Recent T20 champions Staffordshire head to Port Talbot in high spirits on Sunday as the NCCA One Day Trophy commences for Wales.
Despite improved performances in the T20 and three day formats in recent years, it has been the 50 over competition that has seen Wales stock rise the highest, with a semi final appearance in 2021, followed by a quarter final last season – both falling to tournament winners Berkshire. In a highly competitive group also featuring Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire and Dorset, Sam Pearce’s side will be keen to build some early momentum in the knowledge that three wins out of four will all but guarantee progression. Only two out of four were required last year given that sides all beat each other but relying on run rate is never a foregone conclusion.
It's been a tough week on the selection front for the Welsh management with plenty of promising performances across the weather ridden T20 campaign, and more players vying for spots than there are actual places. A triple boost comes via Glamorgan who have made fast bowler Ben Morris, all rounder Andy Gorvin and England U19 keeper batter Alex Horton available. Morris has been a regular feature for Wales in the last year whilst Gorvin’s last Wales appearance came against Staffs in their defeat at Himley last year in the same competition although he and Horton lined up against their employers in the showcase feature in 2022. Horton also featured in the championship against Shropshire at Oswestry last season.
CAPTION: Alex Horton will make his first Wales appearance of the season on Sunday in the One Day Trophy.
Jack Harding, Saihaj Jaspal and Morgan Bevans are the unlucky men to miss out on this occasion, whilst Harry Friend is absent with study leave. Steffan Roberts make a first Wales appearance since 2017 during an outing against Herefordshire – the 25 year old has been on the Welsh radar for a while now, after a number of consistently strong years towards the top of the South Wales Premier League run charts. He has a hundred and four half centuries to his name at national counties level so will not be a stranger to this level.
Cameron Herring returns to the side after sitting out the T20 campaign – the former Gloucestershire staffer has been a consistent figure in the Welsh side for a number of years and will add experience in the middle order along with Brad Wadlan. Will Smale retains his place in the side after impressing in and out of Welsh colours – the 22 year old fell five short of a blistering century for Gloucestershire 2nd XI in their T20 South Group game against Somerset. Callum Nicholls resumes his opening slot from last season but will have a new partner in Cameron Hemp. Hemp topped the Welsh run charts in the T20 tournament and smashed a quickfire hundred in the week for the Abu Dhabi franchise side Chennai Braves against a full Scotland side. All rounder Ruaidhri Smith is unavailable for the competition currently, as continues to manage his workload.
CAPTION: Cam Herring retuns to the line up this week.
Staffordshire feature a host of dangerous players who proved their worth as they stormed their way to their first T20 triumph at Tring Park last weekend, demolishing Berkshire before digging deep to deny Cornwall their first silverware in the competition. Former Derbyshire all rounder Nils Priestley and former Glamorgan batter James Kettleborough would be two to watch out for especially. Priestley can be one of a few batters in recent that has had Berkshire bowlers running for cover, walloping a 66 ball 147 in the T20 semi final, whilst Kettleborough looks like a man on a mission since leaving Bedfordshire last year, as does left arm spinner Tom Brett. Former Lancashire seamer Liam Hurt- who has 30 List A wickets to his name – is also expected to feature.
With Darren Thomas absent from coaching duties this weekend, Assistant Player/Coach Wadlan and Head of Talent Pathway Matt Dando-Thompson will lead proceedings with skipper Pearce. Dando-Thompson had these words to share ahead of Sunday’s clash: “it should be a cracker – Staffs have a number of match winners and as good a line up as anyone in the competition (as they showed last week), we know that. But we’ve played some excellent cricket in this competition over the last few years and have a strong belief in our group that we can be a match for anyone on our day. We have a number of players keen to continue putting themselves in the shop window for counties, and this is another great opportunity for them to stand up and show everyone what they can do.”
Play starts from Port Talbot at 11am on Sunday, with general admission free of charge with limited parking. Spectators are warmly welcomed and there remains a strong likelihood that the game will have live streaming capability.
Wales NC from: SJ Pearce* (Lansdown), CH Hemp (Swansea), CR Nicholls (St Fagans), BL Wadlan (Swansea), AJ Horton+ (Port Talbot/Glamorgan), SH Roberts (Swansea), WT Smale (Taunton Deane), CL Herring (Pontarddulais), AW Gorvin (St Fagans/Glamorgan), RD Edwards (Neath), BJ Morris (Pontarddulais/Glamorgan), TD Phillips (Cardiff).
Staffordshire CCC from: JM Kettleborough*, S Atkinson, T Brett, CJG Hawkins+, R Haydon, MJ Hill, LJ Hurt, C Leese, MA Morris, NO Priestley, DP Richardson, PJ Wilshaw.
Caption: Ben Morris bowling against Staffs at Himley last season.