Wales head into their pre-season weekend with a view to finding out their best XI prior to their NCCA T20 Cup opener against Bedfordshire on Easter weekend (17th April).
It's been two years since the T20 format has occurred at national counties level, with the tournament being sacrificed at the start of a COVID-19 restricted April last season, and with no formats going ahead during the height of the pandemic in 2020. Even before then, the format remains in its infancy with only a few years of experimentation under its belt but Wales have yet to make it out of the group stage and into finals day.
First up on Saturday Wales take on the students of Cardiff UCCE, fresh from their three day workout against Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens which saw academy batter Morgan Bevans notch a composed, unbeaten century. Bevans and fellow batter Harry Friend, who both played for Wales last year will line up for the students as Wales look to give as many players an opportunity to have some middle time. Bevans will join up with Wales the following day against Herefordshire.
There are a number of familiar faces for Wales again from last season with the likes of Tom Bevan, Sam Pearce, Steve Reingold, Connor Brown, Richard Edwards, Greg Holmes and Kieran Bull all involved across both days. Glamorgan staffer Prem Sisodiya is expected to be available for Wales during the early part of the season and lines up on Saturday against the students, as does Swansea left arm seamer James Brehaut who was unable to make his mark for Wales during last year's interrupted pandemic pre-season in 2021.
There are opportunities for the likes of Muji Ilyas, Joe Voke, Sam Jardine and Callum Nicholls across the weekend as well as veteran all rounder Aneurin Norman. Glamorgan academy keeper batter Henry Hurle deputises for the absent Cameron Herring on the Sunday whilst Wales are hopeful that Lorenzo Machado recovers from an ankle injury ahead of the season. South African born Machado was not eligible for Wales last year pending British citizenship, but the highly rated 24 year old is now registered and eligible for selection.
New recruit Greg Smith is unavailable as he prepares for the season with club side Penzance abroad, youngsters Ben Morris and Ben Kellaway are on Glamorgan academy duty whilst it is too early to hope for the likes of Glamorgan's Andy Gorvin and Callum Taylor who both turned out for Wales last year.
For Head Coach Darren Thomas, it's an important weekend for the side before things get busy. With only one team from a possible 5 progressing from each group to finals day a good start is key. He said:
"It's a good opportunity for us to get back into the habits we've come to expect of ourselves in white ball cricket. We have lots of players knocking on the door to stake a place in the T20 side which is really healthy and whilst we have a few unavailable this weekend, it's up to the players to give us some headaches ahead of next week!"
Both games are to hosted by Lisvane this weekend with the first T20 starting at 11am, and the second at 2.30pm - admittance is free for spectators and the key game highlights will be captured through NV Play.
Wales NC squad vs Cardiff UCCE: TR Bevan, SJ Reingold, CR Brown, SJ Pearce*, CL Herring+, GC Holmes, MM Ilyas, SJ Jardine, RD Edwards, KA Bull, P Sisodiya, J Brehaut, CR Nicholls,
Wales NC squad vs Herefordshire: TR Bevan, SJ Reingold, CR Brown, SJ Pearce*, L Machado+, H Hurle+, GC Holmes, JH Voke, SJ Jardine, RD Edwards, KA Bull, MJ Bevans,
Herefordshire CCC squad vs Wales NC: M Pardoe*, N Hammond, J Singh, O Rogoff, A Russell, Z Ul Hasan, J Rudge, L Powell+, C Steele, O Cox, O Walker, I Bullock+, P Harris, B Morgan.