As the curtain comes down on another action packed summer of cricket, we hear a summary from our Regional Leads on the headlines and highlights:
Girls Round Up (Aimee Rees)
The girls winter training program was the largest in terms of numbers so far with more sessions than ever before. The programme had grown by over 50% since 2022. There were U11, U13 and U15 squads in the South, West, East with U11 and U13 teams in the North. The girls’ squads only have one team in each age group there aren’t performance and development like the boys’ squads.
The weather at the start of the season interrupted the outdoor training sessions and some of the early fixtures. The weather improved and we started to see more and more fixtures being played across Wales. All girl’s teams had a minimum of 8 match days, and it was possible to rearrange some of the early rain affected games where some were unfortunately lost to the weather. There were lots of good games of cricket played and there were games which were decided of the last ball which is what we are looking for in terms of learning and development. We saw lots of girls being given the opportunity to contribute with bat, ball, behind the stumps and in the field. We are looking to give as many girls the opportunity to experience batting, bowling and fielding in different positions and during different phases of the game to ensure they develop as multi-disciplinary cricketers.
There were a small number of fixtures played against English counties, but most fixtures were internal which helps us grow the game here in Wales while trying to minimise the cost and travel time for players and parents. The support of coaches, parents and clubs has been significant in this programme and it wouldn’t be growing and developing at the rate it is without this support.
The first ever girls only Aberystwyth festival took place in 2023 for the Under 11 and Under 13 age groups, the festival was a huge success. The festival was interrupted by some weather, but the girls had a great day competing in the “Cricket Olympics”. On the last day the U11 girls got to play alongside girls from different regions when the teams were mixed up to create different challenges for the players. The U13s played a two 15 over innings test match and a 10 over fixture which really allowed the girls to play with freedom and we saw them playing reverse sweeps, ramps all the things they see on TV. CWS U11 and CWN U13 won the spirit of cricket awards at the festival but all the cricket was played in a great spirit. Overall, there was great cricket played, learning opportunities explored, friendships formed, and memories made.
As we look to plan the winter and 2024 summer, we are expecting the girls programme to grow again significantly and will have more selection decisions to make moving forward which is a real positive step forward in the growth of the women and girls’ game in Wales.
Cricket Wales North (Sam Painter)
Overall, we can be very satisfied with the Summer we’ve had - it’s always frustrating when games are cancelled either due to opponents or the weather, however in most cases I’m happy with how the season has played out. The players have really grasped the messages of the coaching staff through the Winter and into the Summer, playing some excellent cricket at times and showcasing their skills. I hope the players have enjoyed it as much as the coaches have enjoyed delivering the programme. It’s always with some sadness at this time of year we say goodbye to our current U15’s, who are in their last year of the regional programme. A heart felt thank you to you all! They've been a great group of players and have been a credit to yourselves and the whole region.
This coming winter we have over 60 nominations for next years under 10’s alone; this is in many ways down to the way all of you guys have played your cricket and in doing so have projected the pathway positively. To the parents my sincere thanks, without you we can’t deliver the programme and I know the amount of travel and time you give is a huge commitment.
The pathway in North Wales is currently on upward curve in terms of its effectiveness in developing good cricketers. A lot of this is due to the hard work of the coaches and the hours and time they put in. Mostly though, it falls onto you the players who work very hard at improving individual games based on the coaching points identified for you. All the teams have either been away on mini tours this year or at festivals. Hope you’ve enjoyed the experience, the half term week of cricket with Cheshire districts went particularly well for the 13’s & 15’s teams, this is something we intend to keep in place for 2024. We hope the Shrewsbury festival will also make a return to the calendar in 2024 for the Under 11’s.
This last season has seen the retirement from regional coaching of Colin Grindey & Paul Roberts. Both have been great servants to regional cricket since the restructure of pathway cricket and before in the old regions of Eyri & North East Wales. You’ll both be missed by the players and coaches. I’m sure all current and past players, would echo my thanks to you both for the time and coaching hours you’ve given up, often without financial gain.
The Winter programme will soon be upon us, and the hard work begins again for the players and coaches. The challenge being to balance your individual and team development with fun and enjoyment in the programme. You’ll always play better cricket when relaxed and free of anxiety. The challenge for us will be to develop a programme which challenges and stretches you, while still allowing you to play with creative freedom.
I’d like to thank all the coaches who’ve delivered on the pathway over the last 12 months, all the cricket clubs who’ve hosted us up North. The grounds are always presented well and with a warm welcome for our opponents. Finally, to our sponsors Route Media for their continued support of the region.
Cricket Wales South (Andrew Walker)
Following the winter training program, we were met with some adverse weather at the start of our summer fixtures. It is amazing how many of our clubs were able to get fixtures on and it is a big thanks to all our clubs in supporting us and the development of children within the pathway. Our 2 x U10s squads, were able to play all their fixtures that were organised with games against Wiltshire, Dorset and Millfield School being added to the summer program to allow for new experiences and learnings to be had. This created development opportunities in games against new players and opposition. The Abersytwyth festival was a great experience for all players involved, where many memories have been made and new friends created across different regions.
We had 2 squads in our U11s. Our Development squad had fixtures cancelled at the end of the summer due to weather and one abandoned. Fixtures against Wiltshire Development, Cricket Wales West and Cathedral school provided a platform for the team to develop and learn. There were some hard games, but pleasingly the team stuck to roles and with a winter program ahead this should bode well for future progression. We did see our Performance squad travel to the Suffolk festival for the first time in again some difficult fixtures against Norfolk and Cambridgeshire which created some great learnings and focus for development future years especially in the longer format. Wiltshire games provided 2 great games of Cricket throughout the summer both home and away.
Our U12 Development team were the most affected by weather during the summer with most of their games being cancelled after an exciting start against West Wales where the game went to the last 2 overs. Our other U12 team had a very warm welcome at Millfield School in the early part of their summer calendar with over 400 runs scored during the day in 70 overs. This squad also went to the Suffolk festival over 6 days in which created learning opportunities but memories both off and on the field of play.
The U13s had some exciting games of cricket especially games in July against the West and North regions for the Performance. A close game against Dorset in May provided a platform for learnings. It was great to observe all players contributing to this age group and players interchanging between squads as development occurs at different rates. The development team had some great performances against other regional teams and although Wiltshire provided tough opposition this created reflection opportunities on areas to improve and develop for future.
South U14s had a fixture list with games against Countys, Schools and other Wales regional teams. There were some very good games of cricket and as the season progressed the players developed into their roles within the team which led to improved team and individual performances. Some of the County teams provided difficult opposition but allowed for learnings to occur both during and post the game. Our last age group of U15s will be unfortunately ending their regional journey with many new players joining the pathway this year and performing well. After a very good winter training program for this group where the quickly had a team ethos and practicing with intent they had some very good performances with some high batting totals and very good bowling displays but very pleasing was the displays in the field. We wish all of this squad well in their cricketing journeys.
Thanks to all coaches, parents and clubs for their unwavering support in addition to our sponsors CoinCover and Hutchinson Thomas solicitors.
Cricket Wales East (Geraint Leach & Ian Williams)
With the 2023 summer drawing to a close it has seen Cricket Wales East play a number of fixtures across the age groups. This has included Super Series fixtures against the other regions and attending some festivals which has allowed the players and coaches to experience intense cricket with games daily.
Some of the biggest highlights of the summer has been the U10s starting the cricketing journey with the culmination being the prestigious Aberystwyth festival. This is a great opportunity for the players and parents to experience their first taste of festival cricket and also to build friendships which can last for a lifetime. Likewise, for the U15s the Barnards Castle festival provided them with an opportunity to finish their journey within the CWE pathway and play against some opposition that normally we would not face. Again the most important thing for the players, coaches and parents is the experience of playing some intense competitive cricket over a week; while also continuing their development of the field by spending time together as a group.
Overall CWE has played in excess of 60 fixtures this summer across the age groups and have performed well in the majority with numerous players putting in match winning performances.
The 2023 season also saw long serving coach Geraint Adlam stepping away from coaching within the pathway due to work commitments. Geraint has been involved in CWE since its inception and previously Gwent Young Cricketers. He has played a part in developing numerous pathway cricketers throughout the years and we wish him the best of luck with his future endeavours.
Planning now starts for the winter programme with the programme due to start in November across the region. We'd like to express our continued thanks to Dragon Signs and Cathedral School Llandaff whose sponsorship has been integral to us!
Cricket Wales West (Andrew Walker)
In what was an excellent summer of fixtures; there were memories made and learning experiences aplenty. The weather did unfortunately cancel some of our fixtures and with grounds having a lot of rainfall in parts, during the summer on behalf of all our coaches and players we would like to thank all our regional clubs, volunteers and helpers for getting so many games on and helping in a what was a great summer of player development.
Our U10s had 2 squads named Cleddau’s and Taf’s and had some superb fixtures and training where the Aberystwyth festival was the highlight. This was the first year we were able to enter 3 teams from West Wales at this age in a festival, which bodes well for the future growth and development of these players through the age groups, with many starting their cricketing journey at all-stars and dynamos initially at local clubs. The festival offered great learning experiences both on and off the field of play. A trip to Dorset for this age group also provided a new experience, which gave further opportunities to develop their understanding of County opposition and game understanding.
Our u11 age group with one squad had a great 2 days at the Brecon festival with some indoor games arranged on one day due to the weather, providing something enjoyable cricket against the other regions. There were great learning experiences had against Wales U13 Girls and Herefordshire, where there were also some great individual performances, but more importantly the team ethos was apparent in what should be an exciting few years ahead for this age group.
We were able to field 2 teams at U12 with a Performance and Development squad. Many players interchanged between these squads with different roles and opportunities created in fixtures. For the Performance squad a great few day’s at the Malvern Festival was had with memories created and again learning opportunities against different opposition including Derbyshire and Shropshire. Our development team had some great summer games which included a very warm welcome at Cathedral School to start the summer program and some exciting games against other regional opposition.
Unfortunately, our U13 team were affected by the weather more than any other squad with most of their games completed in early summer. This was an extended squad where there were both Performance and Development fixtures which allowed for some great games of cricket, but also players given different roles within the games. We hope to build on this in the future within our pathway system with this ideology of more opportunities to be given in terms of different roles to our players to aid their development, which supports our winter program including elements of our mental skills training. There were some great games in this age with visits to Millfield school and Monmouth school, but also Dorset visiting us in Wales to end the season with this age group.
The U14 and U15s teams were again affected by cancellations due to weather, but some great moments were had, with a visit from a New Zealand regional touring team as one memory, where we had representation from both age groups in this game. This was a hard-fought game with some outstanding cricket played by both teams. Some younger players mixing with our older players in the team, allowed for learnings to be had against different opposition who played with a different game plan. Both these age groups had some great games against regional teams with again some outstanding performances. For our U15s finishing their pathway journey we do hope that they have made everlasting friends and continue within the game.
It is important to thank all clubs, parents, families, team managers and coaches who have supported the journey this year of our pathway children. We have already started observation sessions for players outside the pathway who were nominated from their local clubs, with over 100 players being observed from West Wales. We are looking forward already to our winter program start and aiding the development of players.