Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Sussex 2023

Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Sussex 2023

Glamorgan 123 and 737 (Carlson 192, Labuschagne 138, Neser 123) drew with Sussex 481 (Coles 138, Smith 89, Haines 58) and 1 for 0

The sight of Ollie Robinson leaving the Sussex dressing-rooms on crutches and with his left foot in a protective boot summed up the stark turnaround in this match at Hove. Robinson’s celebrations were unrestrained on day one when he removed Marnus Labuschagne with his first ball to the Australian, as Glamorgan were blown away in 37.4 overs. But the visitors batted out more than six sessions second time around to record their second-highest first-class total and fight the game to a standstill.

Glamorgan coach, Matthew Maynard, praised his side’s resilience after they overcame a first-innings deficit of 358, with Australia allrounder Michael Neser becoming the third centurion of the innings. After Robinson’s opening salvo, most of the pre-Ashes points-scoring in this match has come from the other side. “He’s contributed really well with the bat this year for us, on top of his outstanding bowling efforts,” Maynard said of Neser. “To top it with a hundred, delighted for him.”

Sussex, who recorded their fifth consecutive draw to remain second in Division Two, were left more than a little battered by the effort. Robinson had been off the field since before lunch on day three due to an ankle injury that could affect his England availability and the captain, Cheteshwar Pujara, was absent on Sunday with a stiff neck (although India shouldn’t need to worry about his readiness for the World Test Championship final). Three bowlers – Ari Karvelas, Jack Carson and James Coles – bowled more than 30 overs, with Carson sending down 54 for figures of 2 for 216.

An attack missing the services of Robinson was perhaps always going to struggle to take 20 wickets for only the second time this season. They got there in the end, by which time Glamorgan had amassed 737 – the fifth-highest second-innings score in history – and a lead of 379 with nominally 14 overs left in the game. Neser scored the third first-class hundred of his career, and first for Glamorgan, the mark achieved with a mighty slog-sweep for six off the bowling of his Australia team-mate Steven Smith.

Smith, bowling offbreaks, picked up a maiden Sussex wicket – exuberantly celebrated after a fine one-handed catch on the boundary rope by sub fielder Sean Hunt – and eventually yorked Neser to bring the innings to a close. Cricket being cricket, the timing of the dismissal meant that Sussex still had to come out and bat for an over before hands could be shaken on a draw, with Labuschagne bounding eagerly through six deliveries of medium-pace before signing off from county duties.

Glamorgan’s monumental effort eclipsed by more than 150 runs their previous highest second-innings score – made at Newport in 1939, against a Gloucestershire team for whom Wally Hammond chalked up 302. Emrys Davies was the bulwark for Glamorgan on that occasion, making a career-best 287 not out. Here the Welsh hero was Kiran Carlson, who also made his highest first-class score – albeit only bettering the previous mark by one run – with notable support from Glamorgan’s two Australian overseas players.

As epic rearguards go, you could scarcely ask for more – and after Carlson went early, adding just five runs to his overnight 187, it was no surprise that Glamorgan were uninterested in making a sporting declaration. All that work to go home with 2 points? No thanks. “We were never safe until quite late in the day,” Maynard said. In the end, their second-innings effort outstripped their first by more than 600 runs, which in the language of the Tour de France, that great sporting endurance test, was rather like crashing your bike down at sea level in Bayonne only to then beast your way to the front of the peloton in time to summit the Col du Tourmalet.

All results remained theoretically possible at the start of the day, with Glamorgan 141 in front and Sussex hoping to burgle five wickets and set up a chase. They managed two in the morning session, and two more during the afternoon, but the game was already drifting towards somnolence. Smith was called on to bowl – perhaps imitating Labuschagne’s recent tinkering by eschewing his usual legbreaks – and then it was on to the collector’s items: Tom Alsop’s left-arm tweak and the optimistic lob-ups of Ali Orr, for the first time in senior cricket.

The day took on a vaguely hallucinatory quality, as the players went through their motions. It brought to mind a quote from Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, which describes “the beauty of cricket played on a lawn of appropriate dimensions, where the white-clad ring of infielders, swanning figures on the vast oval, again and again converge in unison toward the batsman and again and again scatter back to their starting points, a repetition of pulmonary rhythm, as if the field breathed through its luminous visitors.” Except, by this point, we were all waiting for it to take its final breath.

Sussex were left to rue having dropped Carlson on 3 midway through the second morning – although given even the Glamorgan No. 11 Jamie McIlroy made a career-best (11 not out), perhaps the combination of surface and opposition would have proved unyielding either way. Five Glamorgan batters faced more than 100 balls, while each of the bottom three batted for more than an hour in support of Neser.

Paul Farbrace, who described Robinson’s moon boot as “precautionary”, said that Sussex’s bowling in the second innings had not been consistent enough, and confirmed the club are set to bring in a second overseas bowler for the next block of Championship games, with Pujara and Smith both departing for international duty.

“We are getting our bonus points for bowling a team out once, but we’re not capable of doing it twice, and that’s an area we’ve got to improve on,” Farbrace said. “Instead of finishing this little period of Championship games with one win in six, I think we should be finishing it with at least three wins. But we’ve not been good enough to do that.”

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

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