With thanks to Ben Davies (Match Report)
A tremendous all-round team performance earned Wales their first NCCA trophy semi-final appearance since 1996 after they overcame a spirited Herefordshire side by 39 runs at a sun soaked Port Talbot Town CC. Connor Brown’s measured 85 formed the backbone of a competitive 240-8 before the spin twins of Callum Taylor and Steve Reingold ran through the middle and lower order of the Herefordshire reply after a spirited stand of 75 for the 5th wicket between Nick Hammond and David Ball had set up the prospect of a nervy finale.
On a hard true wicket and lightning fast outfield, Wales skipper Andrew Gorvin had no hesitation in electing to bat first after winning the toss. Tom Bevan was in typically belligerent form early on with a quickfire 31 but from 38-0 after 4 overs, Wales then slipped to 67-3 in the 13th over with Ball accounting for both Bevan and Oskar Kolk with two superbly disguised slower balls.
Brown, mixing patience with controlled stroke play, set about building the foundations for Wales’ final total. Stands of 45 with Taylor and then 50 with Cameron Herring had the home side in a strong position going into the final 15 overs. Brown reached his half century from 76 deliveries as the wily left arm spin of Herefordshire skipper Matt Pardoe partially derailed progress with the wickets of Herring and Morgan Bevans.
Gorvin joined Brown in a stand of 41 from 7 overs as Wales passed 200 in the 46th over. After a mammoth stay of two and a half hours, Brown’s superb effort came to an end on 85 as he was caught behind by Bullock, an innings which included 10 boundaries. Gorvin then upped the temp in the closing stages with consecutive fours in the final over as he finished unbeaten on 36 from 34 balls. For Herefordshire, Ball was the standout with superb figures of 4-39 from 10 overs.
Herefordshire would have had high hopes of chasing down 241 with conditions still very much in favour of the batting side but they suffered a crucial early blow when Pardoe was trapped leg before by local boy Richard Edwards with the score on 39 in the 10th over. Connor Smith was the main aggressor in the initial stages with six boundaries out of 31 but the introduction of Gorvin from the Motorway End brought about a dramatic switch in fortunes as he took three wickets in as many overs including the dangerous Smith.
Having slumped to 72-4 in the 21st over, Herefordshire were looking to Hammond and Ball to try and resurrect their victory chances. After a patient start and with the required run rate approaching seven an over, the counter charge was launched with 36 runs coming from 3 overs including the first six of the day from the left handed Ball off Tegid Phillips.
94 from the final 16 overs with six wickets in hand was now eminently within the visitors reach but the match then turned once more as Hammond chipped a simple catch to Taylor at mid wicket off Reingold for 42. The two spinners bowling in tandem then removed any doubt as to the final result as the visitors slumped to 165-9 with the dangerous Ball undone by a quicker delivery from Taylor that skidded on.
James Rudge and Alex Russell extended the entertainment temporarily with a stand of 36 for the last wicket to take Herefordshire past 200 but Reingold then ended the match in the 47th over as Russell chipped back a caught and bowled to spark victory celebrations amongst the Wales contingent. Reingold and Taylor both finished with three wickets and combined figures of 6-88 from 16.4 overs while Gorvin’s 3-14 had been an equally crucial performance earlier in the peace.
Wales now look forward to a home semi-final (ground tbc) against cup holders Berkshire – who overcome Devon with 4 overs to spare at Sidmouth – on Sunday 8th August with the enticing prospect of a first ever NCCA Trophy final appearance the prize awaiting them. Wales lost narrowly to Berkshire in the group stage, with that loss being their only one of the cup campaign this season.
The side will go into tomorrow’s showcase fixture against Glamorgan in good spirits. Greg Holmes returns to the XI to replace Morgan Bevans and Tomos Jones replaces the unavailable Aneurin Norman. Glamorgan seamer and former Wales NC seamer Lukas Carey (last appearance 2016) is due to line up with the amateur side with Glamorgan’s newest overseas recruit Hamish Rutherford in the side for the first class county team. Callum Taylor will swap his Wales NC colours from the weekend back to Glamorgan ones. Sam Pearce will do the opposite and down the Wales NC colours after being involved in the back end of Glamorgan’s T20 Blast campaign.
The fixture will be played behind closed doors, but live ball by ball commentary and video stream will be available on Glamorgan and Cricket Wales channels from 11am.
Wales NC from: SJ Pearce* (Bridgend), TR Bevan (St Fagans), SJ Reingold (Neath), CR Brown, OMD Kolk (both Lansdown), GC Holmes (Cardiff), CL Herring+ (Pontarddulais), AW Gorvin (St Fagans), TD Phillips (Cardiff), RD Edwards (Port Talbot), TL Jones (Bridgend), LJ Carey (Pontarddulais).
Glamorgan CCC from: Hamish Rutherford, Nick Selman, Kiran Carlson, Billy Root, Callum Taylor, Tom Cullen+, James Weighell, Ruaidhri Smith, Roman Walker, Andrew Salter, Michael Hogan, Joe Cooke, Jamie McIlroy.