Tuesday, 22 October 2013

First Minister Carwyn Jones supports a Welsh team

This article appeared in the Western Mail on the 26th of June 2002, after Wales had beaten England in a 50-over challenge match. You can find a link to it here

WALES should have a Test cricket team following their victory over England, business minister Carwyn Jones said yesterday. 

Mr Jones said it was ``anachronistic'' to have Welshmen playing for an English cricket team. He said the only solutions would be to rename the English side Great Britain or to split it up with separate teams for Wales, Scotland and England. 

He said it was bizarre that the Welsh players in Monday's game at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, were effec-tively trying to play their way into the opposing team which they beat. 

``It is time we had a Welsh Test team,'' he told reporters at the Welsh Assembly. 

``How strange it must be for one team to hope to play well enough to join the opposition team. It has always struck me as rather odd to have a Great Britain cricket team. It is anachronistic to call it England when it has players from outside England. ``Either you should have a Welsh Test cricket team or a cricket team called Great Britain.'' Mr Jones will undoubtedly be accused of opportunism. And he conceded his call was unlikely to prove successful. 

``But it is something that needs to be addressed given the obvious quality of Welsh cricket,'' he added. 

Wales caused a major upset with their emphatic eight-wicket victory against England. The win was a warm-up game for England in preparation for a triangular one-day series against Sri Lanka and India. 

Take Action for a Welsh Team

Friends it is time to lobby your Assembly Members to ask that they support establishing a Welsh national cricket team. To do this is simple. 

First click this link and then enter your postcode. Then click write to all your AMs.

Then simply write your AMs an email telling them why you think Wales should have its own cricket team. It is best to keep it positive and to stick to the subject matter without becoming in any way confrontational. 

If you need some help then you can base it on the sample letter below.


I writing writing to ask that you vote in favour of noting the Petition Committee's report on establishing a Welsh national cricket team in plenary on Wednesday the 23rd of October. 
The report calls for there to be consultation in the cricketing community on whether such a team should established. I am firmly of the opinion that it would be a huge benefit for Wales if we did establish the team.
So many Welsh cricketers never play any international cricket because they must try to get into the England team. If there was a Welsh team then there would always be at least 11 Welsh people playing international cricket.
It would also give fantastic exposure to to our country. During the recent Ashes series England played against Ireland and Australia played against Scotland. This gave international exposure to Scotland and Ireland in their own right. The only thing people saw internationally about Wales was that England play their home games in Cardiff. What sort of message does that send about Wales?
There are so many internationally recognised teams in the British Isles: England, Ireland, Scotland... even the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey have their own ICC recognised teams. But Wales does not and that is something that we now have the opportunity to change. 
Rugby and football players get to grow up dreaming of playing for Wales and that is a good thing. But for those who love cricket there is no Welsh team to dream of playing for or to support. 
I ask that you give your support to noting the Committee's report so that we can continue to explore the possibility of establishing our own team. 

If you would like more information you can click this link 

Cricket Wales have "no plans" for a Welsh national team

This was sent to all Assembly Members today by Cricket Wales and Glamorgan. Disgraceful that they still believe a Welsh team wouldn't constitute international cricket.


The idea of a Welsh national cricket team is an emotive subject. Regardless of how desirable it would be to see our proud identity represented on the international stage, it is a romantic notion that is unlikely to be beneficial to the game in Wales, the watching public or the current and future players of the sport.

Let us consider the existing structures and processes in place for cricket in Wales, whether recreational at grassroots, or professional with Glamorgan County Cricket Club, which would be jeopardised with such seismic change.

Cricket Wales is the national governing body for the junior and senior recreational game in Wales and strives to achieve 4 main outcomes:
•    More young people, adults & families are involved and retained within cricket.
•    Cricket is easily accessible to everyone in Wales.
•    People have a fun, enjoyable and positive experience in cricket.
•    People (i.e. players, coaches, officials, ground-staff, club volunteers etc) have the opportunity to be the best they can.

All of these objectives are currently delivered in partnership with the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), in terms of funding support, utilising competition structures and provision of opponents, coach and player development programmes, business models and a shared player development pathway which gives Welsh players the opportunity to ultimately play on the biggest stage, with the best facilities, in the best venue, alongside and against the best players in the world. Cricket in Wales and players at all levels benefit from aligning with the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Comparisons can be drawn with near geographical neighbours as such a working relationship is not enjoyed by Scotland or Ireland. Both instead possess International Cricket Council (ICC) membership status and play against other nations around the globe. The standard of cricket at this level is inferior to the level of domestic competition provided by the ECB (i.e. County Championship, T20 and 50-over domestic tournaments) and equally it is weaker at age grade levels throughout the game. Both the professional game and the pathway from age grade cricket are supported centrally by ECB funding, as are many other facets of the sport in Wales.

Indeed both Ireland and Scotland have been independently registered with the ICC for about 10 years and it has taken a long time for them to reach the stage they are at. The recent success of Ireland Cricket should be applauded, but Welsh players have achieved a great deal more within the ECB structure, and are highly likely to continue to do so.
By standing alone as an ICC associate member, the sporting, economic and political consequences for both professional and recreational cricket in Wales are stark, with even local club cricket affected.

At the highest level, Glamorgan's status as a First-Class County would be questioned as it relies heavily on ECB central funding generated through broadcast of England international fixtures. Certainly no (England) international events such as the Ashes of 2009, which return in 2015, nor the seven hugely successful ICC Champions Trophy fixtures of this year would be held in Wales.

International cricket is a cornerstone of Glamorgan's business plan. The SWALEC Stadium was built for sell-out international cricket matches and large events. Without international cricket Wales would suffer from the loss of international exposure these high profile fixtures bring, the people of Wales would miss the opportunity to be inspired by seeing the world's best on their doorstep and Glamorgan would miss the income generated.

Young players developing in the game already have the opportunity to play for Wales at Under 11 boys to Senior Women, against top quality opponents from strong English Counties such as Somerset, Yorkshire and Middlesex. At full international level players who strive to achieve within the game, would face a choice of England or Wales, with a four year wait required between appearing for either nation - the chance to follow in the footsteps of Simon Jones and Robert Croft to play Ashes Test Match cricket or to play the Netherlands in Amsterdam?

Recently Irish-born and qualified player, Boyd Rankin, made the following statement following his selection for this winter's England Ashes series:
"It's one step closer to my dream of playing Test Match cricket. I'm over the moon that
I have got into the squad. I've always had the ambition to play Test Match cricket but
I think it was that step when I did decide to stop for Ireland. I wanted to concentrate
 on playing for Warwickshire and force my way in”

We welcome the opportunity for the future of Welsh cricket to be given public consideration and we recognise more work is required to improve the talent pool in Wales. However we are already on the right road to develop the growth of the game at grassroots through clubs and schools in Wales, to better enable the progress of elite players and to increase the number of youngsters pushing for selection into Glamorgan's first team.

Cricket Wales and Glamorgan CCC are totally committed to developing Welsh cricket through being part of the ECB. A future Welsh international team forms no part of our plans due to the hugely detrimental impact it would have on the game in Wales at all levels.

Yours sincerely

Peter Hybart                                                                    Barry O'Brien
Chief Executive                                                                Chairman
Cricket Wales                                                                  Glamorgan CCC Ltd

Monday, 21 October 2013

Q&A - Everything you need to know about Welsh cricket

When was cricket first played in Wales?

The earliest recorded match to have taken place in Wales was in 1783 on Court Henry Down in Carmarthenshire. The match was arranged by J.G. Philipps, who was a member of the Carmarthenshire gentry and became MP for Carmarthen Borough in the same year.

Has there ever been a Welsh national team?

Ninety years ago, in 1923, the first attempts at forming a Welsh national team took place when Glamorgan batsman Norman Riches played an influential role in forming the Welsh Cricket Union. He did this because he believed there was enough talent in Wales to create a representative Welsh side.
It was decided not to pursue a Welsh test team because at the time this would have led to Glamorgan dropping out of the County Championship. Nonetheless, the Welsh Cricket Union saw a Welsh national cricket team as a longer term goal and continued to organise international matches against teams such as Scotland, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies, who Wales defeated in 1928.
In 1969 the Welsh Cricket Association was formed to organise a Welsh amateur team. During the early 1970s the amateur national team played several home internationals and played the MCC once a year.
In 1979 Gibraltar pulled out of the ICC Trophy and so the Welsh side was asked to take part. The Welsh side beat both the Netherlands and Israel, narrowly lost to the USA and had their match against eventual winners Sri Lanka abandoned due to bad weather. This meant Wales finished 2nd in their group but could not carry on to the semi-final as only one second placed team went through and Canada had more points in their group.
Between 1993 and 2001 Wales competed in the annual Triple Crown Tournament, played between Wales, Ireland, Scotland and an England Amateur XI. The tournament was hosted by Wales in both 1996 and 2000.
Between 2000 and 2004 Wales also played an annual 50-over challenge match against England in June. Wales won the first of these matches by 8 wickets.
Since 2004 no team representing Wales has played an international match.

Why is it the right time to establish a Welsh national cricket team?

Cricket is a game of history and traditions that have stood the test of time for centuries.
Wales was in fact the second country to begin playing cricket, after it was invented in England, with the first known games taking place in the 18th Century. Cricket clubs in Wales were also set up at that time, making them amongst the oldest in the world.
Throughout the 20th Century a Welsh first class team played matches against other international sides, including in international tournaments, but a permanent Welsh national team was never established.
And so until the 1990s cricket in Wales, along with Scotland and England, was governed by the Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB). But Scotland took the positive decision to establish its own national side, which gained ICC recognition in 1994. Ireland had already gained membership to the ICC a year earlier in 1993.
There are in fact six ICC recognised teams in the British Isles because even the small islands of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man have their own teams. Wales is, therefore, in the unique position in the British Isles of being unrepresented.
Wales missed her chance to establish her own team in the ‘90s because the decision was taken by the powers that be that Wales would be better off being represented by England. And so the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) was established once Scotland had set up its national team.
But the idea of establishing a Welsh side was never forgotten.
The occasional Welsh player managed to play for England, averaging around one player every ten years. It has in fact been over eight years since the last Welshman played senior international cricket – Simon Jones in the Ashes in 2005. This means a whole new generation of Welsh players in their twenties have gone without experiencing international cricket.
But now the game of cricket is changing internationally and Wales must be a positive part of that change. The Woolf Review into cricket’s governance, which talks about establishing a Welsh team, came to the conclusion that cricket needs to become more transparent, to open up and avoid vested interests if the game is to expand globally.
Twenty20 is also changing the face of the game and winning over new fans across the world for the sport. As Twenty20 increases cricket’s popularity, financial opportunities for emerging nations will increase and the emphasis on test cricket will decrease somewhat. This makes it absolutely the right time to establish a Welsh national team so that as these major changes take place we do not miss our opportunity again but instead reap the sporting and financial benefits.

How popular is cricket in Wales?

Cricket in Wales is somewhat of an anomaly and is not always very visible. As Dominic Malcolm notes in his book Globalizing Cricket: 'the curiously anonymous history of Welsh cricket is... probably a consequence of a failure to either passionately embrace the game (as evident in the Caribbean) or to reject it outright (as in America). Rather, for much of the game's history the Welsh have appeared to be content for their game to quietly become subsumed by its English big brother'.
Nonetheless, cricket is still regarded as Wales' third sport behind rugby and football.
This was not always the case because cricket was the first organised team game in Wales. The establishment of many famous football and rugby teams in Wales were actually as a result of cricket teams wanting to keep fit over the winter through other sports. This is the case for Premier League side Cardiff City FC, who were established by Riverside Cricket Club in 1899.One of Wales' most famous rugby teams, Pontypool RFC, was also formed by Pontypool Cricket Club in 1868.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century the popularity of cricket has fallen behind that of football and rugby but cricket is changing. The much shorter Twenty20 format is opening cricket up to new audiences and expanding the game of cricket to new nations. Just like the 100m in running is considerably more popular for viewers than the longer running formats, this is becoming true for cricket. With the popularity of Twenty20 growing globally it is likely that cricket in Wales will also see an increase in popularity.

What will happen to Glamorgan?

The idea of establishing a Welsh national cricket team is intended to compliment Glamorgan. It is important that Wales has a strong county representative in the County Championship. But is also important that the nation has a strong representative in international fixtures.
Glamorgan is currently struggling as a county. It is in a large amount of debt and the administration of the club has led to high-profile resignations and serious questions raised over the running of the club.
It has already been confirmed by the ECB that establishing a Welsh team will not effect Glamorgan's status within the English county system. This precedent already exists in football, where Wales has her own FIFA recognised national team but several Welsh clubs play in the English leagues. The question mark is over Glamorgan hosting England internationals, which will be addressed later on.

Will the team be any good?

This is a question often raised in justification for not having a team. It has even been raised by Sports Wales in the National Assembly.
The question, however, should not be entertained. The only question that is relevant is “who are the best 11 Welsh cricket players?” These 11 players will then be who makes up the team and it will then be the job of the board to get the best out of those 11 players with the resources available. At times they will win and at times they will lose. But as a Welsh team we will support them regardless. This is the nature of international sport.
What is not in international sports' nature is to simply not have your own team but to try and get your players into another country's team. The Welsh football team isn't particularly good. There is currently no expectation for the team to win European or World Cups. But few would argue that we should abandon the Welsh football team and try to get one or two of our best players into the England team instead. Seeing Gareth Bale play at Wembley, with the Three Lions and the word England on his chest and 10 Englishmen as teammates would offend most Welsh football fans' sensibilities. But this is precisely the situation for cricket in Wales.
Regardless, Wales could certainly rival Ireland and Scotland and challenge some of the test playing nations. Ireland, for example, have recorded famous victories over Pakistan and England. And yet we have more players, we have more clubs and we have better facilities than Ireland. In Scotland and Ireland they also have more sports than Wales, with Gaelic football and shinty/hurling as well as football and rugby competing with each other. In Wales it really is just the big three that have large fan bases and participation.
We also already have two first class teams, Glamorgan and Cardiff MCC University, and we have a wonderful test ground in the SWALEC Stadium.

Isn't England just a Great Britain team?

No. In the British Isles there are six teams recognised by the International Cricket Council (ICC), who are the sport's international governing body. These are Scotland, Ireland (the Republic and Northern Ireland play as Ireland), England, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey. The England cricket team is not, therefore, something similar to a Team GB. It represents only England and Wales, although almost all games are played in England and the team's name, flag, colours and insignia make no reference to Wales. Wales is in actual fact the only area of the British Isles with its own national government that does not have a team.

Why are Glamorgan and Cricket Wales opposed to establishing a Welsh national team?

Glamorgan believe that they will go bankrupt if they can no longer host England test matches in the SWALEC Stadium. Due to the very high levels of their debts it would seem that they believe hosting some of the incredibly lucrative England test matches is the only thing that can get them out of this debt.
Establishing an ICC-recognised Welsh team would not immediately prevent them from bidding for tender for England matches but they clearly believe that it would lessen their chances.
And yet, hosting England test matches is one of the reasons they find themselves in this financial situation. In the past they have bid too high for the tenders to host test matches and then failed to make the money back as a result of very poor ticket sales. This has put them in the position of owing large amounts of money to the ECB rather than profiting from that relationship and even having test matches stripped from them. Furthermore, hosting third party matches in cricket is completely normal. Pakistan and Afghanistan both play all of their home games in the United Arab Emirates.
What is perhaps more worrying for Glamorgan is that, whether there is a Welsh team or not, there is no guarantee that Glamorgan will win further tenders to host England matches anyway since the process is so competitive and there are now many top-quality grounds in England.
The last tender process led to Wales hosting none of the test matches for the recent Ashes. Instead, England played one “home” ODI game in Wales. However, England also played an ODI in Ireland and Australia played an ODI in Scotland. This means that England and Australia each played as many games in Scotland and Ireland as they did in Wales. The key difference is that Scotland and Ireland have their own national teams, with 11 players from each country playing in those games. They also both got international exposure in their own right. For Wales meanwhile, not a single Welsh person played during the Ashes and our country got international exposure as a place where England go to play their “home” games. What message does that send out to the world about Wales.

Cricket Wales's bitterly ironic opposition to a Welsh team is ostensibly about finance. They believe cricket as a sport in Wales will suffer because they will no longer receive funding from the ECB. Instead they will receive funding from the ICC just like all the other cricket boards in the British Isles.
However, Cricket Wales also seems to be ideologically opposed to establishing a cricket team for Wales. They have never engaged in the process with any openness and have not made any efforts to explore whether establishing the team would be a viable possibility. From the very first moment they have been absolutely opposed to it and have made every effort to shut it down.
It is surely the case that an organisation called Cricket Wales, who receive funding from Sports
Wales, who in turn receive their budget from the National Assembly for Wales and the
Welsh Government really ought to be doing everything possible to establish a Welsh cricket
team rather than everything possible to prevent it.

Establishing a Welsh team would mean becoming an ICC member and part off the ICC funding stream. A Welsh team would in fact open up new funding possibilities. On top of the standard ICC funding Wales would push to quickly qualify for Higher Performance Programme funding and, in recognition of the need to expand cricket to new nations, Wales could receive funding through the ICC’s Big Better Global Game. There are then, of course, the lucrative television rights that are available to nations with their own team. Sponsorship will also play a role.
One of the arguments often made against establishing the team is that there will be no international matches played in Wales any more and hence a loss of income. But this argument comes from people who seem to believe that a match is only international if England is playing in it. But of course when Wales has her own team there will be considerably more international cricket matches played in Wales, which brings new opportunities for revenue. Qualification for tournaments also leads to increased revenue.
We only need to look to Ireland and see the sold-out matches they play against England, Pakistan and other touring sides, along with their appearance at World Cups, to see the enormous funding potential for a Welsh team.
Ultimately, if you look at the amount of funding that Cricket Ireland has then it is a similar level to the money provided to Wales by the ECB. Cricket in Ireland is developing rapidly and they are able to support a successful national team and push for test status, which suggests that we would be more than capable of funding ourselves.

Shouldn't we just make the England team more Welsh? Wouldn't that be better?

That may be better for Wales than the current situation but it certainly wouldn't be better for England. The thing that we have to remember is that this isn't just about what is good for Wales but also what is good for England too.
The English cricket team is very much a unique expression of Englishness and English culture. From the rendition of Jerusalem at the start of games (England’s unofficial national anthem), to the Flag of St. George, the Barmy Army and the Three Lions; the England cricket team is one of those rare occasions where England revels in being English. This campaign is not about taking that away from them in order to impose some hybrid where we attempt to mash together the cultures and symbolism of our two countries into one team.
So if there can’t be a Welsh cricket team then it would be an improvement to see Wales better represented as part of the current England team (the name, the badge, the kit, the players etc.). But it would be better for all concerned if we were able to have two teams that fully represent each nation rather than one team that only half represents both of us.