Great Week For Wales U17 Girls

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Wales Squad U17 Taunton Festival Winners 2013
(Front Row left-right) Ffion Wynne Isobel Day ©, Kelly Rogers, (Second Row left-right) Hannah Thornton, Aimee Hughes, (Third Row left-right) Sara Jenkins, Anwen Morgan, Ellie Hopkins, (Fourth Row left-right) Cerys Thomas, Apporva Aji, Bethan Wilkes (Emily Gully - Absent from photo)

Wales attended the annual U17 Taunton Festival at Kings College with a young side because of a number of injuries and pre-planned family holidays. 

Wales played Kent on the first day of the festival where the temperature was in excess of 30 degrees celsius. Kent won the toss, elected to bat and posted a competitive 153 for 8 from 45 overs. Ffion Wynne (9-4-19-2) and Hannah Thornton (5-1-17-3) were the pick of the Welsh bowlers. Wales were up with the rate throughout their innings: Ellie Hopkins (59) and Cerys Thomas (22) were the main contributors and saw Wales cross the line to win by four wickets with four overs to spare. This was an excellent start to the festival.

On another boiling hot day, Essex were the opponents on Day Two. Wales were pleased to win the toss and bat.  The decision was called into question when Wales slumped to 40 for 6 from 16 overs. The Essex opening bowlers bowled exceptionally well with Lucy Lawless finishing with figures of (9-3-17-3). Wales dug in and a century stand for the seventh wicket from Isobel Day (54*) and Kelly Rogers (40); this saw Wales to a reasonable total of 170 for 7 in their allocation of overs. Essex came out with positive intent in their innings and looked to chase down the total. However, Wales bowled and fielded well. Ffion Wynne (9-4-14-1) and Hannah Thornton (9-3-20-2) the pick of the bowlers for the second day in a row. A superb diving catch by Cerys Thomas on the boundary turned the game towards Wales and another win by 23 runs.

The final day was a big day for the team who had an opportunity to win the Taunton Festival for a record sixth time in ten years by defeating Cornwall.  With an early start (10am) and humid conditions and expecting the ball to swing,Wales elected to bowl. Wales bowled a tight line throughout the Cornwall innings and fielded well to restrict Cornwall to 125 for 5  with Aimee Hughes (5-2-9-0) and Cerys Thomas (5-2-11-2) the pick of the Wales bowlers.

Wales were watchful when chasing the total down and were determined not to suffer a collapse. Cerys Thomas (38), Kelly Rogers (25) and Ffion Wynne (25) were the main contributors. Isobel Day and Bethan Wilkes were at the crease when Wales were victorious by four wickets and festival winners once more. This was a great effort over the three days with a squad of 12 players in exceptional heat; the girls worked incredibly hard and fully deserved to be crowned winners. All the girls were a credit to themselves, their clubs, their families and to Cricket Wales.


(Front Row Left – right) Ffion Wynne, Georgia Parfitt, Isabelle Berry, Emma Davies, Sophie Osbourn, Anwen Morgan, Rose Evans, Isobel Day, (Back Row left – right) Christina Shaw, Ellie Hopkins, Cerys Thomas, Bethan Wilkes

After a couple of days rest the U17 squad travelled to Mays Bounty Basingstoke to compete in the ECB U17 South West Regional T20 competition. With the demanding schedule over the past month the U17 squad had suffered a number of injuries so the Basingstoke squad was made up of five under seventeen’s, six under fifteens and young Sophie Osborn who is under thirteen. The format of the competition was as follows: Wales would play Hampshire on the first morning; Somerset the same afternoon, Devon on the second morning and then the finals on the second afternoon.

The Welsh squad members were all looking a little tired on the first morning after the hotel fire alarm was set off twice in the middle of the night but after a lively warm-up they were ready for their first game. Hampshire won the toss and elected to bat in the first game posting a total of 130 for 6 off their 20 overs. It was a big playing area with a relatively quick outfield. Wales chased down the total with three balls to spare and only one wicket in hand. This was a tense finish but there were contributions from the whole team and a calm innings of 28 by Anwen Morgan saw Wales to their first win.

Somerset were the opponents for the afternoon and a different approach with Wales batting first. An aggressive faultless innings from Ellie Hopkins (94) off 56 balls was a pleasure to watch probably the highlight of the tournament. Ellie was well supported by Cerys Thomas (21) both gave Wales a good total of 164 for 5 off 20 overs. Somerset batted aggressively from ball one and were in the game all the way till the twentieth over. They eventually finished just short on 153 for 6 off 20 overs, giving Wales victory by 11 runs. This had been a great day's cricket after an unsettling nights sleep the night before so it was back to the hotel to try and get some rest before another big day of cricket. As Devon and ourselves had both won two games we would play them in the group stages in the morning and then in the final in the afternoon. With little on the group game in the morning both teams rearranged their batting and bowling orders. Devon batted first and scored 147 for 7 off their 20. Looking very tired Wales slumped to 88 all out.

After some lunch the Wales squad had a good discussion and came up with a plan to take into the final and try to beat Devon. The final was the first game Wales played on the main pitch at Mays Bounty where the outfield was quicker and the wicket was even more batter friendly. Devon won the toss and elected to bat. Devon got off to a good start with Lydia Harris playing shots all around the ground. Ffion Wynne (4-0-22-3) bowled a tight line and made it difficult for other batters to score. The main Devon partnership was between Lydia Harris (60) and Cait O’Keefe (32) saw Devon post a challenging score of 143 for 8 off 20 overs.

At half time the Wales squad decided they were going to be positive, play their shots aggressively and in the words of Ellie Hopkins “Go Hard Or Go Home”. Wales got off to a great start with openers Ffion Wynne (49) and Cerys Thomas (37) hitting the ball regularly to the boundaries and running well putting on 79 for the first wicket off 11 overs. After losing both openers the run rate slowed slightly, Ellie Hopkins (30) played a calm but aggressive innings under immense pressure. She was well assisted by young Georgia Parfitt who ran exceptionally well using her mature cricket brain to always make sure Ellie was on strike. Wales won the game with four balls to spare - an exceptional effort with such a young squad.

Wales will compete in the ECB U17 National T20 finals in Leamington CC on Thursday 29th and Friday 30th August. 
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