Warwickshire squandered the chance of a second successive win in the Twenty20 Cup with a poor display in the field here last night.
Had the Bears held their catches, they would surely top the Midland/Wales/West group this morning. Yet they paid the price for two drops and a missed stumping and were sentenced to a six-wicket victory with ten balls in hand.
Glamorgan were on the ropes at 15 for three in the fourth over. Hostile opening spells from Jimmy Anyon and Neil Carter had dispensed with the visitors' top order and the required run-rate had risen to more than ten an over a quarter of the way through the Glamorgan innings.
So had David Hemp been caught at mid-off on just five, Glamorgan would have been in severe trouble at 26 for four. Alas, Michael Powell spilt a relatively simple chance off Anyon and Hemp went on to engineer a superb stand of 106 in just 53 balls with New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin.
To compound the error, Tony Frost missed a stumping off the unfortunate Dougie Brown when Hemp had 21. Frost, never at his best standing up to the medium pacers, instead conceded two byes and Hemp, not for the first time, went on to break the hearts of his former county team-mates.
As if to rub salt in the wound, the spectators had no trouble catching the ball. As Hemp and Franklin peppered the 6,500 spectators with sixes, several of them put their beers to one side and clung on to one-handed catches.
Perhaps the reprieves made no difference. The murderous nature of Franklin's innings was worthy of winning any game. Unlike some of Warwickshire's batsmen, who appear intent on deflecting almost every delivery, Franklin kept it simple. He simply tried to hit every ball as far as he could. Very successful he was, too.
Warwickshire's support bowlers were powerless to contain the pair. A mercilessly short boundary on the Eric Hollies Stand side proved within easy range as Franklin thrashed four sixes and seven fours in his 29-ball stay. Only Andrew Symonds has hit a quicker Twenty20 half-century than Franklin's 18-delivery effort last night.
Brown conceded the most expensive spell by a Warwickshire bowler in this competition's short history, while the hosts were also punished for not playing a fifth specialist bowler.
Ian Westwood and Jim Troughton conceded 40 from their three overs yet one of them would still have had to bowl the final over had it been required. Indeed, Westwood's last two overs in this competition have now conceded 38.
Warwickshire had no answer to the assault. They have no death bowler and no specialist spinner and although Heath Streak produced a well-disguised slower ball to dismiss Nicky Peng, there is a lack of variety in their attack.
At least Alex Loduon should be available after the weekend. Even Duncan Fletcher can't believe that a man who had bowled six overs in the one-day series against Sri Lanka will require resting. Ian Bell may also be freed by England.
It would be wrong to lay the blame for this loss solely on Warwickshire's fielders. Too few of the batsmen contributed and it was again left to a late cameo from the captain, Streak, to ensure a competitive total.
Although Mark Wagh (41 deliveries, nine fours) made his maiden 50 in this form of the game, he required a couple of the top order to stay to provide some impetus. Jonathan Trott (19 balls, five fours) was impressive, but Troughton and Powell played more than a part in their own dismissals and Warwickshire lost their way in mid-innings.
Both Troughton (sweeping) and Powell (reverse sweeping) were out to pre-meditated deflection shots which they hit straight to fielders. There's nothing necessarily wrong with premeditated shots, but, with such small boundaries, perhaps they should have been looking at the more bucolic method. Sometimes, the simple option really is best.
Streak showed the way in his 21-ball stay. Successive sixes off Dean Cosker lifted his side to a par total and showed that while quick singles are all very well, it is boundaries that win Twenty20 matches.
This defeat is far from terminal to Warwickshire's hopes of progressing. The somewhat self-inflicted nature of it will smart but, with improved fielding, a quarter-final place.
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