Croft hat-trick condemns Gloucs
Glamorgan’s LV= County Championship promotion charge gathered momentum as they beat neighbours Gloucestershire by 176 runs inside three days at Cheltenham.
Set a notional 345 to win, the home side were shot out for 168 in their second innings, undone by an inspired spell of swing bowling from England Lions star James Harris and a first hat-trick from veteran spinner Robert Croft.
The youngest player to be capped by Glamorgan, 20-year-old Harris ripped through Gloucestershire’s top order in a burst of three wickets for five runs in 25 balls.
Glamorgna’s 20-point haul lifted them above Northamptonshire and into second place in Division Two behind Sussex.
Gloucestershire must be sick of the sight of Harris, who claimed 12 wickets in only his second first-class match to send them tumbling to defeat at Bristol in 2007.
Croft erased the tail in one fell swoop, in the process becoming the first Glamorgan spinner to claim a hat-trick since Don Sheppard achieved the feat against Hampshire at Swansea in 1964. He finished with impressive figures of 4-20 in 6.3 overs.
This defeat leaves Gloucestershire fourth in the table and still searching for their first championship win at the Cheltenham Festival since Sussex were defeated at the College Ground in 2001.
Upwardly-mobile Glamorgan were always in the ascendancy once wicketkeeper Mark Wallace had registered his ninth first-class century to propel the visitors to 371 in their second innings.
Gloucestershire’s top order has been their Achilles heel throughout the season and so it proved on this occasion, a solid start evaporating in the space of 8.2 overs after lunch, during which time the home side lurched from 51 without loss to 60 for five.
Just as he did in the first innings, Will Porterfield played himself in, scoring a breezy 41, only to fall to a loose shot, wafting outside off stump to be caught at first slip off Harris.
Having offered stubborn resistance in scratching 10 runs from 51 balls, Jon Batty was put out of his misery by a Harris inswinger that clattered into his stumps via an inside edge.
Hamish Marshall departed in the next over, caught at the wicket as Huw Waters got in on the act.
Harris then trapped Gloucestershire captain Alex Gidman in his crease, while Waters swung one into James Franklin, who became the game’s 16th lbw victim.
Captain Jamie Dalrymple then turned to his spinners to press home Glamorgan’s advantage and England Under-19 left-hander Chris Dent succumbed to temptation, charging Croft and comprehensively stumped as Gloucestershire slipped to 94 for six.
Waters returned after tea to have Jon Lewis held at second slip for 24 and Croft engineered a premature end to proceedings, removing Vikram Banerjee, Gemaal Hussain and Steve Kirby with consecutive deliveries from the College Lawn end.
Glamorgan had added a further 88 in 21 overs during the morning session to establish a lead of match-winning proportions.
Having contributed an innings-reviving 72 on the first day, Wallace again starred, reaching three figures from 116 balls, with 13 fours and a six.
He eventually fell to the second new ball for 113, giving the impressive Hussain figures of 3-60.