A busy 5 weeks of cricket starts on Sunday for Wales NC as they open up their NCCA 3 Day Championship against Devon at Abergavenny.
Despite coming second best to Dorset last Sunday, Wales still did enough on net run rate to qualify for the latter stages of the NCCA One Day Trophy - only the second time in their history successive latter round stages have been achieved. They will face off against current holders Berkshire at Falkland on July 17th in a repeat of last year's semi final. Before that though, Sunday's three day game is followed by a back-to-back visit to Oswestry to take on Shropshire (10th-12 July), with Glamorgan waiting to inflict some revenge on July 31st during the annual showcase fixture at Sophia Gardens - Wales won a close encounter by 2 wickets last year. Should Wales progress past Berkshire the semi final of the One Day Trophy awaits them on August 7th.
CAPTION: Darren Thomas has a job on his hands to ensure players stay fit ahead of a hectic schedule for Wales next month.
Whilst it may be a difficult balancing act in terms of squad freshness for Head Coach Darren Thomas he, alongside new red ball captain Cam Herring, will be hoping Wales can improve upon their 4th placed finish in 2021 in Division 2 of the Western Conference and mount a serious challenge for that coveted top spot to achiever promotion. Wales can count themselves unlucky last season, with the weather preventing them from achieving results in three out of four games (when they were on top) but a loss to Herefordshire did not mask the challenges the team still faces - that mainly being the ability to post big totals.
This year's task will not be made any easier with the loss of main run getter Oskar Kolk who is on Royal Marines duties. The in-form Tom Bevan - who hit yet another blistering hundred for Glamorgan 2nd XI - is also unavailable as he pushes for a crack at the professional game. Kieran Bull (the second highest wicket taker in the division last year), Tegid Phillips and Steve Reingold are also unavailable. The good news for Wales however is the return of the seasoned Brad Wadlan. The 33 year old all rounder has been in scintillating form for a number of years, notching three hundreds in the South Wales Premier League already this season to go alongside 16 wicket and is set for a first championship appearance for Wales since 2018.
CAPTION: Brad Wadlan's last appearance in the championship came in 2018.
There is also a return to national counties cricket for the impressive Ben Kellaway. The Glamorgan academy starlet made an excellent debut against Dorset in 2019 making 60 at North Perrett but has been engaged with school, Glamorgan 2nd XI and Wales U18 duties in the time since. He joins fellow academy batters Harry Friend and Callum Nicholls in the line up, both who finished off the red ball season for Wales last year and have made inroads into the white ball team this time around. North Walian Jason Foulkes is set to make a championship debut after impressing across the T20 and One Day Trophy this season. Foulkes will be the first North Walian to represent Wales in the three day game since Ben Roberts in 2018 - Sam Jardine and Ben Morris will accompany Foulkes in the seam department after Richard Edwards called time on his championship career yesterday.
Edwards enjoyed a wonderful 8 year spell in the 3 day team, collecting 62 wicket at an average of 31.00. He will take his place in 12th on Wales' all time wickets list in championship cricket with only Harry Powell (69) and Nick Davies (78) ahead of him of players that have played in the last decade.
CAPTION: New captain Cam Herring bats against Devon last year where he and Oskar Kolk compiled a record 5th wicket partnership.
For skipper Herring he will be looking to continue his own personal red ball form from last year, where he accumulated 309 runs at an average of 51 which included a sparkling hundred against Shropshire at Abergavenny as well as a 74 against Devon at Sandford. He said, "I'm really looking forward to taking the reigns after we had a frustrating time of it last year. We're at a really good stage with the group, thanks to Sam Pearce, where we have some experienced guys coupled with some excellent youngsters. Callum (Nicholls), Harry (Friend) and Ben (Kellaway) all seem young but they've been around the block a fair bit now and are just as capable as any of us of making match winning contributions. Ben Morris has been brilliant this season for us too so it's just a case of us putting together consistent sessions of good cricket and the rest will hopefully look after itself. We know the importance of getting off to a good start and the lads are all looking forward to it."
For Devon, they will be looking to the likes of experienced professional Callum Hagget to lead their attack with bat and ball. The former Somerset and Kent all rounder is into his third season with Devon and averages 42 with the bat and 16 with the ball in red ball cricket. Swansea seamer Kazi Syzmanski, formerly of Glamorgan will also have the new ball after switching back to Devon at the start of last year.
Play starts from Abergavenny at 11am on all three day and admittance is free.
Wales NC from: HLR Friend (Newport), CR Nicholls (St Fagans), CR Brown (Lansdown), MJ Bevans (Newport), BL Wadlan (Swansea), BI Kellaway (Chepstow), CL Herring*+ (Pontarddulais), SJ Pearce (Bridgend/Warminster), SJ Jardine (Neath), JS Foulkes (St Asaph), BJ Morris (Abergavenny), MM Ilyas (Newport).
Devon CCC from: CJ Haggett* (Shapwick & Polden), MW Thompson+ (Congresbury), JD Horler (Exmouth), EH Hamilton (Plympton), SO Read (Exeter), A Small (Sandford), BA Beaumont (Cornwood), JW Baird (Exeter), M Shepherd, KB Syzmanski (Swansea), F Sabir (West Bromwich Dartmouth).