Long standing Head Coach Darren Thomas has called time on his Wales National Counties career after 11 years at the helm.
The former Glamorgan all rounder took over the reigns in 20211 initially as player coach and served that role up until the end of 2016 before stepping off the field officially. In 32 championship games he amassed 1,310 runs at an average of 28.47 including six half centuries, in addition to a further 376 runs in 50 over cricket at an average of 26.85. As well as helping guide many talented Welsh cricketers through the side and into the professional arena Thomas steered Wales to four one day cup quarter finals (2011, 2013, 2015 & 2022) and a semi final (2021) - easily their best period in history since their formation in 1988. Last season he, alongside the Wales NC management made the decision to split the head coaching duties between white and red ball, allowing Brad Wadlan to take on the mantle of the red ball championship duties in the same player-coach role that Thomas served during his tenure.
CAPTION: Darren Thomas reverse sweeps against Shropshire during his early days as player coach of the Wales side.
Wadlan's stellar performances over the last season (which included two championship centuries), coupled with Thomas' ever increasing commitments within the Glamorgan setup have led to a natural passing of the baton, with Wadlan putting pen to paper on a three year commitment that will see him assume responsibility for the side across all formats. Upon relinquishing the reigns Thomas commented:
"After 11 enjoyable and progressive years this decision has been really difficult for me.
Alongside commitments in the Wales pathway and Glamorgan Academy, national counties cricket has given me a rounded apprenticeship in coaching and leading people. My coaching journey has certainly changed throughout the years; very autocratic at the start, however with valuable experiences in different environments, evolving as a more democratic and holistic coach.
My focus for Wales NC was always to provide opportunities to develop young players to play for Glamorgan. The national counties platform provides tough cricket for those players and gives them an insight to the pinnacle of recreational cricket. Over the years we’ve seen numerous players onto represent the daffodil, which has indicated we have assisted with the transition from pathway, academy and university level into professional cricket.
There are too many individuals to thank, so I’ll try to generalise. Firstly to the Minor Counties, now National Counties organisation for their support throughout. I’d like to thank Glamorgan for their support throughout, having communicated closely with the academy and professional coaching group who have provided players to strengthen sides. I’d like to thank the players who I’ve mentored and coached over the years for their commitment, skill levels and support. There have been many highs and lows which is expected in any sporting environment. When things got tough you stuck together, when things were good you enjoyed each others success. When I observe around club grounds, I see friendships and a culture of togetherness – that’s what you players created which will always stand out in my mind.
Lastly I wish the new management group the best of luck moving forwards!
CAPTION: Darren Thomas is presented with a commemorative shirt alongside past and present players during his last game - the washed out showcase game against Warwickshire this season.
With regards to Thomas departure and Wadlan's arrival, Cricket Wales Head of Talent Pathway, Matt Dando-Thompson said:
"Darren has given an incredible amount to Wales NC over the years. His passion and dedication have been huge factors for why Wales has its proud reputation for developing players to make the step into professional cricket, and I've not come across too many people that care more about wanting Welsh cricket to flourish. Since Cricket Wales took over the national counties setup in Wales, we've been able to enjoy a really successful period and Darren's professionalism, attention to detail and desire has facilitated a lot of this. He should look back with pride at what he's been able to accomplish and the role he has played in many people's development on and off the field.
We always knew replacing Darren would be tough - we needed someone with experience as a player, but also as a coach - someone with a real spark to take us even further. It's become pretty clear that that person is Brad. Not only does his on field record speak for itself at national counties level, but he gets what we're trying to do, and is hugely passionate about wanting to leave a lasting mark on the side for years to come. I am delighted that he's committed to us for the next three seasons and I can't wait to see where it takes us to."
CAPTION: Brad Wadlan talks to his Shropshire counterpart this season in his role as red ball Player/Head Coach.
Upon formally becoming Wales NC Head Coach after his initial red ball stint Wadlan sounded excited to get going. He commented:
"I am delighted to take over full time as Head Coach of Wales. Darren has done an incredible job for a long period of time in this role. I wish him the very best. I have a lot of plans ready for white ball and will no doubt change a few things moving forward but the fundamentals are very similar. In terms of red ball it’s a few very small tweaks with players understanding there roles throughout the winter and I think we are there. I’m delighted with the progress that we made this season. The opportunity to change personnel and have a look at players based on league performances has gone a long way to the visible improvement.
I’m really looking forward to getting back in the nets and working with the boys this winter."