Rees and Glamorgan up and running
Gareth Rees’ fine unbeaten century helped Glamorgan break their Clydesdale Bank 40 duck courtesy of a 29-run Duckworth-Lewis victory over Lancashire at Old Trafford.
The opener batted through the innings to make 110 not out off 103 balls, leading a late charge that carried Glamorgan to a testing 231 for five on a reliable surface.
Lancashire lost Stephen Moore to the first ball of their reply, but the good work done by Steven Croft and Karl Brown was soon forgotten as they were among the four wickets to fall for 18 runs in the space of 27 balls.
It was a collapse that ultimately proved decisive. Tottering on 121 for five when bad light and rain forced a second, 50-minute stoppage, Lancashire were never likely to score the 48 needed off three overs thereafter to achieve a target revised for a second time to 173 off 28 overs.
The Lancashire supporters who braved a sudden and vicious early-evening storm on an otherwise glorious day could have few complaints with the result given Glamorgan’s growing dominance, while the visitors can celebrate a first victory in four attempts in this year’s competition.
For that they owe a great deal to Rees. He may not be the most pleasing batsman on the eye - his strokeplay leans more towards muscular than graceful - but the left-hander showed himself capable of shots all around the wicket as he struck nine fours and three sixes.
Dropped on 37 by Stephen Moore, he supplied the calming presence either side of Alviro Petersen and Jim Allenby’s departures for 30 respectively, while Graham Wagg helped add significant impetus during the batting powerplay.
Rees was content to play second fiddle to Petersen during an opening stand of 78 in 18 overs which featured a meaty straight six from the skipper at the expense of James Anderson, who showed signs of rustiness in returning figures of 1-47 after being granted late clearance to play by the ECB.
Lancashire supplied the brakes sufficiently to check the run-rate, and the introduction of Stephen Parry did for Petersen, lbw on the back foot despite the batsman’s concerns over the height.
Allenby helped Rees add 58 for the second wicket in little more than 10 overs, during which Rees, reverse-sweeping, was put down on 37 by Moore at deep point off Simon Kerrigan.
Otherwise, it was a shot which proved productive for Rees, who mixed clever placement with the occasional lusty blow either side of seeing Allenby have his middle stump uprooted by Anderson.
Stewart Walters was comfortably run out after Rees, quite rightly, failed to acknowledge his call for a single to the finer of two backward points, but Rees and Graham Wagg’s response was to wreck Farveez Maharoof's figures by taking 18 off his last over, including a six apiece into the pavilion.
Wagg, coming down the track, perished when he sliced to Croft at backward point, but Rees smote successive sixes off Kerrigan - the latter on to the committee room balcony - en route to a 96-ball century shortly before Ben Wright was stumped charging at Parry, who finished with 3-46.
Lancashire’s response began in the worst possible fashion as Moore edged James Harris’ loosener behind, adding greater value to Croft and Brown’s second-wicket alliance of 91 in 17 overs.
Croft, standing deep in his crease before routinely walking down the pitch, drove admirably straight - Harris and Robert Croft were both hit for glorious straight sixes - while Brown showed his strength square of the wicket.
Having gone to 50 off 53 balls, Steven Croft perished for 52 attempting to drive Allenby - Mark Wallace, standing up, took a smart catch - and much of Lancashire’s momentum had gone.
Will Owen was rewarded for his accuracy with the wickets of Brown, who was bowled for 48 cutting, and Gareth Cross, trapped in front, either side of Allenby pegging back Maharoof’s middle stump.
Lancashire’s already slim prospects all but evaporated after the weather - marvellous for much of the day - intervened, and the fact that Paul Horton fell to Owen - he finished with 3-24 - and Glen Chapple to Harris in the three overs possible after the resumption was of relevance only to the statisticians.