Head of Talent Development, Richard Almond provides an update on the Talent Pathway sides during August and September, which saw the Wales Under-18 team crowned as the U18 T20 Cup winners:
August and September have seen the age group seasons come to an exciting climax. All our teams have had exceptional seasons and credit must go out to all the players, coaches and parents who have made the season such an enjoyable and successful one.
The U13s had a busy month which started with a defeat to a strong Warwickshire team. The boys quickly bounced back going the rest of the month unbeaten with victories over Yorkshire, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucestershire and a good win over Somerset in the final match of the season. This capped off a great first season for the U13 team who won 10 games and lost just three.
Having already qualified for a quarter-final spot, the Under 14 team lost their final group game which meant a play-off game at Surrey. Surrey batted first and the Welsh boys did well to restrict them to 216 all out with Casey Bedford taking four for 35. In reply however the Surrey bowlers our Wales for 161 with Lewis Popple top scoring with 59. It was an achievement by all to get through the group stages of the cup.
The U16 team started the month by beating Hampshire in the ECB Cup and further victories over the Isle of Wight, Somerset and Wiltshire ensured qualification to the knockout stages. As the U14s did, the U16s lost their final group game against a strong Berkshire team to set up a quarter final with Middlesex. The Middlesex team proved too strong and convincingly defeated our U16s by 184 runs. It was a disappointing end to what had also been a very good season but credit again to the players, parents and coaches for their efforts.
The team of the season has undoubtedly been the U18 team. The three-day championship defeat to Worcestershire was followed by a victory over Warwickshire, a defeat to Northamptonshire and a draw against Gloucestershire.
The team however excelled in the white-ball competitions. In the 50-over Knockout Cup, the boys continued their way with a quarter-final win over neighbours Gloucestershire. Batting first, Wales scored 264 for 9 with Callum Nicholls scoring an outstanding 134. The bowling and fielding were exceptional, as we bowled Gloucestershire out for 185 with wickets shared between all the bowlers. The win set up an exciting semi-final with Surrey…
Wales won the toss against and batted first, scoring a competitive 214 all out with Callum Nicholls again being the pick of the batsmen scoring 84. Once again, the bowlers and fielder stepped up and bowled Surrey out for 197 with two wickets apiece for Ollie Rayner, Ben Kellaway and Cian Davies, while the fielding unit also contributed with two run outs.
A final against Northamptonshire at Kibworth Cricket Club was the reward for beating Surrey. We did not bat as well as we had in the earlier rounds and only managed to put together a total of 184. The bowlers tried their best but Northamptonshire batted well and passed the score for the loss of two wickets.
There was however one more chance of silverware for this group as we had already qualified for the T20 final by winning our group earlier in the season. Kibworth was again the venue but with Leicestershire the opponents.
Again, winning the toss and batting, the boys put in an exceptional performance, scoring 154 for seven with contributions from Ben Kellaway 47, Tom Norton 39* and Henry Hurle 32. The bowling and fielding was outstanding and Leicestershire could only manage 84 all out in reply with Kameel Sahabdeen the pick of the bowlers, taking four for 18 from his four overs, while Ben Kellaway took three for 15.
The U18s were crowned as the inaugural ECB U18 T20 Cup winners. They showed great character in bouncing back after the defeat the week before and thoroughly deserved to get a trophy after all the effort the players, coaches and parents put in since the start of the programme in November.
Thanks must also go out to all the clubs who have hosted pathway games this season and to all the umpires and scorers for their assistance as well.