By Jonathan Twigg
DEBATE rages in Wales at present, where rugby has infiltrated the summer domain of cricket, which has held unparalleled dominance of the summer sunshine.
There has been a culture change, whereby summer tours and early season fixtures of the traditional winter sports means earlier starts.
Look no further than next seasons football league championship season for Swansea City, starting on Saturday (Aug 5) until Sunday (May 26) 2019.
The outcry from the boundary ropes comes more about how mini ruby has become a summer sport, bulldozered through, as opposed to negotiated.
WRU figurehead in this Ryan Jones, former Wales captain and British Lion parading the paraphernalia, Cricket Wales Development Officer Keri Chahal, having face to face meetings to form common ground.
The winner, undoubtedly now rugby as their mini game is happening in front of our eyes, but has cricket lost?
Not looking at the participation statistics in the new ‘All Stars’ programme, where children bestowed in blue attire are bouncing around cricket fields in the sunshine, the magic there to entice the next generation.
What sells it to parents, who undoubtedly influence their siblings? The paradox of ‘I played the game, so you must do also’ may live in both sports, but it’s more than that.
Attendances at international matches, in cricket’s case by supporting England, well the England and Wales Cricket Board side, the pathway? Saturday (Jun 16) saw them rock up in Cardiff, rugby capital of Wales, the Swalec Stadium to be precise, skirting the River Taff through Bute Park, the hosts leading a five match series against Australia 1-0.
Sell out you would think? Far from it; the Principality Stadium, bestowed with a retractable roof, unequivocally is, if Australia are the visitors, the Swalec attracted around 13,000, a fifth of their rugby rivals capacity.
Does cricket lack that panache to attract the floating spectator, often then with the family in tow? The game has stand out stars, opening batsman Jason Roy pulverising the Aussie attack, the Richardson’s, Jhye and Kane, of no blood synchronisation, a rarity in this sport for two with the same name to be sharing the new ball. Root 66, the featured face of the cricketing market, Joe, England Captain present, alongside former Glamorgan opening bowler Alex Wharf, making his ODI debut, as an umpire.
Coloured clothing, blue against yellow for the 11am start, the Aussie public back home having a choice of watching cricket, World Cup football against France, or rugby as the Wallabies welcomed Ireland to Melbourne.
Cricket is sensational down under, the viewing figures from Saturday would make an interesting comparative, lifting some of the ‘doom and gloom’ emanating from our ‘middle England’ type dulcet tones of the cricketing ‘I know best brigade’.
Food for thought, or is it time for the Blazers and prawn sandwiches to be confined to the attic, relics of periods passed? 100 ball ‘City’ cricket is another gurus dream, not welcomed by the current ‘Blazers’, where Saturday’s game produced 102 runs for one wicket, from just a third of the games total deliveries.
Believe me, there was a following of supporters, some perhaps beer monsters, in fancy dress but the majority of paying punters here, at £65 were from a generation brought up on John Arlott, a commentator remembered with fondness, his soupy‑thick Hampshire vowels drawling “we take life too lightly and sport too seriously.”
‘Wise up or weep’ is the cry for cricket, as this game on paper had everything, including the proverbial rain, which has so impacted the winter sports programme to influence the thinking of the WRU game management board.
England’s batsman rattled up for the first time in history five consecutive 50 plus run partnerships with stand in skipper Josh Butler ‘ramping’ sixes over the wicket keepers head; text book they are not but part of the modern game as he brought up his own 50 in the forty first over, with 17 runs in five balls!
What are the indicators for success? Tactical understanding from a blooded skipper Tim Paine, Jason Roy 120, Josh Butler 91 not out and Johnny Bairstow 42, in England’s highest ever ODI total of 342-8, where the expectation nowadays is 300 plus. Certainly, making sunshine on a rainy day sings Zoe, although those in the know were drumming Mambo number 5 with a cucumber sandwich during the interval.
Australia, looking to save some grace on a day when their rugby and football comrades were dispensed made a fist of it, Maxwell striking 31 alongside Glamorgan star Shaun Marsh.
Marsh handled the pressure but the crowd sensed the game slipping into the memory bank, in the lowering sunlight, buoyed by the beach ball antics of amongst others, Baywatch, tennis players and the Smurfs who embraced the evening’s ambiance, before the jobsworth lumbered in.
Marsh passed 2000 white ball runs on his way to 131, the end coming through Roy’s match winning catch to secure the star player award as over 600 runs were chalked in the scorebook. Something was missing, no pyrotechnics from which to salivate. Down to the pitch maybe, a slow burner typifying middle England in the centre of Wales, or is the product label just too predictable. Maybe a famous son of Yorkshire can answer that, after all he was called upon to ring the five minute ‘bell’ to signal the start of play.
That Yorkshireman; Neil Warnock; the irony, Manager of the newest Premier League football team, Cardiff City, promoted last season from the Championship, brought in for ‘iconic value’. Can the traditional sports share the space before time is called one wonders, with no frills, no fuss, depicted serenely by Arlott.
That memory is worth a toast, of his favourite Beaujolais tipple, for this is cricket as we know it, but for how much longer?
Aber make perfect start
ON a wet and windy August evening an excellent crowd turned out at Park Avenue to see the Black and Greens make the perfect start to 2019/20, with a 3-2 win over Carmarthen which leaves them at the Top of the nascent Cymru Premier table – this morning at least!
The visitors scored first through Liam Thomas’ 13th minute penalty, but Town Captain Marc Williams equalised with a deft header five minutes before the break.
The second half belonged to Aber as Williams pounced on a defensive mistake to put them ahead on 55 minutes, and Luke Boundford’s sumptuous volley, right in front of an adoring Nark’s Corner gave Town some breathing space thirteen minutes later. Luke Bowen snaffled up a consolation for Carmarthen in the 90th minute but it was to be Aber’s night as they held on for a huge victory.
Carmarthen probably had the best of a high paced and competitive start to the game, and the thirteenth minute was unlucky for Aber as Luke Bowen sneaked round the back and was pulled down in the area for a penalty, which Top Scorer Liam Thomas converted confidently.
Fortunately the goal stung the hosts into action: Williams saw a snap volley scoop wide, Ryan Wollacott headed wide and Wes Baynes forced Lee Idzi into a save with a header with Aber improving.
Wollacott then kept Aber in it with a superb last ditch tackle to deny Chris Jones a certain goal at the other end.
Baynes sent a lob just over the crossbar, the impressive Paulo Mendes set up Joe Phillips for a low drive which skimmed just wide. Then finally the breakthrough came as Matthew Jones sent in a sweet cross for Williams to glance home expertly at the far post, and douse Aber’s frustrations.
McCormick denied Bowen low down but the Black and Greens were in the ascendancy, with Williams (twice) and Stuart Jones going close, and the half time whistle came too soon for the improving Black and Greens.
Carmarthen came back after the break, Ceri Morgan sent a shot wide, McCormick punched wide a glancing header and Jones fired over – but then a simple ball down the middle caused consternation in Carmarthen’s back four and the irrepressible Williams nicked in between Lees Surman and Idzi to lob the ball home for a deserved lead, which got the home crowd signing in praise.
All Carmarthen’s efforts to equalise from free kicks and corners were cleared by a confident defence, and then with twenty two to go came a glorious moment when Boundford picked up the ball on the edge of the area, found space and curled home a delicious right footed volley into the far post to send Nark’s Corner into raptures, and Matthew Bishop’s men into a 3-1 lead.
What a goal for your Boundford’s home debut! Mendes typified a domineering performance by blocking Harling’s effort, and with Aber working hard to see the game out, the visitors tiring and the home fans singing, the job seemed all but done.
In the 90th minute McCormick spilled Jordan Vickers’ right wing cross for Bowen to nick a consolation goal, but Town kept Carmarthen at bay, with Boundford firing an injury time effort over the bar, and a thrilling game ended at 3-2.
The Black and Greens thoroughly deserved the three points last night for an exciting attacking performance, and two wins out of two plus seven goals has been a very good start to 2019/20 for Aberystwyth Town. They will now head to Barry Town on Friday night (ko 7.45pm) fully confident in their ability to achieve a positive result, before The New Saints come calling on Bank Holiday Monday, August 26.
Junior tournament a great success
THE highly acclaimed Bow Street Football Club Junior tournament celebrated its seventeenth year of existence in style on the weekend of July 13-14.
An excellent level of entries was again attracted this year, and large crowds came to enjoy the two-day festival, now widely recognised as one of the foremost events of its kind in Wales.
Bow Street chairman Wyn Lewis said: “It was another absolutely brilliant weekend. We were blessed with suitable weather on both days, and as a club, we are very proud to be the hosts of such a phenomenal event, and I want to thank all who contributed to the success of the tournament.
“I particularly want to thank the army of volunteers from Bow Street FC who worked extremely hard as a team to ensure that the whole event proceeded in an organised, efficient and friendly manner It is believed that there was over 1700 in attendance on the Saturday and we thank all our visitors for supporting us again this year.
“I would also like to thank our new tournament sponsors, Brian Jones and Castell Howell Foods for their magnificent support and commitment over the weekend.”
Brian Jones added: “We are delighted to support such a superbly organised event, and I was amazed at the standard of the youngsters on Sunday. The best thing was seeing all who were present thoroughly enjoying themselves.”
Main organiser, Amlyn Evans added: “It is an absolute pleasure to organise such an enjoyable event. Again, as every year, the greatest pleasure is seeing the enjoyment on the faces of all the competitors and spectators. The effort put in by club officials to ensure the smooth running of the whole event is phenomenal. Not only is it enjoyable, but it does provide Bow Street youngsters and others from this area the invaluable opportunity to test their skills against a large variety of teams from away.”
There were teams participating from as far afield as Pontyclun, Cardiff, Pwllheli and Caernarfon and for the sixth consecutive year, an all-girls competition took place on the Sunday.
Winners and Runners up:
Winners – Penrhyncoch
Runners Up – Llambed
Winners –Bro Hedd Wyn
Runners Up – Lampeter
Winners – Bow Street
Runners Up – Berriw
Winners – Builth
Runners Up – Penrhyncoch
Winners – Llanilar
Runners Up – Canton Rangers (Cardiff)
Winners – Padarn United
Runners Up – Penrhyncoch
Winners – Bow Street
Runners Up – Rhayader
Girls Under 12
Winners – Penrhyncoch
Runners Up – Porthmadog
Player of The Day – Keisha Swai(Porthmadog)
Mark Horwood Memorial Award
(Trophy for best local player of the day.)
Saturday – Stefan Gillies(Penrhyncoch)
Sunday – Mari Hefin(Bow Street)
Overall Player Of The Day
Saturday – Robin Williams (Bro Hedd Wyn)
Sunday – Cayo Carruthers (Llanilar)
Large crowds expected for Junior tournament
LARGE crowds are expected this coming weekend (Jul 13-14) for yet another huge occasion for Bow Street Football Club.
The club will be staging its seventeenth consecutive annual junior tournament. Since the inaugural tournament in 2003, the event has rapidly grown in to one of the most prestigious and successful in the whole of Wales.
The tournament is organised by the Spar Mid Wales League team, and games will take place on 9 different pitches at the club’s Cae Piod ground.
This year has again attracted an excellent number of entries with approximately 130 teams applying to participate in the eight different categories.
Teams from as far as Caernarfon and Cardiff will participate on the two days, and competition takes place on Saturday at under 6’s, under 8’s, under 10,s and under 11’s. On Sunday, teams compete at under 12’s, under 14’s and under 16’s.
For the sixth year running there will be a specific all girls category, which will take place on Sunday at under 12.
Bow Street FC are delighted to reveal that the tournament has a brand new sponsor. Castell Howell Foods, firmly established as one of the UK’s leading independent food wholesalers, has agreed to sponsor the extremely popular event for the next two years.
Bow Street chairman Wyn Lewis said: “We are very proud that this tournament continues to go from strength to strength, and it is obvious from the entries that amazingly, its popularity is still increasing. It is incredible that many of our categories were full a couple of months in advance of the tournament. We are very grateful to the clubs from all over Wales who continue to support us.
“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Brian Jones and Castell Howell Foods on board as our tournament sponsors. Castell Howell are well known for their commitment to community activities especially junior sport, and we appreciate the faith they have shown in us by agreeing to become our partners. Brian Jones is a hugely respected figure in Welsh life and having been fortunate to meet him on a few occasions, it is obvious he has a huge passion for supporting youngsters playing all sports and taking part in community-based activities. The Bow Street tournament we believe is such an event as it enjoys support from all parts of Wales.”
Castell Howell’s Managing Director, Brian Jones said: “May I say how delighted, happy and proud we are to be associated with this now very well established, popular and hugely successful Junior Football Festival organised by Bow Street FC.
“We at Castell Howell are big supporters of communities and believe greatly in giving our youngsters opportunities and we are delighted to support this superb event in Bow Street.”
One of the tournament organisers, Amlyn Ifans added: “This year has attracted an exciting number of entries yet again, and we look forward to an enjoyable two days competition! It is marvellous that a small village community club continues to facilitate such a prestigious event, which gives our own junior players valuable experience of challenging players from outside the locality.’
One of the original organisers, Allan ‘Baba’ Evans said: “I am so chuffed at the way this event has developed since we started it in 2003. I am so proud of the way that the whole club and the community always embrace the annual tournament.”
Play starts at 10.00am on both days, a wide variety of refreshments are available, and, as ever, there is ample parking space.
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