1997: Glamorgan lose their NatWest semi-final at Chelmsford by one wicket

Steve James, seen above in 2001 at Cardiff, who made a fine century in a losing cause at Chelmsford in 1997. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

The Nat West Trophy semi-final between Glamorgan and Essex at Chelmsford was a dramatic encounter, and spilled over into the reserve day after a cliff-hanging end the previous evening.

Morning rain saw the loss of an hour`s play, but despite this interruption, opener Steve James anchored the Glamorgan innings with a fine 109, and shared a century partnership with his close friend Adrian Dale. Tony Cottey also made a gutsy half-century, as Glamorgan`s innings finished on 301-8. If Essex were going to win, they needed a good start, and this is precisely what they got, as Australian Stuart Law and Darren Robinson shared a century opening stand in the first 15 overs, and by the tea-break, Essex appeared well placed at 157-1.

After the interval, Steve Watkin made two important breakthroughs, dismissing Robinson and Nasser Hussain, before Ronnie Irani and Paul Grayson added 61 for the fourth wicket to put Essex back into a favourable position. Matthew Maynard then made another important bowling change, bringing on Darren Thomas, and the young pace bowler took 4/14 in 19 balls to set up an intriguing finale.

But the light was starting to fade, and the tension was mounting – so much so that there was a confrontation, caught by the television cameras between Mark Illot and Robert Croft. With nerves on a knife-edge and Waqar Younis back into the attack, the umpires took the players off the field at 8.10 p.m. with the home side requiring a further six runs from the remaining 41 balls, and Glamorgan two more wickets to win a pulsating contest.

Play resumed the following day, with Waqar Younis completing his over, before Darren Thomas had Tim Hodgson caught behind with his first ball of the day. Essex were 299-9, and striding to the wicket was their number eleven, Peter Such, who had few pretentions as a batsman. But he survived the next four deliveries, before hitting the final ball of the over to the boundary to see Essex home and a place in the final against Warwickshire.

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