Circling Vultures

A couple of afternoons at Taunton gave me the opportunity to see Somerset confirm their promotion to Division One of the County Championship and to take a first look at the seventeen year-old Glamorgan seamer James Harris, who's taken an impressive number of wickets in his first season in the county game.

The table before the game didn't lie and Glamorgan were comprehensively thrashed by a confident, unified and driven Somerset team, under the unobtrusively forceful and experienced guidance of Justin Langer. Just ten years ago to the month Glamorgan themselves secured the title at Taunton - and there was just one division then - but it's now hard to conceive of when the Welsh county will ever win anything again.

However, in this age of multiple overseas players they continue to rely on homegrown products, and, if they can hang on to Harris and produce a few more like him they might just be able to find a way back.

Harris clearly has a lot of physical filling out to do, but his opening spell on Friday afternoon, when he sent Neil Edwards and Marcus Trescothick back to the pavilion in quick succession, was distinctly impressive. He has a smooth, straight approach to the crease, a good, high, delivery stride and the ability to move the ball both ways off the pitch. It seems to me that he needs to inject a bit more pace and urgency into his run-up and this will encourage him to follow through more and give him extra pace. However, with what already appears to be good control of line and length you feel that the rest will come in time.

These days, though, when a county such as Glamorgan produces a player with the promise of Harris, the vultures start to circle almost immediately. While Glamorgan are already wealthier than some, and are going to join the select group of counties which stage Tests when Australia come to Cardiff in 2009, there is an increasing gap in playing standards, and, in many cases, salaries, between first and second division cricket. The traditionalist in me was very disappointed by the recent news that Stuart Broad, a cricketer of immense promise nurtured by Leicestershire, had signed for Nottinghamshire, a club which, although Broad's father played for them and they can doubtless offer him a far higher salary than Leicestershire can, haven't even assured themselves of a return to the first division yet. Leicestershire suffered similarly when Luke Wright joined Sussex, and, while I also think it would be a pity if a genuine transfer market developed in cricket, you can't help feeling that counties such as Leicestershire deserve some financial compensation when their players are picked off by rivals with greater financial power.

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