Glamorgan. Glammy. The former a nice word, maybe with that welshy-bucolic thing going on: pointing most to somewhere in South Wales and maybe also to cricket. Reckon most people in fact, hearing the word Glamorgan, even those heathens utterly disenfranchised from sport, think of cricket: somehow buoyed by this.
Let me not only declare an interest but also the limits of that interest. I root for Glammy. I go watch, sometimes, I check results, regularly, I watch the livestreams or listen to Nick Webb, Edward Beaven, Gareth Rees and co. I *follow* Glamorgan. And I am neck-deep in sporting tribalism, swimming and drowning, bawling and bailing out the boat; I blog on the poetry and the bluster of all this.
So I know how daft-but-wonderfully true this ‘following’ can be – but also how fickle, how proud, how exclusive. I’m aware (maybe conscious might be the better word?) that I’m not a real Glammy fan. Neither born Welsh, nor club historian. I’ve followed for years, not decades, so I’m yes, a latecomer. Despite living in Wales for forty years. Despite working for Cricket Wales for best part of ten. Dig deep and you’ll find the phoney if you want to.
Not looking for sympathy: just marking out, noting to the universe that this tribal-legitimacy thing is fascinating and multi multi-faceted, eh? It’s both the heart of most games and also searchingly obnoxious. There is nothing like Real Fans and yet not all part-time supporters are fakers. I get completely pumped when Glamorgan are flying but I also rather fear interrogation by The Glam Faithful.
I am drawn into this for several reasons. One is Marnus Labuschagne. I’m guessing readers of this blog (unless here by accident) will know he is the South African-rooted (or routed?) Australian who followed up a storming season for Glamorgan with a crucial contribution to an Ashes win. He was, in short, a revelation.
Now I don’t know who claims most credit for signing Labuschagne for Glam, originally – could be any of Hugh Morris, Matt Maynard or Mark Wallace, or a combination of all three – but that Signing of the Season has now turned into a glorious plural, if indeed ‘a’ can be plural. Marnus is with us for two more years!
Now this is great. Clearly. Unequivocally. And yet…
Any overseas signing of any sort reduces possibilities for homegrown players. Clearly. And having spoken to Hugh Morris on this subject I know how much (despite multiple signings – and therefore, yes, against certain evidence) that he is looking to build a strong contingent of Welsh players within the club.
Incoming… arguments against, referencing The Hundred, bigtime. Glamorgan have only Colin Ingram (a South African) representing Glamorgan County Cricket Club, in their Welsh Fire squad. Of course this registers as a significant insult to many cricket followers in Wales and runs strikingly counter to any alleged pro-local strategy – understand that. But…
Not going to get drawn into The Hundred Debate here, other than to say I *personally know* that Hugh Morris fought powerfully hard to retain the Welsh branding for the mainly Cardiff-based outfit & that he is absolutely looking to develop players within Wales who can compete for Glam/Welsh Fire selection. Over some years Morris has pushed for a top level Development Pathway which delivers First Class and international class cricketers. That pathway, following a partnership with Cricket Wales is now a) in place and b) beginning, on the female side in particular, to suggest that elite players are coming through.
Morris is tough, smart and tremendously committed to Glamorgan. This is why I believe that over a period of years, a core or an important smattering of Welsh players will be featuring in the county colours and in those of Welsh Fire. Right now, players are being bought-in, wholesale. I have no doubt that Maynard, Wallace and Morris are all working their balls off to change that: it will simply take time.
Labuschagne is quality and his signing really is a coup for the management. It will set supporters hearts a-fluttering just a tad. Could Glammy finally be completely competitive in the County Championship? Might he make a difference in the One Day Cup – & even the Blast? Who knows? How great, though, to be hoping?
I do understand that some cannot get past the fears for the traditional game that are bundled up in the radically challenging package that is The Hundred: I’m not here to vouch for the new format, much less campaign for it. I would merely note to the universe that in the short-term sense, Labuschagne is a huge plus, for Glam, and that longer-term, I know the drive towards elite Welsh cricketers goes on.
Also; all of us want locals and we all want to win. Many, I think, want to win with style and even – dare I say it, in *these times?* – with a little grace. There is romance, yet, there is fever. Meanwhile, in and out of sport, some seem all-out to ‘other’ the other. These things are complex.