Wales NC will have a split coaching team for the 2023 season, after current incumbent Darren Thomas has stepped down from red ball coaching duties.
Former England A and Glamorgan professional Thomas has been at the helm of the side for the last decade since taking on the role in 2012, serving five years as a player-coach before hanging up his own boots. During that time Wales have reached three Quarter Finals in the 50 over competition and one Semi Final in 2021 with a raft of players progressing through to professional cricket for Glamorgan - notable names include current skipper David Lloyd, Ruaidhri Smith, Lukas Carey, Owen Morgan, Prem Sissodiya, Callum Taylor, Connor Brown, Kieran Bull, Jeremy Lawlor, Aneurin Donald and Tom Bevan.
As recently as the 2022 season, Thomas helped guide Wales U18s to the ECB National T20 Cup as well as runners-up in the 50 over competition with the likes of Ben Morris, Ben Kellaway, Callum Nicholls and Harry Friend all having made the transition to the national counties side in the last 24 months. With National Counties cricket partly about developing the next generation and partly about providing a strong layer of recreational cricket for aspiring amateurs, the former fast bowling all-rounder will continue to play an integral role in the white ball formats - two competitions that Wales appeared to have stepped up a notch in over the last few years.
On relinquishing red ball duties, Thomas had this to say: "it's been over a decade since I was offered the chance to become an on-field mentor and Head Coach of what was the Wales Minor Counties. The joint vision was to assist the development on young Welsh players to go onto play for Glamorgan - assisting with bridging the gap between the pathway, academy and university cricket into the pro environment. It was also to create an environment where players who came in felt embraced and at ease.
I'm incredibly proud to have played a small part in developing numerous players who have gone on to play professionally, as well as those players who fulfilled their potential and have remained loyal to the national counties team over the years.
There are several reasons why I have taken the decision to step back as red ball coach for the 2023 season, one being the congestion and crossover of three day fixtures with the Wales U18s squad which leaves me unable to be in two places at once. I have however decided to continue developing the Wales NC white ball team - we certainly have the players to be successful in both the T20 and 50 over competitions, and 2023 will be about building on the last two seasons and becoming more ruthless in the key games."
Taking over red ball head coach responsibilities - in a similar player/coach role to what Thomas initially started out as - will be the experienced Brad Wadlan who has committed to be available for Wales in all formats next season (he will act as Assistant Coach in the white ball formats).
33 year old, Bridgend born Wadlan came back into the Wales fold at times last year, helping them to a tense five run victory in the three day game against Devon at Abergavenny scoring a century and taking a historic twelve wickets in the game. He followed that up with a well made half century in Wales' win against Wiltshire at Panteg. Wadlan has plenty of leadership credentials to his name at national counties level having had success for a number of years with Cornwall and Herefordshire as well as two previous stints with Wales. At club level he has been instrumental in guiding Swansea to the upper echelons of the South Wales Premier Division table in recent years with impressive performance with bat and ball, and also remains involved in the Wales U18s coaching team alongside Thomas.
On taking on red ball coaching duties Wadlan commented: "I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead Wales NC as Head Coach in red ball cricket. I'm passionate about developing cricket in Wales and working with the best talent we have in the pathway and across the various leagues in Wales. It's an exciting time with the recent success and progress of the side in the last couple of years and we will be looking to build on this in the winter months."
On securing a way forward for Wales on and off the field for 2023, Head of Talent Pathway Matt Thompson said, "we're sad to lose Darren in the red ball format after so many years but he's earned the right to have a bit more of a balance to his summers! In the same breadth it creates a great opportunity for Brad to step into the role and really add to the value that we saw at times last season. He's shown that he's still one of the better players on the club and national counties circuit, and combined with his coaching credentials our young players can most certainly learn a thing or two from the way he goes about things. We want to get ourselves out of Division 2 in the championship so our youngsters can test themselves at the highest level NCCA cricket offer and with Brad at the helm I think we give ourselves the best chance of doing so."