Former England all rounder Samit Patel is part of the Oxfordshire squad that head to Pontarddulais on Sunday to take on Wales in the final round of group stage games in the NCCA T20 competition. The 38 year old, who played 6 Tests, 38 ODIs and 18 IT20s alongside 850 appearances in professional cricket joined Jonny Cater's men as the county's professional to help defend their title from last year and add experience to a side that has performed well in the last few years.
Unfortunately for both Oxfordshire and Wales, progression in the tournament is over with Berkshire sealing their finals day spot with a double win over Patel and Oxford last weekend. For Wales, their hopes of progression were more or less sealed without a ball being bowled on Sunday (their second occurrence) against Buckinghamshire as other teams were able to play and register results. It would have needed two thumpings of Bedfordshire on bank holiday Monday to even stand a chance and neither result materialised as former Northants batter and skipper Alex Wakely was the difference between the two sides. Wakely steered his boyhood county, on his home ground of Ampthill Town, to victory in the last over in Game 1 with a composed 63* off 44 balls after Wales had set a competitve total of 142-9. It could have been so much better for Wales after a sparkelling opening stand of 78 between Harry Friend (38) and Cameron Hemp (43) who both looked in fine touch.
CAPTION: Harry Friend looked in fine touch against Bedfordshire, but is unavailable this week with exam study.
Joe Lowe (3-19) and Charlie Thurston (2-22) induced a mammoth collapse in the middle and Wales were indebted to 39 from Morgan Bevans to reach 142 in the end. Ruaidhri Smith (3-27) and Jack Harding (2-23) both collected early wickets for the visitors leaving them 52-4 but Wakely chipped away to bring Bedfordshire home.
Game 2 followed a similar pattern but in reverse with Beds getting off to a fast start thanks to Eddie Ballard and George Thurstance who put on 40 for the first wicket. All the Welsh bowlers took a fair share of some big hitting during the middle with Cam Hemp (2-17) the excpetion to the rule. Rich Edwards collected 3 wickets at the death but Wakely and Archie Houghton saw Beds post an imposing 166. Hemp (28) and Brad Wadlan (30) did the early work for Wales but depsite some late striking from skipper Sam Pearce (30*) and Will Smale (30*) found themsevles 10 runs short.
Sunday represents free pass for both sides who will be keen to utlilise any opportunity to get some competitive match sharpness in before the One Day Trophy begins later this month. Wales will be glad to welcome back Tom Bevan who makes his first appearance for Wales since being awarded a two year professional contract with Glamorgan. Ben Kellaway and Ben Morris are also available and come in for the unavailable Harry Friend and Morgan Bevans who have exams coming up. Jack Harding is rested after a busy week with Glamorgan 2nds XI and Tegid Phillips returns to the squad after a foot injury.
It will be a full Wales NC debut for Henry Hurle. The 18 year old featured during Wales' pre-season plans in 2022 and in the ECB Super 4s last summer, but a blistering start to the South Wales Premier League last week allows him an opportunity to show what he can do on a bigger stage.
CAPTION: Henry Hurle (18) will make a Wales NC debut on the weekend.
Game 1 starts from 11am at Pontarddulais on Sunday with Game 2 commencing from 2.30pm. Both games are hoped to be live streamed.
Wales NC squad from: SJ Pearce* (Lansdown), TR Bevan (Neath), CH Hemp (Swansea), HE Hurle (Cardiff), BL Wadlan (Swansea), BI Kellaway (Bridgend), RAJ Smith (St Fagans), WT Smale+ (Taunton Deane), TD Phillips (Cardiff), RD Edwards (Neath), BJ Morris (Pontarddulais), SBS Jaspal (Ammanford).
Oxfordshire CCC squad from: JP Harrison (Kenilworth Wardens), TPW Condon (Aston Rowant), SR Patel (Knowle & Dorridge), M Campopiano (East Moseley), JA Cater*+ (Great Brickhill), OC Currill (Knowleg & Dorridge), OC Clarke (Banbury), GG Tait (Oxford), PS Chahal (Barnt Green), MTG Mannering (Aston Rowant), KW Penhale (Aston Rowant).