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Croft excited by coaching opportunities

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Robert Croft: Linking up with England in South Africa

FORMER Pontarddulais player and current Glamorgan coach Robert Croft admits the prospect of one day guiding his beloved county excites him but admits he is still to decide whether to apply for the vacant head coach role.

Croft will head out to South Africa to link up with the England one-day squad at the end of January after being invited by ECB Team Director Andrew Strauss to join the national team and share his spin bowling expertise. Croft admits he would like to step up to the main role one day, but is unsure if now is the right time. “I have not made any decisions yet because I am aware there is a process in place,” said Croft. “I will discuss it long and hard with my family because they are the most important thing and then I will come up with a decision. “I’m under no illusions that it is a wonderful place to work and it’s a terrific job. I expect there will be a lot of people interested.

“I’m aware of all that and will make my decision in the next week or so and it’s certainly a job that appeals to me at this stage in my career. “I’m sure there will be lots of people interested in coaching at what a wonderful club we have here and in time the decision-makers will make that choice and we’ll wait and see what comes of it. Croft who only retired from playing in September 2012 applied for the head coach role two years ago, but admits he has developed as a coach since then. “I think I have picked up on managing people more,” added Croft. “When I first went into coaching I saw things through a technical and tactical lens, but potentially not through the people management lens. “What I have learned is how much the players already know and coaches don’t always have the answers.

“Crucially also you can’t ignore what I have learned from the senior players here at Glamorgan where we have a very good bunch who are teaching coaches like me every day. “It’s about trying to create the environment where the players can express themselves and bring out the undoubted talent they have. “I have benefited from the last two years and have worked under a couple of head coaches now and had time with Andy Flower last year. “So the bank of knowledge is building up, but it’s a far more difficult job to be coaching than playing. “As a player you are pretty much interested in what you have to do. As a coach you have to be aware of where and how everyone is. “You have to make decisions sometimes that are more difficult than others.”

Away from the Glamorgan position, Croft is relishing his stint in South Africa where he will return to the international stage for the first time since his last England playing appearance in 2001 after being asked to link up with the one-day squad on a secondment. “It’s a 12-day trip to South Africa and I’m so excited about it,” explained Croft, who played 21 Tests and 50 one-day internationals for England between 1996 and 2001. “I had a phone call from Andrew Strauss asking if I’d consider going out and being in the environment for the spinners, primarily to help discuss experiences on the field with them, nothing technical, purely tactical. “Hopefully it will be an experience I will gain from. To go and work with Paul Farbrace and head coach Trevor Bayliss, who have had such success at the highest level, when you think back to the Ashes and also in preparation for the T20 World Cup, it will be nice to bring it back here to Glamorgan. “It will hopefully give me extra lenses to look through at the game of cricket. I’m also looking forward to getting the juices flowing of international sport again to see what that will be like. “I had great years in the England team which luckily coincided with great years in the Glamorgan team. “To get the training top out and get a boost from seeing players do well is what any coach wants. “I’m relishing rolling up my sleeves and getting stuck in and seeing what I can bring to the table.”

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Raiders seal first ever win

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West Wales Raiders 44

Coventry Bears 16

Lucas Marshall, Stebonheath Park,

A LATE rally by Coventry Bears was not enough to deny a jubilant West Wales Raiders their first-ever win at the 45th time of asking.

The old South Wales Ironmen tasted victory against Gloucestershire All Golds in the first match played at Stebonheath Park back in July 2017, but never before have the side won under the Raiders banner. And it was certainly worth the wait as the Raiders dominated much of the game against a Bears side that doesn’t have the best record when travelling to South Wales. The other game the Ironmen won in 2017 was against Coventry, whilst the Bears only won by 10 points at Llanelli last season.

Dewi Billingham made his Coventry debut while trialist Zak Williams made his first appearance since returning to the Bears. But both former Raiders stars were unable to come back to haunt their former employers.

Try time: Raiders celebrate another try. Photo by Darren Harries

Much of the damage was done in the first half with the Raiders taking control from the kick-off and eventually going in 20-0 up at the break.

It took only six minutes for Raiders to break the Bears defence when good work down the left put Dalton Desmond-Walker in for the opener. Phil Cowburn added the extras but was off target just moments later after Ash Bateman was on the end of some quick passing to go in on the right.

When Morgan Evans went in for the Raiders third, again converted by Cowburn, their loyal band of supporters started to believe they were on course for victory.

It could have been even worse for the Bears, but strong defence saw them hold the visitors up over the line on three occasions mid-way through the half. Although there was no denying Archie Snook with one of the final plays of the half after Welsh International Steve Parry had split the Bears defence to put the centre through. Cowburn once again failed with the conversion but the Raiders still celebrated their most positive 40 minutes in almost two years.

After the break, it was the Bears who struck first through Reece Rance, but any hopes of a comeback were soon extinguished by three quick-fire tries.

First, former Bears player Mitch Shaw scooted over, before Bateman and Snook both got their second try of the afternoon to all but secure the victory for the Llanelli-based outfit.

Parry then went in for the Raiders’ eighth try of the day to put the icing on a long-awaited cake.

But the Bears were by no means done and added two further tries of their own to make the scoreline look a little less dominate than the game suggested.

Tries from Errol Carter and South Wales youth system graduate Cobi Green, along with two Joe Sanderson conversions rounded off the scoring for the visitors.

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Dafen see off Porthcawl

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DAFEN Seconds earned their sixth win of the season on Saturday (Jul 6) as they beat Porthcawl by 75 runs.

Porthcawl won the toss and elected to field and they were able to bowl Dafen out for 182.

Opener Oliver Evans made a score of 19 and Chris Randell scored 25 as a number of Dafen batsmen made good starts.

Jonathan Griffiths scored 22 and there were also scores of 15 from Tom Lavender and 16 from Luke Dunning.

Matthew Thomas made a late score of 18 while Andrew Randell top scored with 43 runs.

Nicholas Morgan was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets for the loss of 30 runs from his 6.3 overs.

Mark Bevan also bowled well to finish with figures of 3-37.

Photos by Darren Harries

That set Porthcawl 138 to win but they lost a number of batsmen for single figure scores as they struggled to put runs on the board.

Andrew Randell had Nicholas Morgan caught by Jac Morgan and Matthew Thomas had Rhodri Phillips caught by Chris Randell.

Chris Richards made a score of 13 before he was bowled by Rhys Marchant who then also bowled Rob Warren and had David Lewis caught by Chris Randell, both for ducks.

Tim Richards also fell for a duck when he was caught off the bowling of Matthew Thomas.

Mark Lewis had scored 25 but he also fell to the bowling of Marchant.

Steffan Flood also scored 25 before he was bowled by Chris Randell and Joshua Aubrey added 20 late on before he also fell to the bowling of Randell.

That meant that Porthcawl were all out for 107, giving Dafen seconds an excellent win.

On Saturday (Jul 13), Dafen seconds are away to local rivals Llanelli seconds.

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Rees century sees Llanelli to win

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LLANELLI’s Iwan Rees scored a century on Saturday (Jul 6) to help his side to victory over Briton Ferry Steel.

Briton Ferry won the toss and elected to bat but they were restricted to 186-8 in their innings.

Steven Devonald struck early on to remove Evan Hynes but Lloyd Clement and Jamie Griffiths shared 44 runs for the second wicket.

Jac Rees had Griffiths caught by Craig Howells on a score of 24 and soon after Craig Evans was bowled by Aled Gilley for a duck.

Clement had made a score of 41 but when he was bowled by Rees, the Steel found themselves on 81-4.

That soon became 88-5 as Steve Maddock was caught by Marcus Leaf off the bowling of Gilley.

Photo by Darren Harries

Iwan Rees then had Steffan Evans caught by Howells and Rhys Norgrove fell in similar fashion.

Jason Hughes and Thomas Williams shared 56 runs for the eighth wicket as they looked to give their side a total to defend.

On the last ball Williams was caught by Rees off the bowling of Gilley on a score of 24 which left Hughes not out on 67.

Llanelli openers Iwan Rees and Ioan Phillips shared 42 runs for the first wicket before Phillips was caught by Rhys Norgrove off the bowling of Jay Webb.

That was as good as it got for the Steel though as they were unable to claim any further wickets.

Craig Howells hit seven fours as he finished unbeaten on 53 while Rees starred with 14 fours to finish unbeaten on 104.

The win gives Llanelli 19 points and keeps them third in the table. On Saturday (Jul 13), they travel to local rivals Dafen.

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