Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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

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