Wales sit top of Group 4 and are enjoying their best start to the one day trophy campaign since 2013, after a coming out on the right side of a nail biter against Oxfordshire at Banbury on Sunday.
After morning rain prevented play starting on time the game was reduced to 33 overs a side starting at 2:45pm. Sam Pearce won the toss for the second game in succession and invited Oxfordshire to bat first. After a watchful start against Richard Edwards and Aneurin Norman – the latter becoming Wales’ leading one day appearance maker in history during the game – openers Tom Haynes and Tom Cosford went on the attack taking the score to 61 when Pearce accounted for Cosford (39) caught by Richard Edwards. This brought Sussex CCC youngster James Coles to the wicket. With the score on 85-1 after 17 overs Tegid Phillips was introduced and with the first ball of his spell bowled an advancing Coles for 15.
Haynes and Harrison Ward then went on the offensive, putting on 74 in 10.1 overs before Ward (47) was caught on the boundary by Oscar Kolk – the first of four catches he took in the outfield. Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals and the Oxfordshire innings finished at 202-8 after 33 overs with opener Haynes top scoring with 55 off 73 balls. Richard Edwards was rewarded for an excellent outing with the ball with figures of 2-26 and Tegid Phillips picked up 2-35.
In reply, Tom Bevan and Steve Reingold rattled to 27 in the first few overs before Reingold was bowled by Tom Price for 15. Bevan (12) followed the very next ball caught at backward point. This brought the Lansdown pair of Oscar Kolk and Connor Brown together and they took the score to 53 before Brown (16) was caught behind by Russell. During the same over Wales lost the wicket of the dependable Greg Holmes leaving plenty of work for Wales to do.
That work was set about through Cameron Herring as he joined Kolk, and the pair batted with composure to take the score to 121 before Herring (38 off 40 balls) was stumped off the bowling of Oliver Price – Wales needing 82 to win off the remaining 11.3 overs.
Kolk and Pearce took the score to 155 in the 27th over before Pearce was caught for 10. The big wicket of Kolk (58 off 65 balls) followed in the same over with Wales still needing 44 off 6.1 overs with Aneurin Norman joining Andrew Gorvin at the wicket. Norman was then bowled in the 30th over by the opening bowler Tom Price with 30 needed off 20 balls, 8 wickets down.
It was left to Gorvin and Tegid Phillips to get Wales close and when Gorvin smashed a six, high over long off during the 31st over Wales came down to the last two overs needing 18 to win. A brilliantly executed scoop off the returning Price by Phillips, followed up by a perfect reverse sweep in the final over left Gorvin to hit the final two of the penultimate ball to cue clinch an outstanding game of cricket.
Whilst Wales are not mathematically into the quarter finals yet, they head into their final group game against Berkshire on Sunday knowing that something extraordinary will have to stop them.
Wales haven’t reached the quarter final stage since 2015 and have their aspirations set much higher than that according to coach Darren Thomas who said, “it was a brilliant game of cricket. From my perspective it was pleasing for the boys to be put under pressure and come through it. We know we need to get used to being in that type of scenario, especially if we want to get close to the back end of the tournament, so it bodes well heading into Berkshire on Sunday.”
Wales are expected to stick with the same XI that has come through unscathed thus far. Berkshire are the one day trophy defending champions and head to South Wales looking to bounce back from their surprise loss to Oxfordshire last time out. COVID-19 protocols meant that Berkshire missed the likes of former England U19 all rounder Euan Woods last time out. Whilst it is unclear whether he will return to the team in time for Sunday, former Middlesex staffer Chris Peploe continues to spearhead the side along with the dangerous pairing of Richard Morris and Andy Rishton.
Sunday’s game is at Newport Cricket Club – 11am start.
Wales NC vs Berkshire at Newport from: Wales NC from: SJ Pearce* (Bridgend), TR Bevan (St Fagans), SJ Reingold (Neath), CR Brown, OMD Kolk (both Lansdown), GC Holmes (Cardiff), CL Herring+ (Pontarddulais), AW Gorvin (St Fagans), AJ Norman (Mumbles), TD Phillips (Cardiff), RD Edwards (Port Talbot), 12th man (tbc).