Cricket Wales / Criced Cymru Seniors is defined as the age groups over the ages of 60 and 70, as distinct from Wales 50s, though we maintain a close relationship with that organisation to the extent of sometimes arranging joint activities, including tours.
Wales has had an over 60s cricket team for the past twelve years, since its inception in 2009. It emerged naturally out of the Wales over 50s side, which has now been in existence for almost thirty years. All around England and Wales, as players reached the age of 60 and generally lost their places in their 50s teams, counties set up 60s sides and a national championship structure was launched. Exactly the same development subsequently occurred as players reached the age of 70 and, accordingly, Wales has had a 70s team for four years, since 2017, again playing in a similar national competition.
The Wales 60s 1st team has always played in the south-west zone of the national championship with minor changes over the years. Regular opponents have been Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Devon and at various times Worcestershire, Hampshire and Cornwall. The top two in any group move on to the knock-out last 16 stage. Rarely has the Wales 60s 1st team failed to qualify for the latter stages of the competition. The best season was reaching the final in 2014 (and losing to Kent).
Wales 60s 2nd XI has been in existence for nine years, since 2012, again playing in a south-west group but also generally including Worcestershire and Warwickshire. Again, the side has been very successful over the past decade, winning the national championship twice – in 2015 and in 2021, and losing in the final in 2019.
This past season has been the first time Wales has fielded a 3rd XI (an ‘A’ team) and it has proved a major success. There is no fully structured national competition at this level as yet but the team played a large number of fixtures, travelled far and wide, and proved invincible.
On its formation in 2017 the Wales 70s team initially played a programme of friendly matches. The success of that venture led to the entry of two separate 70s sides into leagues the following year, as well as friendly games. The 70s 1st team has since played in the national county championship, while the 70s A team has participated in a western region competition.
Since inception, Wales Seniors has always attracted players from across the whole of south Wales, from the Severn Bridge to Pembrokeshire, and we currently reach into central Wales. We also have some members from north Wales, though obviously the practicalities of travelling make full participation in our activities extremely difficult. Nevertheless, we are confident that clubs and individuals in this region are well aware of the existence of Wales Seniors Cricket and of the opportunities to play good quality competitive cricket at veteran level. We very much want our teams to be truly representative of the whole of Wales. Accordingly, some of our venues for home matches have in recent years ventured further north and west – including Brecon, Builth Wells, Newtown, Llandysul and Aberystwyth.
Players can join the seniors’ cricket organisation at 59, although there are limitations on how many of that particular age can be included in championship matches. From there on, players continue to turn out for as long as their ageing bodies allow. Currently we still have the remarkably sprightly and wonderfully enthusiastic John Storey turning out regularly well into his 80s.
Over the years Wales Seniors have played friendly matches against club youth and senior sides and more prestigious games against England and touring Australian states and on several occasions its national team. We also have an annual fixture against the Wales Women’s Development Squad.
Wales 60s have played England XIs on various occasions throughout the past decade and now seems set to be an established part of the fixture programme: matches were played home and away in 2021. Next season there are plans for three Wales 70s games against England – the first time such games have been played at that age level.
On any visit to the UK by a touring Australia 60s squad, Wales is seen as a significant fixture with our visitors viewing it as another ‘international’, with caps awarded in the same way as against England, and these matches have involved national anthems and post-match formalities (involving food and drink, speeches and Welsh choral entertainment).
In turn, Wales players have been selected to represent England at home and abroad. Ryland Wallace toured Australia in 2016 with England 60s and Richard Harris toured there in 2019, playing in all three matches of that ‘Grey Ashes’ series. Ron Walton toured Australia with England 70s in 2015 and Peter Betteley in 2018, both gaining international caps.
There have also been plenty of opportunities for other members to play abroad by going on Wales Seniors’ tours – in recent years to Spain, Portugal, Malta, Cyprus and elsewhere. In April there is a scheduled pre-season Wales 50s and 60s tour to Bermuda for an international tournament.
For the past two years, organisers have planned to stage the inaugural 60s World Cup in Queensland, Australia, but the covid pandemic has forced postponements. Hopefully it will now take place in 2022. The opportunities for seniors’ cricket, it seems, continue to escalate.
In the past decade Wales Seniors’ Cricket has grown and developed to a remarkable degree – from a relatively small and narrow organisation, having just one over 60s team to the very large and vibrant body it now is, comprising nearly 100 members and offering cricket opportunities far and wide to veteran enthusiasts. Remarkably, during most weeks of the season, we put out five different teams, all competing against English counties.
We have a fully organised structure with an annual general meeting, which elects executive officers, a committee and captains, and scrutinizes the yearly accounts. There are committee members responsible for specific subjects – notably, Arthur Cook as welfare officer and Peter Betteley co-ordinating results and guiding us on provision of defibrillators. Committee meetings take place throughout the year, generally meeting monthly.
Increasingly, activities seem to take place during the winter months too, with members seeking to maintain their fitness through mountain walking in groups to indoor nets, some of which start before Christmas. These take place in different regions – at the National Cricket Stadium in Cardiff, at Ebbw Vale Indoor Cricket School and at Neyland Athletic Club.
Wales Cricket / Criced Cymru Seniors sees itself as very much part of the Welsh cricket family. Our members are invariably active in their local clubs by playing, coaching and administrating. Our organisation is also committed to the cause of Welsh cricket, to enhancing its success and reputation. Only recently, we have significantly contributed to Matthew Maynard’s ‘Wellyman Walking’ initiative (an aspect of the ‘Tom Maynard Trust’), aiming to raise money for the provision of children’s net facilities at the National Cricket Stadium in Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. A few participated in the walk itself; but a host of members donated to the cause, enabling us to contribute almost £1,200 to the fund.
Principal Officers, 2009-21:
Chairmen: Ron Walton (Merthyr CC); Peter Docherty (Penarth CC)
Secretaries: Gordon Voke (Subrook CC); Nigel Clayton (Bridgend CC)
Treasurers: Mike Staddon (Mumbles CC); Robert Franklin (Newport Fugitives)
- 60s 1st: Gordon Voke (Sudbrook CC); Mike Staddon (Mumbles CC); Ryland Wallace (Crickhowell CC); Richard Harris (Creselly CC)
- 60s 2nd: Bryan Jones (Gowerton CC); Nick Evans (Narberth CC); Gordon Voke (Sudbrook CC); Ron Walton (Merthyr CC); Alistair Lawson (Cowbridge CC)
- 60s A: Mike Holcombe (Ponthir CC)
- 70s 1st: Martin Llewellyn (Aberystwyth CC); Robin Jones (Machen CC)
- 70s A: Jon Brazier (Cowbridge CC)
As the following captains’ reports for the 2021 season make clear, Wales Seniors is now a significant cricketing organisation, catering for a very large number of players still keen to play the game for competitive and social reasons. If Glamorgan are the ‘Dragons’ of Welsh cricket, we consider ourselves the ‘Dinosaur Dragons’. We may no longer roar, but there are plenty who can still growl.
Ryland Wallace (committee member)