Wales Girls Tour to Abu Dhabi and Dubai

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Wales Development Squad Selected for Abu Dhabi 2015  

Lauren Parfitt (Captain) (Newport CC)
Naomi Davies (Newport CC)
Rachel Davies (Neath CC)
Rose Evans(Newport CC) 
Alex Griffiths (Port Talbot Town CC)
Ellie Hopkins (St Fagans CC)
Aimee Hughes (Llangennech CC)
Sara Jenkins (Llangennech CC)
Anwen Morgan (Drefach CC)
Georgia Parfitt (Newport CC)
Nicole Reid (Newport CC)
Charlotte Scarborough (Newport CC)
Laurie Thomas (Cowbridge CC)
Cerys Thomas (Ammanford CC)
Hannah Thornton (Llandudno CC)
Jessica Thornton (Newport CC)  


Tour Report by John Derrick Cricket (Wales Performance Manager)

After a lot of hard work on cricket, fitness and psychology over the past five months, the Wales Under 19 Development Team set off on their tour. Sixteen players ranging from twelve year old Alex Griffiths to the Captain, twenty year old Lauren Parfitt, who were looked after by me and Aimee Rees. We also had twenty seven supporters from parents, siblings, grand parents and an uncle who all showed the girls incredible support throughout the tour.



The Squad in their One-Day Kit

Day One - The bus set off from Whitland at 10.30am on Saturday 14th February with six pick ups along the M4. We arrived at Heathrow terminal four for the evening flight with ETIHAD airways to Abu Dhabi.  

Day Two - The flight and airline were excellent and we arrived in Abu Dhabi at 7.15 am to some warm weather. The Centro Yas hotel on Yas Island was a short bus ride away and allowed everyone to take some of the sights of Abu Dhabi, the formula one track and Ferrari world. The players had the morning off and set off at 2.30pm to train at the Zayed International Cricket stadium for a two hour net and fielding session. They worked really hard batting in pairs in the nets, bowlers bowling on grass for the first time this year. Fielding and catching were interesting as the heat and the bright sky caused a few problems, but they all survived.  

Day Three - Monday morning and our first game was against Essex at the nursery ground of the Zayed stadium. We won the toss and batted first. It seamed a very good toss to win with the heat. Rose Evans and Lauren Parfitt walked out to the middle looking confident but at 25 for 5 we were under the pump until a very good partnership between Naomi Davies 46 and Anwen Morgan 29 put on a partnership of 85 to help Wales recover to 110 for 6 before Anwen Morgan was bowled by Shona Keeney who finished with figures of 5 for 16 off her 8 overs. There were some valuable contributions by Rachel Davies (18 not out), Jessica Thornton and Nicole Reid both scoring 11 to give Wales 159 to defend off their 40 overs, an incredible recovery after the start we had.  

Essex started their innings steadily but we managed to get a breakthrough with Hannah Thornton removing the opener LBW. Essex managed to stay up with the required rate even though they were loosing wickets at one end. The Wales bowlers managed to stay in control and keep taking wickets there were good bowling performances from Jessica Thornton 8-3-21-2, Nicole Reid 8-2-23-2 and Hannah Thornton 8-1-26-2. The last six overs saw Essex require 35 runs to win, it was nip and tuck all the way until Essex required six to draw or seven to win off the last over. Lauren Parfitt took responsibility as the captain to bowl her slow left arm to try and win the game. Essex scored 5 off the first 5 balls of the over requiring one to draw and 2 to win off the last ball with one wicket remaining. A draw would have seen Essex win as they would have lost one less wicket than us. The pressure was incredible and Lauren managed to bowl a dot ball which was taken cleanly by her sister Georgia behind the stumps. Wales were victorious by 1 run a great game of cricket played in Great Spirit by both teams. I do believe the extra preparation the girls received from Carwyn Lewis fitness and Mark Walton sports psychologist gave the girls an edge in this situation.  

Day Four – was a day off which the girls spent at Ferrari world riding the fastest roller-coaster in the world and enjoying the extensive Yas Mall.

Day Five - Saw us travel to Sharjah everyone was very excited to see Dubai and mainly the Burj Kalifa as we travelled to the stadium. We were on our way to play at the Sharjah International cricket stadium which holds the world record for hosting the most One Day Internationals. This was a great opportunity for the girls to play at a first class venue on a wicket which none of them had seen before, it had a shiny appearance as it had been continually watered and rolled the groundsman told me it would be quick and bouncy which was not exactly true. We were up against a vastly more senior and experienced Loughborough University side. Lauren once again won the toss and batted first. We made our way to 163 with a very good 71 not out from captain Lauren who batted right through the innings and held things together.

Loughborough started in a hurry and raced to 70 for 1 off 9 overs and with their physical size and experience made life tough for our girls, but the results of the hard work that Carwyn Lewis fitness and Mark Walton psychology put in during the last few months saw the girls dig deep to field and bowl like demons for the next 20 overs. Aimee Hughes bowling off-spin managed to get the scalp of Welsh girl Gwenan Davies who was playing for Loughborough university. Loughborough passed our total in the 30th over, 5 wickets down. The pick of the bowlers was Rachel Davies with 2 for 10 off her 5 overs but a really great effort by all the bowlers and the fielders in the heat.

Day Six - We returned to Zayed Stadium where we played a select United Arab Emirates (UAE) team. Ellie Hopkins took the gloves in this game after suffering a minor ankle injury. We lost the toss for the first time and fielded first, a great opening bowling partnership by Sara Jenkins and Charlotte Scarborough reduced the UAE to 25 for 5 off 16 overs. Charlotte Scarborough in her first game after an ankle injury bowled 7-3-8-1 and Sara Jenkins 7-2-10-1. There was an excellent direct hit run out by Alex Griffiths fielding at point aiming at one stump. Nicole Reid 6.4-0-14-3 and Laurie Thomas 2-1-9-2 mopped up the tail to bowl UAE out for 63. We opened with Cerys Thomas 31 not out and 12 year old Alex Griffiths 23 not out who saw us home in good style winning by 10 wickets in 8 overs securing our place in the final.  

Day Seven
- was a well earned day off and took the girls to the watermark in Yas Waterworld where they had a great time.

Day Eight -  The final against Loughborough, again and we knew how tough it would be, but our attitude was brilliant in what you could only describe as a scene from the wild west,  the whole of Abu Dhabi was being hit by a vicious sand storm. Alongside our game there was a local game of cricketers playing on a sand outfield and a concrete strip, they had hats, glasses and scarfs around their faces because it was so windy and dusty it was almost impossible to see. We just about played, it would have been the first time I would have missed a game because of a sand storm! We started off better than the first encounter against Loughborough until one of our own Gwenan Davies who scored a hundred for us on our trip there two years 97 and played really well. This saw Loughborough post 254 for 8 off their 40 overs. The girls stuck to their task extremely well in incredibly difficult conditions.

In reply we knew we had to get off to a good start, we lost Naomi Davies in the second over and was replaced by Cerys Thomas who batted with Lauren Parfitt to get us up to 70 for 1 off 12 overs. Lauren was eventually dismissed for 86 a great effort in really difficult conditions. We were all out in the 40th over for 189 an excellent effort all round against a side who were much more experienced and physically stronger.  

Lauren’s 158 runs at an average of 79 and the two wickets she picked up saw Lauren being awarded player of the tournament which was thoroughly deserved. She acted as a great role model for the Wales squad and the younger members of the squad were really inspired by her attitude and work ethic. Well Done Lauren! All in all a great experience for these girls. The improvement they have made in all aspects this winter has been remarkable. They are all stronger, fitter, mentally more prepared and have made huge improvements to their individual skill levels. The wide age range of the squad from twelve to twenty was a huge positive. The older members of the squad leading the way highlighting what the younger girls should be aiming to achieve over the next few seasons. This by no way takes anything away from the younger members of the squad they all contributed considerably throughout the tour. This tour has been invaluable for the girl’s development and hopefully they will kick on to become the best cricketers they can possibly be. After the final we travelled to Dubai and for the whole party to see the Burj Khalifa for the first time in the dark was some sight.

Day Nine - took us as a group of 42 of us up the 124 floors to the viewing gallery of this amazing building we were three short as they were scared of heights the Burj Kalifa is not the place to be if you are not keen on heights. Later that day all 45 of us went to the desert to cruise around the sand dunes and enjoy a bbq and show a good time was had by all  

Day Ten - was our last day on the trip and the girls had their final day at the Wild Wadi waterpark overlooking the Burj Al Arab. The tour was ended with a team meal at Carluccios overlooking the fountain show at the base of the Burj Kalifa an incredible sight.  

Day Eleven - We left the Chelsea Towers in Dubai at 8.30am to travel to Abu Dhabi to catch our return ETIHAD flight at 1.25pm arriving at Heathrow at 5.15pm. On approach to landing and just after going over Stamford Bridge we must have been 100 feet off the ground, the pilot decided he wanted to have another look at this great football stadium and aborted the landing and flew over the bridge again, we safely landed 10 minutes later with a few nervous passengers.

I'd like to thank the bus company Taf Valley Coaches. I would like to thank the parents for the way they conducted themselves on the trip and got on really well with everyone, also for all their help during the winter months fund raising especially Yvette Hughes. Thank you girls for the way you conducted yourselves on and off the field as I said on the bus a credit to yourselves your parents and to Cricket Wales so proud of them. Well Done! Last but not least Aimee Rees who has done a remarkable job from start to finish of this venture and the best organised trip I have been on. Fantastic Aim! Thank You.
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