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Bowlers on song at Swansea

The batsmen found the going tough on the first day of the LV=CC game between Glamorgan and Leicestershire at Swansea.

There was no sign of any struggle as Greg Smith (40, 57b) and Niall O’Brien (29, 57b) were putting on 67 for the first wicket but County were dismissed for 203 in 77.5 overs as Michael Hogan claimed 5-43.

Leading wicket-taker Ollie Freckingham (8-4-12-2) and Alex Wyatt (8-1-23-1) then hit back in style by reducing the hosts to 36-3 at stumps.

Credit must also go to two debutants for their respective counties as they made a favourable impression.

Ben Raine’s 37 (94b) was the second highest score for Leicestershire while off-spinner Andrew Salter picked up a wicket with his first ball in first-class cricket for Glamorgan.

With a St Helen’s pitch that tends to offer encouragement to the spinners, Matthew Boyce won the toss and unsurprisingly elected to bat. Raine was handed a first game in Leicestershire colours while Josh Cobb came in to bolster the batting line-up and offer Boyce a second spin option.

The duo were brought in for Michael Thornely and Matthew Hoggard, while Glamorgan selected Salter to pair up with Dean Cosker. There was also an enforced change as Marcus North missed out through injury.

Five Leicestershire batsmen made between 26 and 40 but nobody was able to go on to post a huge score as Glamorgan plugged away on an overcast day on the West Wales coast.

The County openers battled hard in the face of some accurate bowling, picking up the occasional four. Smith drove the first boundary of the day through backward point in the second over of the day bowled by Graham Wagg and O’Brien also found the fence in the sixth over.

Runs then started to come more freely, Smith taking four off Jim Allenby in his opening over before O’Brien hit two consecutive boundaries off Wagg in the 10th over, including a well-struck pull.

Smith found the third man boundary in successive Allenby (15-1-55-0) deliveries in the next over, and two consecutive off-driven fours off the same bowler in the 14th over took the stand beyond 50.

O’Brien drove Allenby down the ground to collect his fourth boundary and the slow left arm of Cosker was introduced in the 17th over. The move of pace from one end and spin from the other paid dividends as both openers fell in quick succession.

Smith was snared lbw by Hogan with the score on 67 and although O’Brien drove Cosker through the covers for four, the spinner had the batsman caught by Hogan at point and County were now 71-2.

That paired Leicestershire’s leading first-class scorers together in Eckersley and Thakor. Although Eckersley started superbly by striking five fours in the space of six overs, including four well-timed strokes through the on side, there was a big moment for Salter.

The youngster became the third player to take a wicket with his first ball in Championship cricket for Glamorgan as he found Thakor’s (6, 19b) edge, Mark Wallace completing the dismissal.

Spin twins Salter and Cosker continued to operate until lunch and Leicestershire went in on 113-3 with Eckersley unbeaten on 31 and Boyce five. It was pretty much honours even at that point but Glamorgan seized control after the break, with Hogan taking the lead role.

The tall Australian seamer claimed three victims in the space of three overs, the first of those taking him to the magic 50 mark. Key man Eckersley fell lbw offering no stroke for 36 (61b), so he requires a further 104 runs to reach 1,000 for the summer.

Wells (0, 2b) was also pinned in front later in the 40th over and although Cobb found the boundary twice, he was snapped up by Allenby at first slip after scoring 10 (11b). That meant the debutant was coming to the wicket with County struggling on 137-6.

Boyce picked up four off Allenby but he and Raine were generally content to accumulate patiently, which was the right approach given the situation. The left-handed duo had started to develop a stand but the return of Wagg (12-2-30-1) accounted for Boyce, who was bowled after a battling 26 off 86 deliveries.

Raine played an excellent stroke through mid-on to pick up a boundary and also drove to the fence behind square on the off side. Freckingham fought hard alongside Raine and County went to tea on 181-7 off 66 overs.

But Glamorgan were excellent after tea, with Hogan and Salter conceding just one run in the first seven overs of the final session. A wicket also fell in that period as Freckingham (5, 46b) became the fourth batsman to be trapped in front by Hogan, who now had his five-for.

Runs were at a premium but Raine and James Sykes were rewarded for their patient approach in the 73rd over, seven coming off Hogan to break a sequence of four maidens.

Cosker came on in place of Hogan and his first delivery was struck to the ropes by Raine, who was now into the thirties. Raine also drove Salter (18-8-34-2) for four but he was bowled by the fellow debutant two balls later with County one run short of a batting point.

A single from Wyatt (4*, 7b) took County to that mark but Sykes (3, 27b) was the last man to go as Murray Goodwin took a catch off Cosker (13.5-2-39-2). Rain came between the innings to delay the Glamorgan reply for a short time, and the new ball duo then got County off to a good start.

The seamer picked up his 33rd first-class wicket of the season as Gareth Rees edged behind to O’Brien and Will Bragg was pinned in front by Wyatt. That meant Glamorgan were 21-2 in the fifth over and that situation worsened as Ben Wright edged the on-song Freckingham to Smith.

Goodwin (12*) and Chris Cooke (5*) then battled through the rest of the day against some excellent bowling and Glamorgan will therefore resume 167 behind with seven first innings wickets intact.


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