Wales head to Wimborne on Sunday to round off their championship campaign, in the knowledge that promotion to Division 1 is mathematically impossible after last week’s draw against Cornwall.
Despite posting 352 in their first innings courtesy of centuries from Harry Friend (his maiden one at this level) and Brad Wadlan and reducing Cornwall to a 101 run deficit on first innings thanks to a five wicket haul (5-56) from George Pritchard, Wales were unable to force a result after losing large chunks of Day 2 to rain. That has been an all too familiar occurrence over the last few years which has made progress in the competition especially challenging. A draw was all Paul Smith’s side needed to secure the Division 2 title and promotion which caps an excellent season for the Westcountry side who were runners up in the NCCA T20 competition. Wales were effectively out of that competition before a ball was bowled due to rain in April, but Cam Herring’s side will be looking to end the championship season on an unbeaten note having played some excellent cricket in the time they have been able to play, after having the better of both games against Wiltshire and Cornwall – the initial rained off match against Shropshire not helping the promotion push!
CAPTION: George Pritchard collected his first national counties 5-fer against Cornwall at Abergavenny last week, He spearheads the seam attack at Wimborne.
Dorset have shown on more than one occasion that they capable of posting big scores with former Somerset staffer Sam Young in scintillating form this season with a double hundred and a big century to his name in the last two games. Young and former Oxford UCCE starlet David Scott put on a record national counties partnership of 431 against Shropshire two weeks ago at Wimborne so Wales will be keen to not give them an opportunity to better that! With the experienced due of Luke Webb and Alex Eckland bolstering the batting too taking 20 wickets is likely to be the immediate challenge for the Welsh attack that renders multiple changes from the regular side this season.
Out go the unavailable Jason Foulkes, Tim Moses remains unavailable as does Jack Harding who continues to recover from a back injury. In come Todd Wilcox and Harry Robins for a first Wales appearance. Wilcox has been prolific form for club side Pentyrch this season, topping the league’s charts with wickets – his last appearance was in Wales’ win against Wiltshire at Panteg last year. Robins, who currently turns out for Cardiff made a solitary appearance for Wiltshire last season having come through pathway there but the left arm seamer has settled in South Wales for the summer and has a chance to show the Welsh selectors what he can do. On the batting front, the North Walian duo of Will Ryan and Harrison Jones sit out the long trip to Dorset and are replaced by the available again Steff Roberts and Morgan Bevans who returns to the line up for the first time this season after notching a league hundred last weekend. Kurtis Marsh is retained for the absent Harry Friend who has exam commitments and Brislington’s Milo Ayres makes a national counties debut. The 23 year old who has Welsh heritage via his grandmother has enjoyed a prolific season in the Bristol & North Somerset strand of the West of England Premier League amassing over 800 runs including four centuries.
CAPTION: Brad Wadlan and Cam Herring will both be keen to remain unbeaten as they steer Wales towards sustained progress in the red ball competition.
Wales have a below par record against their counterparts across championship history, winning only 5 times in 26 attempts, with 10 draws and 11 losses. That will be a record Herring and in form player-coach Brad Wadlan will be looking to improve upon immediately as both teams fight for a respectable second placed finish in the division.
Play starts from 11am on Sunday at Wimborne with admission for spectators free. Live streaming capability is expected.
Wales NC from: KM Marsh (Ammanford), CH Hemp (Swansea), SH Roberts (Swansea), BL Wadlan (Swansea), MJ Bevans (Newport), CL Herring*+ (Pontarddulais), M Ayres (Brislington), TD Phillips (Cardiff), T Wilcox (Pentyrch), GT Pritchard (Swansea), HAK Robins (Cardiff), 12th: O Baxter (Swansea).
Dorset CCC from: Luke Webb*, Jacob Gordon, David Scott, Sam Young, Alex Eckland+, Will Tripcony, Lucas Del Bianco, Josh Royan, Toby Pattemore, Ed Bartlett, Tom Varney.