Cardiff (day 3 of 4): Warwickshire 421 (I J Westwood 176, A G Botha 62, R D B Croft 4-101) v Glamorgan 248 (G P Rees 77, J E Anyon 6-82) & 221-4 (D L Hemp 56, J W M Dalrymple 52 no)
If the secret of success in cricket is all about timing, then Jimmy Anyon should go on to enjoy a fine career in the game.
Anyon, Warwickshire’s 25-year-old seamer, is out of contract in September. While Warwickshire are keen to retain his services, Middlesex have also made an approach for him. He declined the offer of a contract extension last year, but his agent will talk with Warwickshire this week.
So it wasn’t a bad time to produce career-best bowling figures. Anyon’s six for 82 in Glamorgan’s first innings might only be the second five-wicket haul of his career, but it was deserved reward for some increasingly impressive performances over recent weeks and will make his case for an improved contract more eloquently than any words.
Despite 18 wickets in the last three Championship games, Anyon is not the finished article. While at his best, thumping the ball in just back of a length, he can look a menacing proposition, there are also days when it looks as if he’s armed with a powder-puff.
The secret of unlocking his potential, Ashley Giles believes, is in “finding the inner dog” hiding within a mild-mannered exterior. Indeed, it could be the secret to success for a few of this side.
“We’re nice people, and that’s great,” Giles said. “Off the pitch, anyway. But I was reading Wisden the other day and it said something along the lines of ‘Warwickshire continued to be the most unpopular team in the country.’
"Well, that was from the mid-90s and it was also when we were winning everything. We do need to rediscover a bit of that hard spirit and I want us to get stuck in on the pitch. Jimmy needs to be a bit tougher, a bit more emotionally balanced and a bit more consistent.”
It’s a point with which Anyon agrees.
“I’m not young any more,” he said, “and I know I have got to start taking a bit more responsibility. There’s no hiding behind the likes of Heath Streak or Dougie Brown any more. It’s time to step up and bowl the long spells.
“It’s about time I took another five-for. I didn’t think I bowled that well, but I’ve bowled a lot better and not taken any wickets, so I’ll take this.
“ I don’t really want to think about the contract stuff. I’d like it to be sorted soon, I’m enjoying working with these coaches and I consider myself a loyal person. I suppose it’s flattering that Middlesex have shown some interest, but I’ve not spoken to them.”
Perhaps Anyon should have had another wicket on Sunday. Ant Botha, at gully, was unable to cling on to a tough chance offered by David Hemp on 29 and the fourth-wicket pair went on to add 107 runs.
How expensive that miss could be remains to be seen. Glamorgan still required 16 more to make Warwickshire bat again at the time, but now have a lead of 48 with six wickets in hand. While the possibility of a Warwickshire defeat still looks mighty distant — this is far too good a batting track for that — the danger of Glamorgan’s batsmen establishing a safe position is more realistic. Jamie Dalrymple resumes this morning on 52 and will be the key wicket.
Still, Warwickshire will resume on the final day as overwhelming favourites to go back to the top of the table. Glamorgan are hardly the form side of county cricket at present and their batting is paper thin. They’ve now been forced to follow-on in their last three Championship games and lost the two before this by an innings. Indeed, only a week ago against Leicestershire, they were bowled out in a session.
At least it took three sessions to take ten of their wickets. Any chances they had of avoiding the follow-on were soon ended as Alex Wharf was undone by a decent outswinger, Robert Croft played-on off a timid defensive prod and Mark Wallace was well caught down the legside as he glanced at a poorly-directed delivery. Jason Gillespie wafted at a wide ball before David Harrison chopped on. That left Glamorgan 173-runs behind on first innings and the issue of enforcing the follow-on a formality.
The hosts batted a little better second time round, but three wickets to 28 rocked them once again. Matthew Wood, set up by several that left him, was trapped by one that nipped back, before Gareth Rees played back when he should have been forward and Michael Powell’s footless poke was punished by an inside edge on to the stumps. And when David Hemp edged one angled across him in Jonathan Trott’s first over, it left Warwickshire firmly on top
That Warwickshire are in any sort of position to think of victory is largely due to the efforts of their captain, Ian Westwood. Westwood (176, 337 balls, 21 fours) battled for more than seven-and-a-half hours in coming within two of a career-best score. Although dropped on 70, Westwood showed the determination and patience that convinced Giles and co. to stick with him during his early season travails.
Meanwhile, Warwickshire are cautiously optimistic that Chris Martin will take part in their opening Twenty20 Cup match here on Wednesday.
The New Zealand seamer has now signed his deal and is just awaiting a work permit; a situation that will necessitate a trip abroad so he can re-enter the country again.
As he is not, at present, a member of the New Zealand limited-overs side, he is not currently due to play in either the Champions Trophy or on their tour of Pakistan in August. That means he should be available to Warwickshire for the rest of the season, though New Zealand Cricket have limited his labour to 20 overs per-day in the championship and no more than 34 overs in two days.
With Ian Bell and Tim Ambrose also available to play in the first Twenty20 game, Warwickshire’s chances in what many players now consider the most important domestic competition are looking much brighter than they did a week or two ago.
It is, perhaps, just as well that Ambrose is available, as both Warwickshire’s other keepers are struggling with injuries. Tony Frost further damaged the little finger on his right hand when catching Wallace and will have an x-ray today, while Richard Johnson stepped in for him behind the stumps for much of Sunday and badly injured his thumb.
“Frosty is the most likely to keep on the final day,” Giles said, “and it may well be that we have to look at the loan situation.”