Dart back from an All Stars Cricket event at Eastern Leisure Centre, supported by Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething. (More on this later). Traffic against us but we manage to get to Sophia Gardens in the nick of.
Glammy to bat, Essex open with left arm spin. Quietish first over, 6 from it.
Change of pace claims a wicket in the next – Meschede slapping Quinn rather carelessly to midwicket. However, this feels relatively non-traumatic… as the man incoming is Ingram.
However, when Donald holes out to the same bowler from one that may have stopped a touch in the pitch (and Glamorgan are 8 for 2 after 2) our nonchalance around this is challenged, somewhat. The crowd, on another delightful evening, shuffle quietly.
Ingram, predictably, lifts things. He races to 25 and, joined by Carlson, does that uniquely T20 dynamic transformation-thing. The South African is unplayable in a way that might really be pretty demoralising (already) for the Essex attack.
He is controlling at least as much as he is exploding. He goes through 44 off 18 balls, claiming 30 off Quinn in the 6th. At the end of the power play Glamorgan sit at 71 for 2.
Carlson is caught at deep midwicket off a slight miscue, bringing some respite for the visitors; 93 for 3. The youngster had taken 11 out of the partnership’s 75. Cooke is in. Imagine he’ll be looking to lean on his bat, in the main.
We are hearing in the Media Centre that Ingram needs 15 off 6 to beat his own ridicu-record. It feels like a formality: spoiler, he doesn’t.
Cooke, perhaps sensing that he’s a comparative irrelevance, flips Bopara to deep fine leg. There’s an argument that he might have been better simply repeatedly dropping a one to get Kingram back in and maintain the momentum: this argument is strengthened when Bopara nails Selman first ball, l.b.w. and things inevitably have stalled.
113 for 5 and Wagg must face the hat-trick ball. He survives.
Essex have mixed things up and looked decent enough in the field. But Ingram has eased his way to 89, come the end of the 14th. You feel like another irresistible burst is a -coming and then… caught in the deep, off Bopara.
125 for 6, with no meaningful contribution from anyone else in the Glam line-up; this could peter out disappointingly, we fear. Wagg and Salter must produce.
Ingram (and possibly the coaches) might be forgiven for offering icy stares and swear-words all round as the innings does indeed threaten to disappear.
Extraordinarily, after 16 overs, with Salter leaving us, Ingram is the only player to breach the boundary. Killer stat, right there. A nailed-on 200 is drifting to a likely 160 as we reach 138 for 7 off 17.
Bopara, numberless, is back. Smith slashes him wide of mid-off for a much-needed four, then cuts him square for another. Follows that with a contemptuous wallop through cow corner – having picked a very slow slower ball early. Some encouragement as Glam reach 155 for 7 by the end of the 18th. Quinn will bowl the penultimate over, from the River End.
Wagg absolutely clonks him to leg, first ball – middled and massive. He’ll be looking for 20 from the over: he exceeds that by six.
Seems inadequate to talk of ebbs and flows in T20: more like raging floods and desperate micro-calms.
Late on, from nowhere, Wagg and Smith invent the second partnership this innings desperately cried-out for. 198 for 7, we finish, with both Wagg and Smith undefeated – on 53 and 22 respectively. Strangely unbalanced, that; unaccountable, somehow.
Wheater and Chopra are the openers for Essex. They have an early dig, with Hogan responding by bowling full, full, with mixed success. 23 for 0 off 2.
Smith, from the River End, slaps a couple into the deck. Wheater connects with one off a decent length to swish him through midwicket for four, but carts the next to deep square, where he is easily caught. Walter joins Chopra and we sit at 30 for 1 after 3.
Walter is six foot nine, apparently, in old money – the language of the Media Centre. In that same illuminating tongue one of us personifies him eloquently as ‘looking like a bloody monster’. (A confession, at this point: it was me).
Van der Guten replaces Hogan, running away from us but there is no further joy for Glamorgan. Hogan, in fact, has changed ends and now charges in from the tree-lined Taff. He concedes a four through midwicket but then beats Walter with a quick one outside off. Good over – 6 from it.
Van der Gugten is a touch short of luck, barrelling in and spearing for the sticks but only finding a scruffy edge past the vacant leg-slip area. Hogan has a gentle word. Last ball also squirts past the keeper’s left hand, mind. 61 for 1 off 6.
Meschede is on and immediately makes an impact, Walter being snaffled superbly at mid-on. Shadows beginning to bloom under the lights.
Ingram is in for the eighth. No real sign of spin but he bundles through relatively unscathed.
Meschede is running in with some urgency. When he drops a tad short Salter makes a good stop at backward point. Decent spell for Glam.
Salter is in, from underneath us in the Media Centre. Looks to me that he’s really been looking to extract a wee bit more, of late; he stays flattish, quickish, understandably so, with his off-spin but there are revs on the ball. He may be a tad unfortunate that the pitch here tends to offer little in the way of assistance.
Wagg follows, losing some pace, bowling some gentle comeandhaveagoifyouthinkyou’rehardenough cutters. Smith changes ends, with things feeling ver-ry even: required rate 10 (give or take), score now 112 for 2 off 12.
Chopra has medium-quietly gone to 50 for the visitors, as dusk falls. Wagg, returning, has his wily head on again- successfully so – until his final delivery clears the the square leg boundary.
Magic Man Ingram again stirs the relative peace, bowling ten Doeschate for 28. We welcome in Bopara, knowing that he’s, as they say, ‘well capable’.
VDG claims what may be the key wicket of Chopra, who skies one, in trying to clear his arms: Cooke pockets it watchfully. Chopra’s 54 came off 41 balls.
The evening has gone from dusky to batty. We are back with Ingram, with Zaidi and Bopara coiled. Runs come but not decisively, you feel.
VDG will bowl the 17th. Bopara steers him rather beautifully over mid-off – six. Glam need a wicket.
Zaidi does everything to offer one, firstly by swinging wildly across something which nearly cleans him out, secondly by lofting to long-on, and the grateful Smith. This will surely be close. Hogan.
Peach of a yorker then six over mid-on. Storms and calms. Much tactical rearrangement. Another good yorker. Then too much width – it’s slashed away through third man. 167 for 5, 32 off 2 needed.
Wagg in again from the river. Around the wicket. a poor full-toss gets clattered over long-on. Six. Forgiven when Harmer finds backward point next delivery. 175 for 6 at the end of a good over. Hogan has 24 to play with.
The endgame. Two boundaries, meaning 16 off 4. Becomes 14 off 3 – Bopara facing. Six! Dot ball! Dot ball to finish, Glamorgan winning by 6 runs.
Hogan has closed it out again. He may not be the biggest threat in the division but the fella is impressively, sometimes imperiously cool at the death; genuinely rate him for that. Another win for Glammy – four in four – and that Finals Day Mad Day Out may yet streak towards us – possibly literally.