County Championship 2021: Glamorgan Preview
What happened last year?
Glamorgan will be disappointed with a very poor red ball campaign in 2020. Bottom of the Bob Willis Trophy central group without a win will be seen as a regression after narrowly missing out on promotion to division one in 2019. That, however, will generally be seen as the exception year as they have regularly found themselves towards the bottom of the table.
In a short competition such as the Bob Willis Trophy, it was never going to be easy for teams to hit the ground running. For Glamorgan this proved more difficult than most. They ended up losing two games but were perilously close to losing a couple more, holding on for draws against both Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
When the main excitement from the competition was Marchant de Lange’s incredible hundred batting at number 10, you know there wasn’t much to write home about.
Key player for 2021
Where else can you look other than Marnus Labuschagne? He was immense in 2019 when he really pushed his case for Ashes selection which came about in unusual circumstances. After enjoying his first season so much with the Cardiff-based side, he then signed on for another two years. Having not been able to play during 2020 due to travel restrictions, he resigned for 2021 and 2022.
Labuschagne will be hoping to continue in the form he carried throughout the 2019 season when scoring five centuries including two in a game against Worcestershire. With a test match average north of 60, it will be vital that he scores a fairly significant weight of runs to give Glamorgan a chance of challenging.
Fellow Australian Michael Neser is a shrewd signing too and will hope to contribute too. However, unfortunate news for Glamorgan fans is that Labuschagne and Neser are unlikely to be available before May due to their Queensland side featuring in the Sheffield Shield final.
Ireland’s Andrew Balbirnie has been signed on a short spell to cover the absences of the two Australians.
Dan Douthwaite did not set the world alight last season, but a pace-bowling all-rounder is something any team would be lucky to have. Douthwaite was one of only four Glamorgan players to play all five games in the Bob Willis Trophy and seems to be one a core group that they look to build their squad around.
Glamorgan were just one of a number of counties that looked to sign Douthwaite as he scored plenty of runs for Cardiff MCCU in the early part of the 2019 season. He signed a contract to stay with the Glamorgan through to the end of the 2021 season.
The target for this year?
Glamorgan will be looking to secure a win for starters as things can only go up from last season. They are likely to struggle without Marnus Labuschagne and Michael Neser until their arrival in May. Andrew Balbirnie will attempt to fill the gap left by Labuschagne but will do very well to replace the man averaging over 60 in test matches.
Kent will be strong favourites to win Group 3 and there will likely be a scrap between the remaining five sides for the other positions. Glamorgan and Northamptonshire are two of the traditionally weaker sides so may be fighting between themselves to avoid the wooden spoon. Glamorgan may just have the edge due to their superior recruitment. Their final position will likely go down to the head to head results between them and Northants, so keep an eye on those matches.
Overseas players: Marnus Labuschagne and Michael Neser (both Australia), Andrew Balbirnie (Ireland) (short-term cover while Labuschagne is unavailable)