Maher back for vital clash

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Glamorgan are set to welcome back Jimmy Maher for their vital Twenty20 Cup match tonight’s at Cardiff against the Warwickshire Bears.

The Australian batsman has now recovered from a groin strain he sustained three weeks ago at Swansea before Glamorgan’s Championship victory over Nottinghamshire, and he is set to replace Tom Maynard in the Dragons’ line-up from Friday night’s defeat at Taunton.

The Dragons need to return to winning ways if they are to harbour ambitions of a quarter-final berth, and with the Gloucestershire Gladiators, the Northamptonshire Steelbacks and the Worcestershire Royals above the Dragons in the zonal table, a victory would significantly boost their aspirations.

The Dragons narrowly lost their away clash with the Bears last weekend, and now, back at their headquarters, they can point to a decent Twenty20 record against the Midlands side at Sophia Gardens.

Indeed, the Bears were their opponents in the quarter-final tie in 2004 when the Dragons clinched a place at finals day in the competition.

In that match at Cardiff in July 2004, David Hemp and Matthew Elliott shared a match-winning stand that guided the Dragons to a five-wicket victory, and last weekend, there were plenty of positives in their performance at Edgbaston to give the Dragons hope of repeating that result.

If so, Hemp’s team will travel to Himley and Bristol later in the week with a quarter-final place in their sights if they can maintain their winning ways in their away matches against the Royals and the Gladiators.

In yesterday’s Twenty20 action, a 54-ball century by Hamish Marshall put the Gladiators’ campaign back on track with a 61-run win over Worcestershire at Kidderminster.

The Gladiators retained second place in the table by successfully defending a total of 198 for seven.

Worcestershire got off to a flying start at 12 runs an over but crumbled for 137 after losing their big three to well-judged catches by Ian Fisher.

Vikram Solanki (18) and Graeme Hick (31) fell at deep cover and mid-wicket, then Fisher ran in to hold a skier from Phil Jaques, who made 17.

Gloucestershire applied pressure with their shrewd field settings and Fisher completed a productive match with three wickets.

Marshall and fellow Kiwi Craig Spearman launched Gloucestershire’s innings with 48 inside the first four overs but it was only Marshall who maintained the tempo in moving to his first 50 from 28 balls.

The 28-year-old batsman had struck one six at that stage and he went on to clear the rope five more times – as well as hitting eight fours – in posting his century in the 16th over.

David Griffiths took three wickets on his Twenty20 Cup debut to bowl Hampshire to their first victory in this season’s competition.

The 21-year-old took his wickets for just 13 runs as the hosts restricted Essex to 99 for eight in a rain-reduced 15-over innings.

Sean Ervine finished the game unbeaten on 50 from 30 deliveries as Hampshire drew level with Essex on four points in the South Division and kept their quarter-final hopes alive.

Glamorgan Dragons squad: Jimmy Maher, Richard Grant, Ben Wright, David Hemp, Damien Wright, Mark Wallace, Alex Wharf, Ryan Watkins, Robert Croft, Dean Cosker, Andrew Davies, Tom Maynard, Nicky Peng and James Harris.
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