Teenage prospect Alex Horton is set to make his Wales NC championship debut at Oswestry this weekend as Wales take on Shropshire in the second round of games of the NCCA Division 2 Championship. The talented keeper batter from Newbridge became the youngest player to ever play for Wales NC back in 2018 aged just 15 during the T20 competition against Wiltshire at Wimborne. Since then, he has signed a long term contract with Glamorgan in 2020, was instrumental in England U19s run to the World Cup final earlier this year, made his Vitality Blast debut a few weeks ago and just this week made his first 2nd XI hundred against Gloucestershire.
With Glamorgan having no 2nd XI cricket this week, Sunday's clash is a good opportunity for Horton to get some time in the middle alongside rookie contracted off spinner Tegid Phillips and Wales NC's own Tom Bevan who emergence into Glamorgan's Vitality Blast squad (and debut) in recent weeks has made him sporadically unavailable. Missing from the pulsating affair against Devon this week are fast bowler Ben Morris and Callum Nicholls - both of whom are on Wales U18s KO duty - that paves a return to the side for seam duo Tomos Jones and Osama Subhan who last played for Wales in 2019 against Oxfordshire at Usk in the absence of Sam Jardine (tight hamstring). Debutant Josef Davies makes way unluckily for Phillips.
CAPTION (Huw Evans Agency): Alex Horton will make his first Wales NC appearance since 2019.
It certainly a debut to remember for the 21 year old from Ammanford who helped rescue Wales from 121-6 on Day 1 to 255 all out, smashing 54 off 51 balls (including four maximums) before taking his maiden national counties wicket on the third day to win the game for Wales when Devon's tail-enders has brought them to within 6 runs of victory. Undoubtedly Wales will see him again before too long! Wales did owe their victory almost all to the returning Brad Wadlan who completed a remarkable all round performance. The 33 year old all-rounder - unavailable thus far this season until now - shared in the stand of 83 with Davies before reaching his century. Wadlan wasn't finished yet however, proceeding to 6-18 in Devon's first innings reply of 194, and further 6-53 in the second innings giving him match figures of 12-71. They surpass the 11-34 taken by Callum Taylor in 2017 against Shropshire and the 11-78 taken by Ruaidhri Smith against Shropshire in 2014 to make them the best figures in Wales NC history.
CAPTION (Carl Robertson Photos): Brad Wadlan & Josef Davies in discussion during Wales' first innings.
Skipper Cam Herring will be all too aware however that the Welsh batting was largely reliant on Wadlan with only Davies and Morgan Bevans (44) in the second innings chipping in with contributions of note. He commented, "it was good to get the win for sure, but we know we will need to improve if we want to get back to back wins and take a foothold in this group, and especially against Shropshire who are always strong. The win was largely down to Brad's performances but it was good to see others chip across the three days - Josef Davies in particular which really changed the momentum of the first day. It was a really tight game throughout which definitely tested my decision making, but pleasing to see some of that pay off! That was our first win in red ball cricket in three years and hopefully Horts, Bevs and Teg coming back in will give us that little bit of extra firepower across all three disciplines."
Indeed, it was the quick thinking of the skipper that turned the course of the chase early on Day 3, as he threw down the stumps standing back to run out former Welsh bowler Kaz Syzmanski and partly made up for the unlucky dismissal which came via the pads of Devon's Adam Small at short leg before finding its way back to left arm spinner Fahad Sabir. Records are still being searched to conclude if Wales have been involved in a tighter championship game than this week since they began in 1988, and furthermore to ascertain when Wales won back-to-back three day games. They go into Sunday with that aspiration though despite being up against former Glamorgan all rounder Graham Wagg.
Play starts from 11am on Sunday at Oswestry and admittance is free.
Wales NC squad from: TR Bevan (St Fagans), HLR Friend (Newport), CR Brown (Lansdown), BL Wadlan (Swansea), MJ Bevans (Newport), AJ Horton (Newbridge/Newport), CL Herring+* (Pontarddulais), TD Phillips (Cardiff), SJ Pearce (Bridgend/Warminster), MO Subhan (Cardiff), JS Foulkes (St Asaph), TL Jones (Bridgend).
CAPTION: Skipper Cam Herring knows his team need to improve despite their win this week.