but the miles travelled and consequent environmental damage trailing behind Glammy’s strikemen give the lie to concepts such as this. They are guilty as charged by the Climate Change Lobby and yet… I can’t help loving them.
There may yet be a truly dynamic and exciting and destructive duo awaiting their moment and I am therefore am only momentarily torn in regard to their provenance and to any diabolical implications around their shocking inability to be born in Bridgend. More than that, I remain pret-ty close to thrilled at the prospect of seeing a hopefully settled-in Steyn and a Boy Wunda With Something to Prove charge in. Together – or one after the other. In the sun.
At 6.17, I’m counting down the moments.
Up in the really rather magnificent Media Centre, we hear that Glamorgan won the toss and are bowling. Which means I only have 13 minutes to wait. I spend the next four trying to work out if Dom – Glammy Social Media Dude – is winding us up on this. (He may have sensed me twitching, which leads me to a…
Question: could a fast bowler obsessive be called a twitcher? There is, after all, something hawkishly fabulous about Dale Steyn. Ok, onward.)
Time is both racing and surreally juddering as a bloke with a bewildering array of keepie-uppie skills fills the void before that next Steyn Moment by doing his thing right there in front of us, on the pitch. With a football and his cap. Then Glammy emerge, followed by James Vince and Michael Carberry, no less. Meaning this is a proper significant challenge.
Will Dale-bach be ready? And (Donald having shelled one on Wednesday) will his slips?
There are less fireworks, first up, than against the Eagles. Steyn bowls two goodish balls which draw nothing too adventurous from Vince, but then the Hampshire skipper eases the third through the covers for an undemonstrative four. It may have been a tad overpitched. He comes back with a sharp one outside off which Carberry wafts poorly at… but there’s no contact. A quietish over then.
Van der Gugten starts with a mixed bag. Attacks the crease, smacks the pitch but two or three are simply too hittable – being around the hip or shortish/wideish. Two boundaries result. He does however finish with an absolute peach; quick, lively and full – a wicket-taking ball which took no wicket. It does feel as though these guys do just need that moment of good fortune to ignite the Maestro/Apprentice Thing.
Steyn’s second over is decent but not hugely threatening. Hampshire have gone on to 26 for nought. Van der Gugten, meanwhile, takes an immediate rest.
Hogan steps in and gets Carberry, top-edging and maybe a little cramped; or lazy. Then he destroys Adams with a quick cutter which surely has clattered the stumps. But no. Unreal. 35 for 1 off 4.
Van der Gugten switches, in fact, to the Cathedral Road End. There’s the sense that he’s just *trying too hard* – or is that something folks just say when things go slightly unproductively? (It did seem like he’s really forcing towards a full length, when perhaps his natural length is shortish, darting or slamming towards the heart?)
Hogan bowls Vince with a stunning yorker and the thought occurs that maybe these Johnny Come Latelys are inevitably going to spike the competitive fury of some of their comrades. And that Hogan’s bouncy run has turned bouncier. The fella’s fist-pump at the wicket maybe hinted at that re-invigoration: he bowls great, tonight.
Wagg then easily pockets a skier from the bowling of Wagg and with Hampshire at 51 for 3 off 7 the game feels poised. I ask myself if it matters that neither Van der Gugten or Steyn have yet (yaknow) struck and struggle with the idea that actually yes it might – in the longer term.
When Hants lose another to a lame doink into the loveliest of Cardiff skies – this time Meschede benefitting – that need to massage the egos of the strike bowlers arguably recedes. Glammy are apparently okay without them. Who knew?
When the threatening Wheater is stumped Cooke bowled Cosker for 39 that a) feels good to the locals but b) brings in Shahid Afridi. *Surprisingly*, he looks to club Cosker down the ground but with limited success. The game progresses but the subtext (that story re the strike-bowlers who don’t seem to be striking yet) remains a goer.
Afridi – the inevitable sideshow(+) does then pat Wagg over midwicket for 6. The score moves to 107 for 5 after 14. And there is clearly a game, here.
Hogan returns to bowl the 15th and immediately claims a ‘typically’ t20 wicket – the batsman trying to do eight different, preconceived and unnecessary things with the ball…and getting rather limply caught.
Steyn returns to bowl the 17th. Two men out. He goes very quick but marginally down leg. It scuffs something maybe but it’s no event.
Then… The SOUTH AFRICAN LEGEND CLAIMS HIS FIRST GLAMMY WICKET with one that clips something on the way through. He backs that up with two very full and straight – the first of which almost *seriously inconveniences* Darren Sammy. Great contest now, as Sammy and Afridi face a distinctly waspish Steyn.
Hogan is back again, justifiably, looking in his pomp, for the 18th. BoomBoom smashes at everything, profiting until he drives one straight at deep mid-off. Hampshire now 136 for 8 as Steyn comes back for his fourth.
He claims Andrew caught behind with a shortish delivery that the batsman parries at fatally awkwardly. Then Tino Best can’t cope with a snorting full-lengther and is comprehensively leg before. This is timely and encouraging, ‘psychologically’ as Hants are done, on 141 and Dale-bach has therefore made the telling, innings-concluding contribution that he was bought to make. (No pressure.)
On reflection we must of course insert the fact that Hogan got 4 wickets to Steyn’s 3. We should also note again the energy and craft the (ahem) Senior Seamer brought to his work tonight.
However I suspect even Hogan would forgive our obsessing with Mr Steyn. Because that, if you remember was our subtext.
So, how was it for the electrifying new signing, with presumably the fattest contract in the Glammy Posse? Where did tonight take him? In a word, forward.
Is it mindcrushingly dumb to wonder if it’s the case that even legends – owners of the proverbial t-shirts – must feel relieved, feel better when they’ve justifed the fee/cheered the paying public/earned their crust? Surely they must?
Steyn looked fit, committed and focussed. And tonight he struck.
In reply to that 141, Glamorgan again started badly. The captain Rudolph is in danger of playing his way out of the side, having exited early-early again. As was the case in the Essex game, the innings steadied and then built around Donald, partnered ably by Ingram in this instance.
Glam were 63 for 2 off 6, with Ingram and Donald both on 28. Something in the ether felt with them, felt good – matchwinningly good – already.
After being dropped by Sammy out at deep midwicket, the latter went on to his highest t20 score, of 55. In doing so he hiked up both his reputation as a starlet-to-watch and the expectation around him. Donald’s manner and level of comfort against the likes of Tino Best was… impressive. Expect him to shine on rather than fizzle: this was his second consecutive Man-of-the-Match award.
Ingram, in belligerent mood, departed on 43 with the score at 108 for 4 off 12. All that remained was for Cooke to steer Glamorgan home.
The final blow was emphatically despatched through midwicket for four and the crowd of 6,100 duly celebrated. It was an important win in terms of momentum and the gathering in of any substantive support for a tilt towards bigger games, bigger money.
It was also a night when Dale Steyn began to make the mark that we want, he wants and Huw Morris gambled on.