Let’s Get Associated!

I’m currently reading The Selection Room by Peter Della Penna. The book revolves around the selection, performance and post tournament careers of a number of trialists attempting to get into an ICC Americas XI that competed in the West Indies domestic 50-over competition.

Could a similar idea work elsewhere to help promote cricket in Europe, Africa or anywhere else in the world?

It would probably make sense to focus on the T20 format. That’s the logical vehicle that is helping get the game going in many corners of the world. Most nations now have international status in said format.

Could a squad of fifteen players from the likes of Sweden, Germany and Greece compete in England’s T20 competition… or even two teams if we need to stick to round numbers?

Could players from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria compete in South African cricket? Namibia certainly have done. Could the Big Bash accommodate a team consisting of players from Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji? They seem set on introducing two new teams so maybe alongside a new city based team, an Oceania Associate XI could be introduced. The same could be done in one or two leagues in Asia with players from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea etc comprising a team. Just imagine a Chinese player taking a prize wicket in the PSL or a Spaniard striking a six-laden fifty in England’s T20 Blast. Such performances would make headlines and inspire kids across the globe to start playing cricket.

The franchise circuit is there and could truly be filled with players from across the globe. That would then lead to national T20 teams from Mexico to Malaysia getting stronger and to cricket having a proper T20I WORLD Cup!

For too long cricket has given with one hand but taken with the other when it comes to developing the sport across the globe. This could be a fantastic opportunity to unearth talent, change lives and gets kids (And adults!) in Israel, Chad and who knows where, picking up a cricket bat. Imagine a Japanese guy performing for an Asian Associate XI in the BPL then getting a contract in the CPL or Big Bash, then playing for Japan against West Indies or Australia in a T20I series, then playing in the T20I World Cup, gaining fans for him, his team and the sport all along the way. Stars would be born!

It may be that a team could have two/three players from a Test playing nation in their squad to provide experience and pass on knowledge. So say for example a European Associate XI with players from Czech Republic and Italy etc are competing in the T20 Blast. They might be able to recruit a player who is looking to move into coaching, an out of contract player or even a full international, just to make sure that some quality is there and like I say, help develop players throughout the continent.

Another vehicle might be an FA Cup style competition, well, with some sort of group stage to guarantee the Associate team at least a few games. Maybe it could be a Europe XI and World XI competing in the T20 Blast. Maybe the Irish league could have a team feature in their T20 competition. Heck, they’ve only got three teams!

There must be so much talent out there, so much opportunity. At the risk of being a bit corporate, untapped markets could become, well… tapped!

What do you think? How would you help cricket grow around the globe? Do you even want cricket to grow or are you content with watching the same players from the same countries?

Cricket 19: Wales Tour of USA – T20I Leg Results

1st T20I

Wales 126-9 (20) Edwards 35, Thomas 21, Schmidt 11/Suarez 2-10, Alvarez 2-18, North 2-19

USA 118 (19.3) Alvarez 31, Trujillo 24, Sanders 17/E.Williams 4-5, Khan 3-24, Alexander 2-32

Won by 8 runs

Our seemingly underwhelming innings of 126-9 was built around knocks from opener Aled Edwards (35) and in-form Rhodri Thomas (21). Dwayne Alexander (9*), who hadn’t shown his best with the bat on tour, struck two boundaries late in the piece that would later prove crucial.

USA were 101-3 in pursuit of the target but collapsed to 118 all out! Leg spinner Eifion Williams was 3-0 at one stage and finished with astonishing figures of 4-5 to seal the deal, just as he had done in the Netherlands. Wicketkeeper Thomas claimed five catches in an innings for the third consecutive full international (ODI/T20I) on this tour. A couple of players held their nerves for some crucial catches on the boundary too.

2nd T20I

USA 127-7 (20) Trujillo 44, Sanders 27, Alvarez 18/Khan 3-26, Hughes 2-5, Evans 2-28

Wales 104-7 (20) Schmidt 22, Duke 19, Davies 12*/North 3-20, Suarez 2-9, Kennedy 1-14

Lost by 23 runs

Having won the toss, we opted to bowl first in order to challenge ourselves. This turned out to be a regrettable decision and we need to be far more ruthless in the future!

As was the case in the first match, we fought back to restrict USA to an at best par total. Having been extremely well set at 98-2, they finished on just 127-7. Their total included a 21-run over bowled by fast bowler Dwayne Alexander where USA opener Steven Sanders struck five successive fours. Spinners Maxwell Khan (3-26) and Cai Hughes (2-5) did their usual however to apply the brakes.

Come our pursuit, our inexperienced top order batsmen Steffan Schmidt (22) and Marcus Duke (19) both made career best scores. However the two left-handers used up far too many deliveries getting there. That put the rest of our batting unit under huge pressure in what should’ve been a routine chase. The pair will have to develop methods to score quicker and… quickly!

USA didn’t concede the excessive amount of extras that they had in the previous match and fair play to them. Sanders came into the side mid-tour and made a huge difference at the top of the order. Even if he didn’t make substantial scores, he set the tempo. What we’d give to have somebody like him at the top of our order.

It was a disappointing defeat to bookend the tour with losses but all in all, much was gained from our trip to America.

Cricket 19: Wales Tour of USA – ODI Leg Results

1st ODI

Wales 254-9 (50.0) Roberts 46, Edwards 42, Shah 36/Napier 3-39, North 2-35, Jeffries 1-27

USA 211-9 (50.00) Kennedy 56*, Trujillo 35, Pittman 33/Khan 4-27, E. Williams 1-14, Evans 1-29

Won by 43 runs

An opening stand of 82 by Shah and Edwards, two fours and a six from Roberts, our top seven batsmen all making double figures, off-spinner Khan striking with the first delivery of each of his first two overs, leg-spinner E. Williams conceding just 14 runs from his ten overs and all six bowlers used claiming at least one wicket… saw us bounce back from the Test drubbing and go 1-0 up in the ODI series.

2nd ODI

Wales 188 (36.2) Thomas 54*, E.Williams 34, Hughes 28/Kennedy 4-28, Jeffries 2-15, North 2-41

USA 173 (45.2) Trujillo 64, Morrison 26, North 20/E.Williams 4-22, Alexander 2-15, Evans 2-48

Won by 15 runs

We recovered from 44-5 to post 188 then bowled out USA for 173 after they’d been 80-2 and 129-4. Despite dropping Trujillo on 38, Alexander later stepping over the rope when taking a catch and some atrocious fielding from our fatigued bowlers, we secured a second consecutive ODI series win with a game to spare. Wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas, having top scored with 54 not out, held no less than six catches in the match.

3rd ODI

USA 220-8 (50.0) Trujillo 88, Sanders 33, Napier 25*/Hughes 3-14, Khan 2-5, Roberts 1-22

Wales 181 (36.1) Thomas 34*(?), Shah 30, E.Williams 29/Suarez 5-16, North (?) 2-??, Hampton 1-21

Lost by 39 runs

Won the series 2-1

Having already won the series, we opted to field first in order to challenge ourselves. USA made use of us resting opening bowler Rhys Evans and utilising some part-time bowlers to reach 124-2 before slow-left-armer Cai Hughes (3-14) turned the tide. He claimed the prize scalp of Trujillo (88) as the hosts collapsed to 174-8. Gloveman Rhodri Thomas added another five catches to his tour tally but an unbroken stand of 46 between host captain Napier (25*) and Kennedy (17*) lifted USA to a competitive total.

We then collapsed from 55-0 to 181 all out and that was despite the help of 29 extras! USA made three changes to their playing XI and the incoming personnel made their team stronger. Though we didn’t succumb to a rash of poor shots, I was extremely disappointed with our batting collapse. In hindsight, we should’ve batted first, in which case I’m confident that we would’ve clinched a series whitewash. Remember that we also reduced USA to 174-8 only to allow them to reach 220.

Despite defeat in the final match, it was an excellent second successive ODI series win having previously beaten England. We’ve only lost ODIs once we’ve assumed an unassailable lead. It was our first series win of any kind away from home and an excellent riposte following our poor show in the Test match. Now it’s onto two T20Is in what should be some close encounters.

Disclaimer: Sorry but I had some serious issues with uploading photos following an iPhone update which also led to me losing the third ODI scorecard, hence it’s got a few ???. Also, I’ve never actually seen that film in full!

Cricket 19: Sinking Across the Pond!

For our first overseas Test, we made one change from the XI that opposed England in our inaugural five-day encounter. Batsmen Bryn Jones, who made an excellent 66 in our warm-up match, came into the side at the expense of opening bowler Osain Williams. Jones, an opener by trade, who batted at three (Then nine) in the practice game, had to contend himself with a place at number five in the order. That meant a reshuffle with off-spinning all-rounder Maxwell Khan a little unfortunate to drop down from number five to eight. The remainder of the batting line-up all dropped down a place.

Captain Ioan Powell won the toss and had no hesitation in choosing to bat first. We’d seen how the pitch had performed in the warm-up match and with three genuine spinners in our line-up, wanted to allow the surface to deteriorate as much as possible and leave the home side to chase.

Wales 149 (37.2) Edwards 57, Shah 53, Thomas 11/Pittman 5-10, Jeffries 2-10, North 2-8

Opening batsmen Stephen Shah and Aled Edwards began the day by making hay on the field of play. The duo brought up their nation’s first ever century stand at international level to be exactly 100-0 at drinks. Not long after however, USA brought spin into the equation and that literally turned the game. After an over or two of prodding, Shah (53) survived an LBW review only to edge to the wicketkeeper off the following delivery. Edwards (57) survived a little longer before he edged to slip off the spinner bowling from the other end. The pair had done tremendously well to achieve an opening partnership of 110 and though they soon fell to spin, they didn’t get out wafting and the pitch was offering assistance to turners.

Dylan Roberts, our best batsman on the international scene to date but having not played in the warm-up match, soon followed for just 7, edged and caught at slip. Debutante Bryn Jones, having performed so well in the tour game, was then flummoxed by the surprising introduction of a pace bowler, one who didn’t bowl particularly fast. Jones defended a delivery that he could’ve left and like many before him, was out caught at slip, in his case for just 2. Eifion Williams, who had a poor practice game but whose spin bowling skills made sure that he was retained in the Test XI, was bowled by spin for just 1, meaning that he hadn’t reached double figures in three innings since arriving Stateside.

Skipper Powell and wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas reached lunch at 133-5. A somewhat disappointing score having been 110-0. First ball after the interval, Powell (5) edged behind but it didn’t carry. Second ball after the interval, he edged behind again… and it did carry! Maxwell Khan (6) soon followed, adjudged LBW on review having not offered a shot. Cai Hughes was bowled for a duck in the same over before Dwayne Alexander slapped one straight to the fielder first ball! Rhodri Thomas (11) was bowled in the next over.

We’d collapsed from 110-0 to 149 all out, primarily at the hands of spin with one of their bowlers claiming 5-10. It was an embarrassing collapse after messrs Shah and Edwards had made such an encouraging start. The only other positive was that the performance of the home spinners provided our own turning threesome with huge optimism.

USA 420-7 dec. (110.00) Morrison 114, Trujillo 96, Potter 71/E.Williams 3-76, Hughes 3-132, Jones 0-2

Despite a good standard of bowling from opening bowlers Rhys Evans and Dwayne Alexander, USA reached 31-0 at thirst quenching. Cue the introduction of spin. Despite beating the bat on numerous occasions, USA ascended to 71-0 at the interval.

Finally, with the score on 131, slow left-armer Cai Hughes, bowling around the wicket to the right-hander, made the breakthrough by bowling Martin The Wizard Potter for 71. The Wizard would wave his wand no longer, at least not in this innings.

The home side progressed to 189-1 with Potter’s opening partner JJ Morrison on 91, however left-arm pacer Evans knocked over his stumps with a sensational inswinging yorker… off a NO BALL! Minutes later, overthrows took Morrison from 95 to 99.

USA closed the day on 209-1, a lead of 52 and Morrison sleeping one run shy of a century on Test debut. For us and our travelling fans, a day that had begun with such promise, saw us staring down a possible innings defeat. This having won the toss and been 110-0!

On day two, we agreed to put the opening day behind us, enjoy ourselves and bowl out the home side. Again, both Alexander (0-47) and Evans (0-63) were genuinely unfortunate not to take a wicket. Morrison soon brought up a fantastic ton in his country’s first ever Test and fair play to him. Eifion Williams eventually terminated Morrison’s (114) excellent knock courtesy of a catch by gloveman Thomas with the score 253-2. At that stage USA already led by over 100 runs. Number three Stuart Trujillo feasted on Cai Hughes bowling but with the game already well out of reach, captain Ioan Powell made the brave call to persist with the slow left-armer. The decision reaped dividends when Hughes had Trujillo (96) edge behind just four runs short of joining his teammate Morrison in registering a debut Test ton.

That left USA 299-3 but a middle order collapse ensued and they were soon 308-5. Firstly, Williams struck again by bowling Pittman (3) then Alexander ran Jeffries (21) out via an incredible direct hit from deep in the outfield. At lunch on the second day, USA were 325-5, a lead of 176.

Post bagels and OJ, Jackson North and Henry Wilks batted well in tandem to take USA to 345-6. North (21), who batted with reasonable intent, became Williams (3-76) third victim when he dragged onto his stumps. Wilks continued with Rufus Suarez for company and the pair put on fifty to take the hosts past 400. Suarez was adjudged LBW off Hughes when on 30 but successfully reviewed. Incredibly, following an eleventh maiden from Williams, Hughes (3-76) then took out Suarez’s middle stump the very next ball he faced after overturning the LBW decision.

Wilks (53*) went past fifty and USA were 271 runs in the black on 420-7 at tea. Just as we prepared to come out and mop up the tail, we were informed that the hosts had opted to declare. Openers Stephen Shah and Aled Edwards put their pads on.

Wales 127 (23.0) Powell 40, Jones 33, Edwards 16/Suarez 5-33, Pittman 2-14, Napier 2-35

To just the second delivery of our second innings, we lost Shah without scoring. Fellow opener Edwards and the promoted Jones then moved comfortably to 28-1 before an all to familiar dismissal for Edwards. On 16, he wafted outside off stump and was caught by that man Morrison with the gloves.

Jones, promoted up the order having done well in the tour game and to try and make life easier for an undercooked Roberts, looked a quality player whilst compiling a partnership of 46 with his captain. Having made a run-a-ball 33 however, he feathered an unnecessary push outside off stump to slip. Skipper Powell, having walked to the crease with just eleven runs in three Test innings, finally displayed some of his undoubted quality with the bat. The left-hander made a really important 40 both for him personally and the team. His innings included three boundaries before he dragged onto his stumps when trying to cut.

From 94-4 an alarming trend of incompetent wafts outside off stump saw us capitulate to just 127 all out on the third day. Change right-arm pacer Rufus Suarez (5-33) accounted for Williams (1), Thomas (3) and Khan first ball. Having already accounted for Jones, Suarez would complete a debut Test fifer by having Alexander (8) caught behind, a fourth catch of the innings for Man of the Match Morrison. Alexander had at least hit the first ball that he had faced for 6!

Despite an optimistic review, Cai Hughes (1) was LBW to spinner Pittman’s first ball of the innings. Then, not for the first time in his career, last man Roberts (15) was bowled by spin (Pittman again!) when opting to leave the ball. Pittman finished the match with figures of 7-24. Clearly we need to improve against spin but lost wickets all too regularly against pace in the second innings as well.

Lost by an innings and 144 runs

At 93-3, though still a long way behind in the match, the likes of Edwards, Jones, Powell and later Roberts, all briefly looked the part in Test cricket. The lower order failed to apply themselves as they are capable off though and our batsmen have to find ways to turn starts into scores of real substance… and fast!

We won the toss and were 110-0… but lost by an innings!

Congratulations to USA who thoroughly deserved their maiden Test win and left us still seeking ours. Though we’ve done well in white-ball cricket thus far, we’ll desperately need to up our game to compete with the home side in the upcoming ODIs/T20Is.

Due South!

With the help of a little shuffling (Resting/rotation), Liam Livingstone and Lewis Gregory are included in the England ODI squad for the white-ball only tour of South Africa.

I’ve long been a fan of the oxymoronic named Livingstone. He’s a fantastic all-round cricketer who has performed well in all facets of the game in all formats of the game. He’s done well in county cricket, on the franchise circuit and with England Lions, despite his path to those destinations been one less traveled.

Yes he didn’t quite get going when in full colours before but he’s now a much more experienced player, a potential match winner and as he’s shown as a substitute, an excellent fielder.

Gregory has underwhelmed in his T20I appearances. He wasn’t provided with much responsibility against New Zealand and didn’t seize his opportunities against Australia. It’s fair to see him provided with potential further opportunities though.

Jake Ball comes in out of the cold, well, sort of. He’s officially a reserve. He did well in the T20 Blast and though has been known to be particularly expensive for England, I always felt that he was up against it after continually being carried around as 12th man.

Full squads are below:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/30249069/jofra-archer-ben-stokes-sam-curran-rested-england-odi-squad-south-africa

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Cricket 19: Wales Tour of USA Squad Announcement

The Wales squads for the tour of USA that consists of a two-day warm-up match, one Test, three ODIs and two T20Is are as follows:

Test squad: Stephen Shah, Aled Edwards, Dylan Roberts, Ioan Powell (Captain), Maxwell Khan, Eifion Williams, Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Bryn Jones, Marcus Duke (Wicketkeeper), Jesse Morgan, Phillip Fish

ODI squad: Stephen Shah, Aled Edwards, Dylan Roberts, Ioan Powell (Captain), Maxwell Khan, Eifion Williams, Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Marcus Duke (Wicketkeeper), Seth Davies, Morgan Price

T20I squad: Steffan Schmidt, Aled Edwards, Marcus Duke, Ioan Powell (Captain), Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Eifion Williams, Seth Davies, Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Maxwell Khan, Morgan Price, James O’Neill

Cricket 19: Finding Netherland!

T20I tour of Netherlands.

1st T20I

Netherlands 134-6 (20.0) Schmidt 39*, Claessens 32, Long 32/E.Williams 2-27, Evans 2-34, O.Williams 1-22

Wales 100 (18.2) Thomas 24, Edwards 19, Evans 10/Keene 5-21, Stokes 2-16, Vargas 1-16

Lost by 34 runs

2nd T20I

Wales 131-7 (20.0) Thomas 23, Powell 22, E. Williams 20/van Keulen 3-27, Vargas 1-15, Zweers 1-19

Netherlands 129-6 (20.0) Beelen 32, Long 28, Vargas 24*/Evans 2-31, Hughes 1-8, Davies 1-20

Won by 2 runs

Drew the series 1-1

There’s not a lot to say about the first match. We simply weren’t good enough, were given a rude awakening and deserved to lose. We learnt fast however and come the second game, raised ours!

Opening batsman Stephen Shah and off-spinning all-rounder Maxwell Khan made way, replaced by debutantes Steffan Schmidt and Seth Davies. Batsmen Marcus Duke kept his place after debuting in the opening match.

After sluggishly accumulating only 100 runs for the loss of all ten wickets in the first T20I, we posted an improved 131-7 having chosen to bat in the second. Wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas, promoted to number five, top scored for the second match in a row. He put on 30 with captain Ioan Powell (22), though the skipper foolishly ran himself out. Eifion Williams (20) was the next highest scorer. The total was still some way short of the sort of scores that we’ve set our sights on but we new it was enough to provide us with a chance of levelling the series. It was only just less than the Dutch had posted in the first match and this time they’d be under scoreboard pressure!

Osain Williams (1-27) and debutante Seth Davies (1-20), both made breakthroughs. The latter having far more luck than he had done on ODI debut when nothing had gone his way. Sadly, left-arm pacer Rhys Evans, who had performed so well in the Test match against England, bowled seven wides in the innings! After a third wicket fifty partnership however, he struck twice in his final over to turn the game. Credit must go to captain Powell for sticking by his opening bowler. Evans’ (2-31) adventure continued to ebb and flow though, much to the chagrin of fast bowler Dwayne Alexander. Alexander thought he’d pretty much won the game when he got in on the wicket taking act but Evans fell apart in the field, committing mis-field after mis-field to ruin Alexander’s (1-36) figures and keep the hosts in the game. Mercurial slow left-armer Cai Hughes (3-0-8-1) bowled outstandingly however to leave the Dutch requiring ten from the final over.

Step up leg-spinner Eifion Williams for his first bowl of the match! He promptly got hit for four off his premier delivery but the home side could only manage two runs from the next three. With Netherlands needing four to win, would you believe Williams (1-0-7-0) lobbed up a wide (Our 10th of the innings!). He kept his composure though to follow up with two dots and seal a sensational first ever T20I victory for his country.

This short and ultimately successful tour was important for our development. We displayed great character to bounce back and win the second game but in truth, were fortunate to some degree. Having managed a reasonable improvement with the bat, Thomas being the best of an at best mediocre bunch, we bowled far too many wides and committed an alarming amount of fumbles and mis-fields that very nearly cost us dear. Marcus Duke, a wicketkeeper by trade, was a mixed bag in the field though Aled Edwards was a dime. The less said about Evans in the field the better but we did hold our catches in the second match.

Next we travel across the Atlantic for an exciting and immersive tour of USA. We’ll play a two-day friendly followed by one Test, three ODIs and two T20Is. We hope to see some Welsh shirts in the crowd!

Disclaimer: It’s highly likely that I’ve used the above headline before when playing a previous Don Bradman/Ashes game… but I couldn’t think of anything better even though I like to avoid repeating headlines. Sorry!

Cricket 19: Failing the First Test!

Following our hugely encouraging start to life in white-ball cricket, eleven men took to the field in Wales and upon doing so, assumed the honour of becoming the nation’s first ever Test cricketers. Captain Ioan Powell won the toss and led his men out in front of a packed and passionate home crowd. The hosting skipper hoped that his bowlers could exploit the conditions following a delayed start due to rain. England’s opening batsmen strode to the wicket as Test cricket’s most experienced nation commenced battle with its newest inductee.

England 253 (78.3) Broad 49, Burns 48, Root 44/Khan 3-28, E.Williams 3-32, Evans 2-61

Experienced England may be, they looked anything but when Keaton Jennings (1) was run out early in the piece. Left-arm pace bowler Rhys Evans (2-61), who effected the run out, then had the pleasure of taking our first proper wicket, when he got Jonny Bairstow (26) to edge behind to wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas.

Part-time medium pacer Dylan Roberts (1-10) then struck with his first ball in international cricket. Rory Burns (48), who up to that point had looked in good touch, nicked behind to Thomas before forlornly trudging back to the sheds.

Captain Joe Root (44) alongside Ben Stokes (30) then batted well and looked to be batting England into a commanding position. The duo combined for 63 but both fell with the score on 160. Jos Buttler (2) and Chris Woakes (4) soon followed at the hands of leg-spinner Eifion Williams (3-32). At that point the tourists had slumped from 160-3 to 171-7.

Following the clatter of wickets, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad applied themselves extremely well in a partnership of 58 to frustrate our side. Broad was particularly effective when sweeping the spinners. Off-spinner Maxwell Khan managed to oust Archer (29) late in the day before England closed on 232-8.

It had been a riveting and engrossing first day of Test cricket and left everybody, players and fans, craving more!

On day two, Khan (3-28) soon wrapped up the England innings. First he trapped James Anderson (5) LBW. Then he had top scorer Broad (49) hole out to the one and only fielder on the leg side. We’d bowled England out for 253, an outstanding effort in our first innings in Test cricket.

Wales 152 (28.2) Roberts 59, Thomas 42, E.Williams 18/Leach 5-8, Broad 4-39, Anderson 1-39

Our opening batsmen both got off the mark in James Anderson’s first over. Sadly however, our Test bow quickly turned sour when Stuart Broad rolled his arm over. Not content with sweeping 49 runs, he tempted Stephen Shah (2) to edge a delivery that he needn’t have played at. Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler dived full stretch and down low to claim an outstanding grab. Two balls later, an ill-disciplined Aled Edwards (1) wafted away to give the Broad/Buttler combo a second wicket. Captain Ioan Powell then suffered the ignominy of registering a golden duck on Test debut. Fortunately, teenager Maxwell Khan then managed to see out the remainder of the over without further damage. Unfortunately he couldn’t see out the following James Anderson over and as a result, we were in dire straits at 9-4! By lunch, we’d progressed to 12-4.

Our phlegmatic number three, Dylan Roberts and enigmatic number six, Eifion Williams, then applied themselves superbly to save us from complete ignominy. The pair posted 44 before Williams joined the Broad/Buttler procession. Possibly surprised by the bounce, he probably didn’t need to play at the delivery. From there, gloveman Rhodri Thomas knuckled down alongside Roberts. By the time beverages were served, the duo had helped haul us from the depths of despair on debut to a far more respectable 92-5.

Roberts and Thomas took their partnership to 62 before the former made a regrettable decision. After scoring a single from spinner Jack Leach’s first delivery then watching from the non-striker’s end as the Somerset man turned the ball away from the batsman, he opted to leave the first delivery of the Leach’s second over. The ball promptly spun the other way, stumps shattered and Roberts was gone. Still, after posting two fifties in the ODI series, Roberts (59) had looked like a batsman of Test calibre to rescue his team from the undesirable score of 9-4.

Cai Hughes (5) then failed to overturn an LBW decision as Leach and England turned the screw. Dwayne Alexander (15), who attacked briefly, Rhys Evans (0), who suffered the same fate as his skipper, and finally Thomas (42), who had batted extremely well, all fell to Leach, as he claimed astonishing figures of 5-8. Jofra Archer didn’t even bowl!

We finished 152 all out from only 28.2 overs but having been 9-4, it was a commendable effort in our first ever Test innings. In truth, we probably over achieved in the ODI series and facing the likes of Anderson and Broad with a red ball, not to mention Leach, taught us some harsh truths!

England 334 (95.3) Jennings 81, Buttler 61, Burns 59/Evans 3-70, Hughes 2-49, Powell 1-6

England then cemented their authority courtesy of a far too easy 93-run opening stand between lefties Burns and Jennings. Not long before the close, leggie Eifion Williams (1-61) did at least force Burns (59) to drag onto his stumps but by the end of day two, England had moved to 105-1, a lead of 206.

Day three started like the two before it, delayed because of rain!

Jennings and Bairstow then ploughed on into the middle session before we effected a mini-fightback. First, Rhys Evans had Jennings (81) nick to slip, then he accounted for Root (12), caught behind. In between, Bairstow (39), was run out via a direct hit from Cai Hughes. England had stuttered from 173-1 to 196-4 but the lead had swelled to over 300.

Stokes (19) and the more assertive Buttler then steadied England with a fifty partnership before the former edged to slip. His dismissal ended an unusually subdued innings and provided Hughes with a maiden Test wicket. At tea on day three, England were 264-5, the small matter of 364 runs ahead!

Not content with one wicket, Hughes (2-49) promptly doubled his tally immediately after tea. The left-arm spinner had Woakes (1) caught behind to the very first delivery of the evening session. He was unlucky not to send Jofra Archer packing too. Buttler soon passed fifty however but failed to convert. Captain Ioan Powell boldly chose to take the new ball and just three deliveries later, Evans (3-70) had his third innings of the wicket when Buttler (61) swung wildly and edged to Thomas.

Archer (21) then needlessly ran himself out. Hughes the thrower from the deep once again! Captain Powell (1-6) then returned for a trundle and should’ve had James Anderson LBW as his first Test wicket. The umpire wasn’t in the mood however but did at least give Broad (20) out in the same over. Express pace bowler Dwayne Alexander (1-53) did then tempt the officials to adjudge Anderson (14) LBW as he too claimed a maiden Test victim. Sadly, opening bowler Osain Williams remained wicketless just as in the first innings. His match figures read 31-1-97-0. We had however performed admirably to restrict England to 335 after they had been 173-1. Unfortunately, that still left us requiring 436 to win!

Wales 198 (44.4) Hughes 31, Khan 30, Thomas 24/Broad 3-41, Archer 2-22, Anderson 2-37

Only four over remained in the day’s play but sadly Aled Edwards (8) couldn’t survive. The left-hander was caught at slip by Jennings off the bowling of Anderson in the third over. Stephen Shah and Dylan Roberts made it to the close on 25-1.

After yet another rain delay and negating a James Anderson over on day four, Shah (17) was trapped plumb LBW in Broad’s first over of the morning. He’d looked comfortable up to that point but was done for pace and even a review couldn’t save him. Captain Ioan Powell, on a pair, strode to the crease with his team 33-2.

The skipper avoided the ignominy of a pair on Test debut but when his team needed their leader to set the standard, he played a horrible drive, away from his body to the last ball of a Broad over and trudged back to the pavilion with only six runs to his name. Roberts (20) then soon edged Archer’s first ball of the match (?!) to leave us in peril at 56-4. Another brief little partnership ensued but just as things were looking up, Eifion Williams (5) defended a ball that he could’ve left and feathered Archer (2-22) to Buttler, giving the Sussex man two wickets in as many overs. That left us 74-5.

Maxwell Khan (30) compiled 41 with wicketkeeper Thomas but like too many batsmen before him, edged a ball that he didn’t need to play at. After bedding in and surviving Jack Leach’s first over, Khan was possibly looking to up the tempo when just plodding on against the returning Anderson (2-37) would’ve been better.

Thomas was another who couldn’t resist the corridor of uncertainty. To be fair to the wicketkeeper, his was probably a little narrower as Leach (1-26) probed for what would be a first wicket of the innings. Thomas (24) could hold his head up high however after an excellent effort both with bat and gloves on Test bow.

Cai Hughes and Dwayne Alexander then put together another partnership of sorts. Alexander (22) chopped onto his stumps however with the score on 149 to gift Chris Woakes his first wicket of the Test. After yet another mini-partnership, Woakes (2-56) accounted for innings top scorer Hughes (39) before Broad (3-41) wrapped up the match by having Evans (22) nick to slip. Our total of 198 from 44.4 overs was a healthy improvement on our first innings effort both in terms of runs scored and duration. From 74-5 we achieved 198. In fact, in our second innings seven of our dismissed batsmen reached double figures. Our lower order put some of our specialist batsmen to shame. It was just frustrating that with so many players getting starts, nobody passed 31. Seven batsmen were dismissed between 17 and 31.

Lost by 237 runs

Despite what looks a thumping loss on the face of it, we performed admirably in our first ever Test. Against a full strength England side, we bravely chose to bowl, dismissed them for sub 300, recovered from 9-4 to score 152, hauled them back from 173-1 to 334 then improved second time around with the bat. It won’t get much tougher than facing England in those conditions. Thank you to all those who supported the Welsh team in the country’s inaugural Test match.

Next up is likely a short T20I tour of the Netherlands. Look out for a report from the continent soon.

Cricket 19: Welsh One-Day Wizards!

After tasting defeat in our inaugural Twenty20 International, please read below for details of how our first One-Day International series played out. All matches were played at The Stadium of Wales.

1st ODI:

Wales 273 (49.5) E.Williams 78*, Roberts 55, Powell 39/Stokes 4-42, Archer 3-37, Rashid 2-59

A brace of boundaries from opener Aled Edwards (16) got us going but we were indebted to a third-wicket partnership of 80 between Dylan Roberts (55) and captain Ioan Powell (39) to lay the foundations of our innings. Teenager Maxwell Khan (22) fought hard before Eifion Williams (78*) scored at more than run-a-ball. Jofra Archer (3-37) struck twice in two balls to limit our chances of posting 300 but last man Osain Williams (14) added 34 with his namesake to take us to a respectable 273. This of course against the world champions in our first ever ODI.

England 240 (48.3) Root 57, Moeen 56, Bairstow 31/O.Williams 3-34, R. Evans 3-56, E. Williams 1-34

Just as in our inaugural T20I, right-arm pace bowler Osain Williams (3-44) bowled Jason Roy (9) for Wales’ first ever ODI wicket. Jonny Bairstow (31) was needlessly run out and to the following delivery, left-arm pacer Rhys Evans (3-56) bowled England skipper Eoin Morgan for a golden duck. Despite excellent innings from Joe Root (57) and Moeen Ali (56), we regularly kept England in check. When wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas took a sensational catch off the bowling of Evans to dismiss Chris Woakes (20) at the start of the powerplay, the writing was on the wall. When he did the same off last man Adil Rashid (11), we’d won our first ever ODI by 33 runs. Remember that our last wicket stand contributed 34.

There were emotional scenes as tears flowed both on and off the pitch in a small but sold out stadium. An outstanding team performance had resulted in victory over the reigning world champions in our nation’s first ever ODI. There were however, two more matches to be played in the series.

Won by 33 runs

2nd ODI:

England 141-7 (33.4) Buttler 54, Woakes 33*, Root 13/O.Williams 4-39, Hughes 2-27, R.Evans 1-36

England called correctly and despite the raindrops, chose to bat. When they found themselves 47-5 then 69-6, you can assume that they regretted that decision! Osain Williams (4-39) bowled outstandingly. Among his victims were, for the third time in three consecutive internationals, his rabbit Roy, Jason Roy (6).

Jos Buttler set about rescuing the visitors and compiled a fifty partnership with Chris Woakes (33*). Buttler (54) survived a shocking LBW decision when on 38 off the bowling of slow-left-armer Cai Hughes (2-27). He would eventually fall however in that fashion to said bowler. The rain then got heavier and despite an attempt to get back out on the field of play, England’s innings ended on 141-7 from 33.4 overs.

Wales 135-5 (27.1) Edwards 66*, Shah 31, E.Williams 22*/Stokes 3-16, Moeen 1-25, S.Curran 0-16

Our opening batsmen set about achieving a seismic series win with minimal fuss. The right-hand left-hand combo of Stephen Shah and Aled Edwards pretty much got us halfway there with a partnership of 71. Shah (31) edged behind to Buttler off the final delivery of Moeen Ali’s (1-25) first over however and that sparked a terrifying collapse!

Dwayne Alexander (4) was promoted up the order to raise the tempo and get us safely ahead of the required run rate. He promptly struck his first ball from Ben Stokes for four but holed out the very next delivery off the same bowler. Dylan Roberts (1) and captain Ioan Powell (0) both edged to Eoin Morgan at slip off the bowling of the outstanding Stokes (3-16) during a sensational double wicket maiden from the Durham all-rounder. When Maxwell Khan (5) was run out, we’d slipped from 71-0 to 95-5 and were at serious risk of throwing away a first ever ODI series win.

Amongst all the carnage however, Edwards was unfazed. He was joined by first match hero Eifion Williams in an assured and undefeated partnership of 40. Williams finished 22 not out from 18 deliveries whilst the impregnable Edwards carried his bat for 66 not out from 84 balls with 19 deliveries of the innings remaining.

The Welsh crowd couldn’t contain themselves and burst onto the playing surface. England captain Eoin Morgan and his team were gracious in defeat. We’d beaten the reigning world champions in our first two One-Day Internationals in a ground-breaking series win that reverberated around a now bigger cricketing world.

Won by 5 wickets

3rd ODI:

England 299-5 (50) Root 162, Morgan 61, Billings 26/Evans 4-73, Khan 1-37, Hughes 0-25

Despite England having reached 91 by the fall of the second wicket, off-spinner Maxwell Khan’s first at international level, we hadn’t let England get away from us. However, a third-wicket stand of 129 by two England captains changed that. Test skipper Joe Root struck 162 high calibre runs from only 139 deliveries, meanwhile ODI leader Eoin Morgan was at his dynamic best, striking 61 innovative runs. Left-arm pacer Rhys Evans (4-73) dug deep to claim career best figures but wickets were hard to come by for the rest of our attack.

How debutante Rhys Davies (10-1-42-0) walked off the pitch wicketless was difficult to comprehend. Two LBW decisions that should’ve gone his way didn’t and a couple of catches off his right-arm medium bowling also went to ground. Fellow debutante, left-arm pacer Morgan Price (7-0-52-0) found life much harder. He kept plugging away however and claimed a good catch to terminate Morgan’s knock. Ben Stokes (16*) and Moeen Ali (17*) helped England set a total of a run-a-ball to defend.

Wales 204 (43.1) Roberts 64, Hughes 27*, Thomas 24/T. Curran 4-50, Archer 2-27, Wood 1-23

Tom Curran, brought into the visiting side at the expense of his brother, soon had us on the back foot in our run chase. The Surrey man accounted for both openers, Edwards (11) and Shah (14) as well as captain Powell (3). Despite middle order wickets continuing to fall, including young Price (8) to complete a difficult debut, Dylan Roberts (64) persevered to reach fifty for the second time in the series. Sadly, he would soon become Curran’s (4-50) fourth wicket of the innings.

Wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas (24), spinner Cai Hughes (27*) and debutante Seth Davies (17) helped haul us from 104-5 to 198-7 but we were always clutching at straws in regards to the required run rate. We lost our final three wickets for just 6 runs to succumb to 204 all out and a 95-run defeat.

Credit to England, they were superior in all departments and thoroughly deserved to win. Not for the first time, a lack of oomph in our batting was cruelly exploited.

Lost by 95 runs

Win the series 2-1

The result in the third ODI didn’t prevent us from winning the series though. After losing the T20I, a 2-1 win against the reigning world champions in our first ever ODI series is something to be extremely proud of. There were contributions from throughout our squad and much to build on.

Next up, it’s our inaugural Test match. Look out for a full match report at the conclusion of the historic event. After seeing the way that the limited overs matches have played out, it should be a good contest!