2002: Glamorgan win the National League.

The Glamorgan squad celebrate at Canterbury after winning the National League title. Photo Credit – Glamorgan Cricket Archives.

Glamorgan carved their own niche in county cricket history during 2002 by becoming the first side to win Division One of the National League the year after being winners of Division Two – a record set up in 2001 by eight wins at home, followed in 2002 by a clean sweep away from home. Their success in 2002 culminated in a cliff-hanger of a match against Kent and, as the post-match celebrations began on the pavilion balcony at the St. Lawrence Ground, many comparisons were made with Glamorgan`s  pilgrimage to Canterbury in 1993.

But there were important differences with their previous one-day title, and in fact, there were far closer comparisons with their Championship success in 1997 as the club had opted for an overseas bowler rather than a batsman, as in 1993. Despite the success of Jimmy Maher in 2001, and Matthew Elliott the year before, the Club’s management, including coach John Derrick who had replaced Jeff Hammond, believed that an experienced international bowler was essential, so the man chosen to step into the boots vacated by Steve Watkin was Mike Kasprowicz, the 30 year old seam bowler from Queensland.

Another difference was that Glamorgan were not at full strength for the title-clinching game at Canterbury as Steve James had broken a finger during the match against Worcestershire, and it was Robert Croft, who won an important toss and elected to bat first. Once again, the backbone of the Dragons innings was provided by Michael Powell whose composed innings of 74 from 83 balls saw Glamorgan to 226-7.

For Kent, they had an extra reason for wanting to win as it was their former captain Matthew Fleming`s final game at Canterbury and they wanted to give him the perfect send-off. Despite a tea-time presentation and a flypast from a Spitfire bomber, it was not to be a fairytale end to his career as he was caught by David Hemp in the third over. The pressure on the Kent batsmen was maintained by some lively Glamorgan fielding, plus further probing bowling by David Harrison, who with his fifth delivery, dismissed Rob Key. Croft also switched Andrew Davies to the Pavilion End where, with the final ball of his first over, claimed the prized scalp of Australian Steve Waugh.

But a stand between Mark Ealham and Matthew Walker launched a Kent fightback and whittled away at the target before both fell to Croft. However, Paul Nixon led a lower order rally, before Powell took a fine catch on the boundary to dismiss Geraint Jones, as the equation came down to fifteen off the last twelve balls. Davies then dismissed Alex Loudon and Martin Saggers in successive deliveries, leaving Kent needing ten from the final over.

Up stepped Michael Kasprowicz to bowl what were for Glamorgan the most important six balls for many years. Off the first Nixon edged the ball past the outstretched gloves of Mark Wallace, and the ball sped down to the third man boundary. It looked like being a decisive stroke, but Dale ran around, picked up the ball, and sent an arrow-like return back to the keeper as Nixon came back for a second run.  The diving Wallace whipped off the bails to beat a desperate lunge by Nixon, and after confirmation from the third umpire, the Kent man was run out.

`Kasper` and the rest of the Glamorgan fielders then held their nerve, as James Tredwell and Ben Trott could only scamper three singles, plus a leg bye, and when Trott – ironically the man who Dean Cosker had dismissed at Taunton in their Championship-winning year of 1997 – swung at and missed Kasprowicz` final delivery, the Dragons had secured a four-run victory to win the Division One title .

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