In a season where the dark horse has come to the fore and prevailed, Glamorgan will be aiming to continue that trend and lift their first piece of silverware in nearly a decade when they face the much-fancied Nottinghamshire Outlaws in the Yorkshire Bank 40 Final at Lord's on Saturday.
In a season where the dark horse has come to the fore and prevailed, Glamorgan will be aiming to continue that trend and lift their first piece of silverware in nearly a decade when they face the much-fancied Nottinghamshire Outlaws in the Yorkshire Bank 40 final at Lord's on Saturday.
The 2013 season, an action-packed, captivating and eventful six months, will come to a fitting conclusion at the Home of Cricket for what is traditionally the showpiece event of the county cricket calendar. However, this will be the final game in the current format before the return of the English 50-over domestic competition next summer – and <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/ecb40-league/Glamorgan-v-Nottinghamshire-5776161.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>cricket betting odds</b></a> couldn't be more favourable for an apt finish.
Northamptonshire defied the odds to win the Friends Life t20 competition while Durham, who were many people's favourites to be relegated, lifted the LV County Championship trophy. It's been a season for the underdog and the Yorkshire Bank 40 has followed suit.
Having endured a couple of unstable years both on and off the field and found themselves in the cricketing wilderness with each season bringing the same disappointments and failure as the previous, Glamorgan's road to Lord's has been a tedious and arduous one .
With the tag of perennial underachievers hanging over the Swalec Stadium, a couple of shrewd signings have changed their fortunes with the white-ball and no matter what the result on Saturday, the Dragons can take some heart from a campaign which has seen them reach just their third one-day final at the Home of Cricket.
Having overcome last year's winners and firm favourites Hampshire in the semi-final as well as qualifying from the group stages by the skin of their teeth, Glamorgan are accustomed to being written off and former England bowler Simon Jones believes the underdog tag will suit them.
"This is our year I feel. I'm really confident the way the changing room is," said Jones.
"I think whoever we played we would have been underdogs. It's just the nature of the beast. Glamorgan have been known as the whipping boys for the last five or six years, but we have played some good cricket." The fast-bowler admitted.
"We have had a couple of tough years. People have been critical of us but rightly so. [Now] we are going into the game nice and confident and looking forward to enjoying the occasion.
While Nottinghamshire are firm favourites and can boast a squad full of household international names, their one-day trophy cabinet is as dusty as their opponents. Saturday will mark the Outlaws' first appearance in a Lord's showpiece for 24 years while the last time they tasted success in the shorter format was back in 1991.
There's a feeling among the Trent Bridge faithful that with the ammunition and resources at the disposal of Mick Newell, they have underachieved in the limited-overs format despite getting themselves into a strong position year after year. However, victory at Lord's on Saturday could act as the catalyst needed to convert their four-day success in 2005 and 2010 into consistent domination, which a squad of that caliber are more than capable of.
Notts go into the game full of confidence after crushing Somerset in the semi-final and will be confident of putting their indifferent Championship form behind them to taste their first one-day final success since the 1989 Benson and Hedges Cup. Captain and wicket-keeper Chris Read isn't taking anything for granted but believes they can lift the blue riband trophy.
"I've always said that the two Championship victories were two of the best days in my cricketing career, but I have always been open about my desire to win a one-day trophy," he said.
"It's been a long time for this club I have been here a long time and the opportunities have passed us by in T20 and in other 40 or 45 over competitions where we've come close.
"We will be going all out to not just enjoy the day, but to pick up the trophy. It's a great day full stop, but it's a damn sight better when you come away as winners."
This Saturday's contest will mark the 50th anniversary of the first limited overs final staged at Lord's – the 1963 Gillette Cup Final in which a Sussex side led by Ted Dexter narrowly beat Worcestershire by just 14 runs.
Last year's Lord's One-Day final was an equally close-fought affair that went down to the final ball with Hampshire beating Warwickshire by dint of losing fewer wickets after the scores were tied.
<b>Key Men</b><br>The key components to Glamorgan's success has been the performances of their hostile bowling attack with overseas signing Michael Hogan leading the competition's wicket-taking charts and Simon Jones acting as an able ally, while all-rounder Jim Allenby has played several match-winning innings with both bat and ball. The Dragons have certainly punched above their weight this season and while their side contains mainly industrious, hard-working professionals, they've struck a winning formula with the talent at their disposal.
Unlike their opponents, it's quite difficult to choose a potential stand-out performer from Matthew Mott's side because of their unpredictable nature but Chris Cooke has enjoyed another fruitful season at number three, having scored five hundred runs in this competition alone. The South-African born batsman is <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/ecb40-league/Glamorgan-v-Nottinghamshire-5776161.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>7/2 with the bookmakers to be Glamorgan's top run-scorer</b></a>.
On paper and, for the most part in practice, Nottinghamshire's batting line-up is the strongest in the country. With international stars everywhere you look, they should have enough firepower to overcome the challenge of any opposition but as we all know, the game isn't played on paper.
However, it's been the unsung players who have contributed in equal measure during this campaign to date and one such player is Steven Mullaney. The all-rounder has become a Trent Bridge stalwart and his medium-pace bowling contains plenty of guile and deception, bringing him 17 wickets and going at under give an over. He's now mug with the willow either and is 4/1 to be top wicket-taker on Saturday.
<b>Probable Teams</b><br>Glamorgan have unsurprisingly named an unchanged 13-man squad from the one that defeated holders Hampshire in the semi-final with 19-year-old Ruaidhri Smith and all-rounder Nick James likely to miss out at the Home of Cricket.
<i>Glamorgan:</i> Gareth Rees, Mark Wallace, Chris Cooke, Jim Allenby, Murray Goodwin, Ben Wright, Graham Wagg, Andrew Salter, Dean Cosker, Michael Hogan, Simon Jones.
The Outlaws have been significantly boosted by the availability of England duo Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann with both expected to play a pivotal role
England look to level the series.
“I should have been facing coming into the last over with six to win.”
“He’s got an unbelievable record which I’d love to have.”
Praise from Caesar for Jofra Archer.
Let’s have less Rain Stopped Play and more Play Continued Through Rain.
What is the actual plan here, lads?
“No more runs!” roars the captain with a dismissive wave of the hand.
This week’s Numberwang will make you feel old. Unless you’re 16.