Archive for SWALEC Stadium

Glamorgan versus Gloucestershire

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on September 7, 2016 by telescoper

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As this eventful summer draws to a close I thought I’d make the most of my part-time status and take a day off to sample the last game of County Cricket at the Swalec Stadium in Sophia Gardens.

This was the second day of Glamorgan’s match against Gloucestershire. Day 1 had seen Glamorgan bowled out for 220 and Gloucestershire reach 62-3 in reply at stumps.

Glamorgan’s bowlers strained for the early wickets they needed but they didn’t create enough pressure to precipitate a collapse, and Gloucestershire ended on 347 for 8. Young legspinner Carlson bowled particularly well, but didn’t have much luck.

County Cricket is very relaxing. Neither a tense as Test cricket nor as hectic as  limited-overs, it has its own kind of atmosphere and goes at its own tempo, absorbing in its own modest way.

Glamorgan look like losing this game, and run a risk of finishing at the bottom of the County Championship. Still, there’s always next year…

UPDATE: Gloucestershire were all out for 363 on the morning of Day 3. Glamorgan then predictably struggled with the bat yet again, and were bowled out for 232 leaving Gloucestershire 90 to win. Their openers rattled off the runs in fewer than 20 overs by 5pm. Gloucestershire won by 10 wickets.

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Glamorgan versus Sussex

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , on August 23, 2016 by telescoper

Another of life’s little coincidences came my way today in the form of a County Championship match between Glamorgan and Sussex in Cardiff. Naturally, being on holiday, and the SWALEC Stadium being very close to my house, I took the opportunity to see the first day’s play.

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Sussex used the uncontested toss to put Glamorgan in to bat. It was a warm sunny day with light cloud and no wind. One would have imagined conditions would have been good for batting, but the Sussex skipper may have seen something in the pitch or, perhaps more likely, knew about Glamorgan’s batting frailties…

As it turned out, there didn’t seem to be much pace in the pitch, but there was definitely some swing and movement for the Sussex bowlers from the start. Glamorgan’s batsman struggled early on, losing a wicket in the very first over, and slumped to 54 for 5 at one stage, recovering only slightly to 87 for 5 at lunch.

After the interval the recovery continued, largely because of Wagg (who eventually fell for an excellent 57) and Morgan who was unbeaten at the close. Glamorgan finished on 252 all out on the stroke of the tea interval. Not a great score, but a lot better than looked likely at 54 for 5.

During the tea interval I wandered onto the field and looked at the pitch, which had quite a bit of green in it:

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Perhaps that’s why Sussex put Glamorgan in?

Anyway, when Sussex came out to bat it was a different story. Openers Joyce and Nash put on 111 for the first wicket, but Nelson did the trick for Glamorgan and Joyce was out just before stumps bringing in a nightwatchman (Briggs) to face the last couple of overs.

A full day’s cricket of 95 overs in the sunshine yielded 363 runs for the loss of 12 wickets. Not bad at all! It’s just a pity there were only a few hundred people in the crowd!

Sussex are obviously in a strong position but the weather forecast for the later part of this week is not good so they should push on tomorrow and try to force a result!

Cricket, Lovely Cricket – Ashes Victory in Cardiff

Posted in Cardiff, Cricket with tags , , , , on July 12, 2015 by telescoper

Last Wednesday (8th July 2015) I had the good fortune to be in the crowd at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff to see the first day’s play in the First Test between England and Australia of this summer’s Ashes series. I have to say that I was very apprehensive about how the game would go, but as I was in Wales anyway I couldn’t resist being there to watch it. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that it didn’t turn out too badly.

It wasn’t a very auspicious start to the day – light rain was falling as we walked to the ground and at the scheduled start time the England team were still in the pavilion:

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Play eventually got going about fifteen minutes late, though it could have started earlier had the Powers That Be dispensed with some of the silly preliminaries. It did rain a little before lunch too, but the players didn’t come off. Thereafter the weather steadily improved and we got a full day’s play, closing at about 6.45pm. I even had sunburnt knees as a souvenir, as I had decided to wear shorts for the day and the stand we were in offered no protection from the afternoon sun. Good job I had brought my sunhat.

England had won the toss and decided to bat. The desire to have first use of a good batting pitch must have been tempered in England Captain Alastair Cook’s mind by the likelihood that the overcast conditions would help the Aussie fast bowlers. England struggled early on with the bat, Lyth getting out cheaply playing across a straight one from Hazlewood (who was in the team to replace the injured Ryan Harris) to leave England at 7 for 1. Ballance battled hard at Number 3 but Cook at the other end looked relatively comfortable. Then Michael Clarke threw the ball to offspinner Nathan Lyon to have a go at the lefthanded Cook who seemed impatient to score off him. That proved his downfall as he was out for 20, caught at the wicket, trying to cut a short ball. Ian Bell came, scored one run off a nervous looking lofted drive and was then dismissed leg before wicket by a good inswinger from the excellent Mitchell Starc. At 43-3 England were on the brink, and could have fallen over it a few balls later when new batsman Joe Root played a strange shot at his second ball, a very full swinging delivery from Starc which resulted in an edge that went at a good height to wicket-keeper Brad Haddin diving (somewhat theatrically) to his right. Fortunately for England, Haddin spilled what looked a relatively straightforward chance; having seen the replay a number of times I don’t understand why Haddin didn’t go for it with both hands. At 43-4 England would have been in deep doo-doo, but as it happened Ballance and Root steadied the ship and after a tense morning England reached lunch at 88 for 3.

The ball certainly did swing in that morning session, but the predominant impression I got was that it was a very flat pitch, with very little bounce. Watching from a position square of the wicket to a batsman at the River Taff end, it was noticeable how many balls didn’t carry through to the wicket-keeper. Indeed, Warner’s excellent slip catch to take the wicket of Lyth was harder than it needed to have been because the slips were standing too deep for much of the game. Mitchell Starc was easily the pick of the Australian bowlers; the other Mitchell (Mitchell Johnson) laboured ineffectively on the kind of pitch he clearly doesn’t like to bowl on. He was expensive too. England’s Nemesis of the 13/14 Ashes Tour down under was to finish with 0-111 off 25 overs.

After lunch the sun came out and the character of the play changed. Root and Ballance completed partnership of 153 before Ballance fell for 61 with the score on 196 for 4. This ushered in the belligerent Stokes who didn’t have it all his own way – he got into a tangle trying to hook a Mitchell Johnson bouncer, sending it high over Haddin’s head for six – but Root at the other end had ridden his early luck and made an excellent century. Root is currently in unbelievably good form and it says something for his temperament that he looked bitterly disappointed when he eventually got out for a superb 134, shortly followed by Stokes who made 54. The score was then 293 for 6, by no means enough runs on a good batting pitch but a good recovery from 43-3. Buttler and Moeen Ali added another 50 partnership in quick time until Buttler fell nearly at the end of the day’s play. I was particularly impressed with Moeen’s batting late on and it was he who produced the short of the day for me – a magnificent sweep into the stands for six off the bowling of Lyon. Broad survived a torried couple of overs to leave England on 343-7 at the close of play.

I couldn’t help recalling that the closing score on the first day of corresponding fixture in 2009, which ended famously in a draw, was 336-7. On that occasion, England’s tail wagged brightly the following morning (when I was in the ground) to take their score to 435 all out. As things stood, I felt that the match was evenly poised. If England could do something similar to their feats of 2009 on the second day of this match then they would have a good chance of winning, but if Australia could take quick wickets they would have the edge.

Unfortunately I only had tickets for the first day so I ad to keep up with the rest of the match on the radio and via Twitter. On Day 2, England’s tail did wag – Moeen scoring an excellent 77 – to finish on 430 all out. So far the pattern remained similar to 2009, but that was about to change. Australia got a much better start to their first innings than England had, but lost wickets at the end of Day 2 to close on 264-5 – a far cry from the 248-1 which was their position at the end of Day 2 in 2009. The following morning they were all out for 308, a deficit of 122. England batted again on Day 3 and, not without moments of alarm, accumulated enough runs to build an imposing lead; they were eventually all out at the end of Day 3 for 289. Australia needed to score 412 to win with two days left, though the forecast for Day 5 was for heavy rain.

Clouds had returned to Cardiff for Day 4 (Saturday) and the Australian batsmen were in all sorts of difficulties against the swing on Anderson and Broad. Rogers fell cheaply, Warner was having trouble laying bat on ball, and the runs had dried up. Then Alastair Cook made I think his only tactical mistake of the match: he brough Moeen on to bowl too early. Warner seemed to relax and played some good shots. Moeen was withdrawn after just two expensive overs. The momentum had been handed back to Australia, who began scoring freely. In the last over before lunch they were 97-1, with two batsmen at the crease who were both perfectly capable of posting big scores. Then Cook brough Moeen back for one over before lunch, whereupon he trapped Warner lbw for 52. It was just the fillip England needed. After lunch Smith, Clarke and Voges fell in quick succession to leave Australia in the mire at 106-5. Neither Haddin not Watson stayed around long and Australia were soon 151 for 7. Mitchell Johnson batted defiantly in difficult circumstances, adding 72 for the 8th wicket with Mitchell Starc until their partnership was broken by none other than Joe Root, who as well as being a superb batsman is a spin bowler with an uncanny knack of taking important wickets. Root also took the catch, off the bowling of Moeen Ali, that sealed the game. Australia were all out for 242 about an hour after tea. England had won by 169 runs. Man of the Match: Joe Root, obviously.

So, first blood to England. Of course there are another four Tests to go, starting at Lord’s on Thursday where the pitch may well be much more helpful to the Australian quick bowlers, but this result is better than I imagined at the start of the game and if England can keep it up they at least have a chance of winning back the Ashes. Don’t expect the Aussies to roll over, though. They will be stung by this defeat, and I full expect them to come back hard.

P.S. This was the weather situation in Cardiff earlier today, which would have been the fifth day.

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Had Australia batted through to the close on Day 4, it is quite possible that there would have been no play on Day 5, which means the game would have ended in a draw. Now I understand why this Test started on a Wednesday!

P.P.S. Only three members of the current England team played in the 2009 Ashes Test in Cardiff: Anderson, Broad and Cook.

One Day International

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , , , on September 17, 2011 by telescoper

I promised yesterday to post a quick account of the Fifth (and final) One Day International between England and India at the SWALEC stadium in Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, so here goes…

As I feared, the weather in Cardiff yesterday wasn’t brilliant and, although it was quite warm during the morning, it was overcast and there were stacks of very dark clouds around by lunchtime. We got to the ground in time for the scheduled start, which was 2pm, but just as play was about to get under way the heavens opened and down came the rain.

This was the scene about five to two, just as the covers were being taken off; they dark clouds to the left were moving from left to right and  covered the ground a few minutes later whereupon it stotted down.

Fortunately, although it came down in stair-rods for a while,  the rain  didn’t last long so play actually got under way about 2.40 and the authorities decided that the game would remain 50 overs a side (with a late finish).

England won the toss and decided to field. Openers Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane got the Indian innings off to a good start with a partnership of 52 runs, then Rahane was removed by Jade Dernbach when the batsman,  after scoring just  26 runs off 47 deliveries,  was caught by Steven Finn at third man, right down in front of us. In the 16th over, Patel also fell,  for 9 runs off 39 deliveries,  when he was caught by Tim Bresnan at mid-on off the bowling of spinner Graeme Swann.  Rahul Dravid (playing his last ODI)  and Virat Kohli then played a wonderful partnership which was not broken until the last delivery of the 42nd over.  England finally managed to grab the wicket of Dravid who left the field to a standing ovation after scoring  69 runs. The Dravid/ Kohli partnership had brought 170 runs; by the time  Dravid’s wicket fell, India were on 227-3. Meanwhile,  Kholi had managed to score his sixth one-day hundred but he was out for 107  in the 44th over when he was given out hit-wicket while trying to play a delivery by Swann; his back foot had apparently slipped and struck the stumps, dislodging a bail. Unlucky.

The Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni then smashed 50 runs off 26 deliveries to help his side post a score of 304-6, leaving England a daunting target of 305 runs to win. India certainly batted well, but were helped a bit by poor bowling by some of the England players. Indeed the only bowler I thought was really impressive was Finn, who was consistetly over 90 mph in his opening spell and was clearly troubling the Indian batsmen. Jade Dernbach, by contrast, committed the unpardonable sin of bowling wides in the last over. Incidentally, I managed to catch the umpire signalling an England wide, but I can’t remember who was bowling at the time:

Just after they players went off for a (shortened) interval, the rain came back again and this time it was decided that there wouldn’t be time for another full 50 overs. The Duckworth–Lewis (D/L) method was wheeled out, with the initial outcome that England would have to score 270 to win off 40 overs. That seemed very tough – the ten overs lost only reducing England’s target by 35. Another rain delay then  revised the target further  to 241 runs from 34 overs, a very stiff challenge indeed.

The many Indian supporters in the ground were buoyed by their team’s strong batting performance and seemed confidedent of a first victory against England this tour. I thought India would win at this point too, as a matter of fact. Anyway, the rain finally cleared and as the sun came out a rather nice rainbow appeared over Sophia Gardens as the floodlights were switched on for the “night” part of this “day-night” game.

England came out to bat and, rightly, sought to take the attack to India right from the ouset. Openers Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter scored quickly against some frankly rather poor Indian bowling.

England suffered their first loss in the fifth over with the score on 27 when Kieswetter was given leg-before wicket off the bowling of Vinay Kumar. Cook was then joined by Jonathan Trott, often a rather slow scorer, but  both batsmen scored quite freely building a partnership of 79 runs until Cook was dismissed in the 18th, bowled by Kohli. The England total was 106 at this point, with three wickets down but plenty of batting still to comeyet only 16 overs to score the remaining 135 needed to win.

Ian Bell departed after scoring 26 runs and then  Trott fell to a catch, off an uncharacteristically poor shot, for  63 runs off 60 deliveries. With four wickets now down, India (and their fans) must have been feeling pretty confident that they could stop England’s run chase. The result was firmly  in the balance.

Cue the  21-year-old debutant Jonathan Bairstow who looked a little nervous for his first two or three deliveries, but then  proceeded to smash the Indian bowling all round the park (and out of it). I think at least two of his big straight hits may well have landed in the River Taff after clearing the stands at the Riverside end quite comfortably.  The flurry of boundaries boosted England’s scoring rate so quickly that in no time the target started to look not just possible but comfortable.  In the end Bairstow remained unbeaten on 41 runs while his partner Ravi Bopara was not out 37 as England won by 6 wickets with more than an over to spare.

It was an impressive performance by the England batsman and a crushing disappointment for India, who now  return  home without winning a single match in England this season.

Despite the showery weather it was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion. The ground was packed,  the sizeable Indian contingent contributed a lot to the atmosphere, and the usual groups of daft blokes in bizarre fancy dress also added a measure of eccentricity to the event. It did look at one point that there might be an ugly scene between two groups of fans in our stand, but thankfully it didn’t turn out to be very serious. We don’t want any of that sort of thing at cricket matches, thank you very much.

So that’s that. A fine end to the  summer of international cricket, though perhaps not for the Indian players and supporters….

Testing Times

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , , on May 29, 2011 by telescoper

It’s raining this morning (again), delaying the start of the fourth day’s play in the First Test between England and Sri Lanka which is taking place at the SWALEC Stadium here in Cardiff, just a few hundred yards from my house.

One of the advantages of living so close to the ground is that I can stay home and dry when there is a delayed start and simply toddle down there when start of play is announced on the radio. That’s my plan for today, in fact. It was a similar state of affairs yesterday. There was heavy rain first thing, which had been forecast, but it was exacerbated by persistent heavy drizzle for hours afterwards, which hadn’t. The covers therefore stayed on all morning with the result that (a) play didn’t start until 2pm but (b) I had time to write a lengthy blog post about Friday’s concert and (c) have lunch at home before walking to the ground.

The match was interestingly poised, with Sri Lanka all out for exactly 400 and England on 47-1 having lost Andrew Strauss late on Friday evening. Jimmy Anderson, who had come in as nightwatchman, departed almost immediately on Saturday, bringing in Jonathan Trott to join Alastair Cook. The pair batted steadily on. And on. Seventy overs passed, in fact, and the two accumulated runs in remorseless fashion without offering any significant chances, adding 240 runs to bring England to 287-2 at stumps, both reaching fine centuries. It wasn’t thrilling strokeplay of the crash-bang-wallop style you get in Twenty20, but good old-fashioned Test cricket. I thought it was magnificent, although it’s probably precisely the kind of cricket that puts some people off Test matches.

Unfortunately, the state of the game and the weather both mean that anything other than a draw is extremely unlikely. There’s already been quite a lot of time lost to the rain and only Sri Lanka’s first innings is complete. The forecast for today is showery – it’s raining right now, in fact – so it’s unlikely we’ll get a full day’s play. The forecast for Day 5 is even worse – with heavy rain in store most of the day. It’s hard to see how two more innings can possibly be completed. Moreover, England’s best bowler, James Anderson, is injured and will not be bowling in the Sri Lanka second innings (if there is one). The Cardiff wicket is basically a good batting pitch, although it is a bit on the slow side,  and I don’t see how England can bowl out Sri Lanka with only two seamers and a spinner. If England could have got to 600 plus then with a full bowling attack they might have had a chance at an inning’s victory – especially if the pitch starts to turn, which it shows signs of doing – but that seems very unlikely now.

At the risk of being too critical, I think this all illustrates the folly of England’s selection policy. They went into this game knowing that Sri Lanka was a good batting side, and Sri Lanka’s fine first innings display should not have come as a surprise. I wasn’t at the first two days’ but it seems that the England bowling attack looked quite ordinary even at full strength. I think a Test team really needs five bowlers. In the absence of a genuine all-rounder, England should not have picked a specialist batsman (Morgan) at number 6, but another bowler and the top-order batsmen told to stand up and be counted (which is precisely what they are doing). Wicket-keeper Prior should be at 6, with Broad and Swann counting as half an all-rounder each. The injury to Anderson reinforces this argument, as does Broad’s obvious lack of match fitness. They might get away with it for this game, but think they need to rethink this before taking on India who are a much stronger side than Sri Lanka.

I had been hoping to take a few snaps in the ground, but like the idiot I am I forgot to charge my phone up beforehand and when I got there the battery was almost flat. I decided to preserve what juice there was for emergency calls – though that was an unlikely contingency – by refraining even from Tweeting for the duration, regular intakes of beer staving off any sense of boredom. It was well after 7pm when the final over was bowled, and I only just got home to watch Barcelona’s comprehensive dismantling of Manchester United in the Champion’s League final.

UPDATE: Just for the record, England ended day 4 on 491-5 with Trott out for 203 and Bell unbeaten on 98. Great batting from everyone, except Pietersen. Not much chance of a result, though, especially if the weather forecast for tomorrow is accurate…

Twenty20

Posted in Cricket with tags , , , , , on September 8, 2010 by telescoper

Just a quick post to share a picture taken at  last night’s Twenty20 International in Cardiff between England and Pakistan. We had the entire spectrum of Welsh weather to contend with, but the worst of yesterday’s rain was over well before the match started and the SWALEC stadium, just ten minutes’ walk from my house, was a fine sight under a variety of peculiar cloud formations and the floodlights, as you can tell  from the picture I took on my phone.

Pakistan won the toss and batted first, but didn’t make a very good fist of it and were bowled out for a mere 89 from their 20 overs. England had a little wobble during the run chase but in the end won comfortably by 6 wickets.

Unfortunately, the crowd numbered only a few thousand so the atmosphere was a bit flat and Pakistan’s poor showing with the bat made it all a bit of anti-climax, but it was still a good way to precede a nice curry. I’ve heard various theories as to why the attendance was so poor, but I think it’s pretty obvious: at £45  for a game whose format ensures it can last no longer than about three hours,  tickets for this match were just too expensive. I think the authorities should think again about their pricing strategy.


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