A Wales National Cricket Team

In a previous incarnation, and a parallel dimension (Google Blogger), I wrote a piece on Ireland’s national cricket team, and that team’s victory over England in the 2011 Cricket World Cup. I used the Irish victory to ask why Wales does not have a national cricket team. Obviously I’m not the only one asking this question, as we can see from this petition to the Notional Assembly’s Petitions Committee earlier this month, urging the Welsh Government to support the establishment of a national cricket team for Wales.

ECBAt present, Wales is, to all intents and purposes, part of England, and linked to England in the England and Wales Cricket Board. Though the abbreviated title is always ECB, and that’s how it appears on the badges worn by international players, even Welsh players. There is also a Wales Cricket Board, which seems to be a subordinate body looking after the amateur game within Wales.

There were a number of interesting submissions made to the Petitions Committee. One that caught my eye was from David Morgan who, despite the name, comes across as one of Brutannia’s staunchest sons, to the extent of believing in that magic land, ‘Englandanwales’. Read more of his submission in the Wales Online piece I’ve linked to. Morgan is nothing if not honest. He spells out clearly why he thinks a Welsh national cricket team would be a bad idea. First, it would spell “the end of Glamorgan as a professional club in England and Wales”. Second, “it would see the end of the Swalec stadium”.

For those who don’t follow cricket, let me give a little background information. When I was a boy and a young man in Swansea I’d regularly go to that most beautifully situated stadium, St. Helen’s, overlooking the bay. In winter to watch the Whites (Swansea RFC) and in summer to see Glamorgan County Cricket Club. I have been there for cricket matches in a crowd of over 15,000. Glamorgan’s highest-ever attendance of over 20,000 was at St. Helen’s. This was the ground where Gary Sobers hit his six sixes in one over. But then certain influences got to work and it was decided that ‘the county’ would in future base itself in Cardiff and only play the occasional game in Swansea. So St. Helen’s, and Swansea, became an early casualty of the GCCC history‘everything in Cardiff’ syndrome. To the extent that St. Helen’s has almost been written out of the club’s history.

In 1997 we saw the formation of the England and Wales Cricket Board as “the single national governing body for all cricket in England and Wales”. Note how that short phase mentions two countries but uses the term “national”. And in the sixteen years of the ECB’s existence it’s fair to assume that no one at Cardiff City Cricket Club (CCCC), or any other cricketing body in Wales, saw any need to query that insult. Around the same time CCCC began planning a new stadium in Sophia Gardens. When completed, with its 16,000 seats, it would eventually be known – after a sponsorship deal – as the Swalec Stadium.

Everything seemed to be going well; a new stadium, a new governing body, CCCC even won the English County Championship in 1997 . . . what could go wrong? Well, for a start, the Welsh public started losing interest in cricket (or maybe the crowds stayed in Swansea), resulting in the Swalec Stadium being about one tenth full on a good day . . . with few of the crowd under 60, most of the women knitting and half the men dozing. How to make the stadium pay? Well, there was only one answer – get England to play test matches there. Fill the home of Cardiff City Cricket Club with English fans supporting England on their ‘home’ ground. And so it came to pass . . . first One Day internationals, then a full, five-day Test match in July 2009.

So that’s why Wales does not have a Swalec Stadiumnational cricket team. It’s because we are already represented by the English Cricket Board. Also, because to insist on a national team would jeopardise the existence of Cardiff City Cricket Club and its white elephant stadium. Or, to look at it another way; in order for CCCC to balance the books Wales must be subsumed into England. And for the umpteenth time, Wales ends up paying for a prestige project that Cardiff can’t afford and never really needed.

Yet listening to some, including the chairman of the Assembly’s Petitions Committee, Lib Dem AM William Powell, you’d think the only problem is the ‘anachronistic acronym’. I kid you not. Powell seems to think that everything would be just fine if the ECB became the EWCB! Listen, Wil; that suggestion is more insulting than the acronym itself. Because from ‘flannelled fools’ in England we expect no better, but you masquerade as one of our representatives.

Of course, the Swalec Stadium could have a future – if Wales had a national cricket team. If the cricket authorities in Wales started thinking and behaving like Welshmen we could have a national league, with our national team playing test matches against Australia, India, South Africa, West Indies at the Swalec Stadium. And competing, like Ireland, in the World Cup. Losing Cardiff City Cricket Club and no longer being ‘represented’ in the English County Championship would be a price worth paying.

Strange, when you think about it; but here I am advocating that Wales has more sporting links with countries and cultures around the world, while the enemies of Wales at CCCC and the ECB, who see no further than England, and view Wales as a part of England, would call me ‘narrow’ in my vision, and ‘insular’.

14 thoughts on “A Wales National Cricket Team

  1. By Jove Sir ! It’s just not cricket to have snapping jays like you running amok Sir ! Off with your bails I say ! You Sir are a bounder,a cad and no Englishman ! . You Sir, should be sent off to the Antartic to play with the other animals and pedophilia penguins ! I repeat Your No Englishman Sir !

  2. also sad to report the welsh counties concentration on upgrading its cardiff stadium to the apparent exclusion of everything else – in order to host england matches – has of course been a disaster…..the county going from regularly winning titles in the years before ‘winning’ the right to host england games in 2005 to spending most of the years since 2005 languishing in the second division and usually bowing out of every competition at the earliest opportunity……its also telling i think that despite it actually being the ‘england and wales cricket board’ the team itself has never been known as england and wales!…despite the fact this team very occassionally plays in wales, very very occassionally selects welsh cricketers and presumably wishes to attract support from cricket fans in wales?

    clearly there is no good reason why a country with such strong cricketing traditions as wales shouldnt compete on the international stage in its own right….wales in fact actually qualified for the 1979 cricket world cup but were prevented from participating due to ‘beauraucratic’ manouvering…..but it really is annoying to see other countries with no such cricketing traditions as wales regularly participating in international competitions …while wales is supposed to be represented by a team in which wales isnt even mentioned?…..a frankly bizarre not to mention insulting state of affairs for welsh cricket fans….

    im also sure that if wales had historically been allowed to have its own cricket team truly great welsh cricketers like alun jones, don sheppard and matthew maynard would have played a lot more international cricket than they did……with nearly 40 thousand first class runs alun jones being the highest scorer in world cricketing history never to play international cricket….on david morgan’s objection that wales having its own team would endanger the status of glamorgan i think he is mistaken….as teams like scotland, ireland and the netherlands participate in first class cricket compeitions in england but are still allowed to play international cricket….so i suspect if wales were to seek to participate in internatioanl cricket in its own right glamorgan’s situation would be very similar to that enjoyed by welsh football clubs like cardiff and swansea etc, who while being welsh footbal clubs compete in english compeitions..

  3. daffy2012

    Such a pathetic state of affairs. I can remember it being discussed on BBC Radio Wales with Jase Mohammed passionately behind EnglundandWales as well as their special guest BBC cricketing guru Edward Bevun (as they pronounce his name). I made a couple of comments to the programme which were never aired.

  4. Phil Davies

    This is an honest question Jac, as I’m not a real cricket fan, so feel free to correct me, but isn’t there an obvious relationship between the cricket-fan-constinuency in Wales and general ‘unionist’ sympathies and tendencies? Therefore just a natural and predictable reluctance to do anything that sets Wales apart from England, even at the grass roots? You know, they’ll always be the last, rather than the first to go down that line. Probably sad, embarrassing and frustrating for those with slightly more independent inclinations, but predictable and probably not worth worrying about too much, when there are easier and more pressing targets? You know, picking your battles wisely. I’ll man the barricades for a Welsh cricket team if called upon, but is that where you want me to marshall my forces? Do Welsh cricket fans really care? Enough of them, that is?

    1. anon

      I wouldn’t say that Welsh cricket was any more unionist than rugby football. The fans at St Helens were certainly not particularly middle-class and plenty of the players came from working class even Welsh-speaking backgrounds – Alun and Eifion Jones for example. I’m sure that even the likes of Wilf Wooller enjoyed sending the English home with their tails between their legs. The current set-up is all about getting hold of a share of the TV loot, nothing more.

  5. anon

    Yes Jac I remember those days at St Helens. I was in college there and for the princely sum of one guinea per annum could lord it as a country member, although it was more fun mixing with the hoi polloi. Tony Cordle was a bit of a hero of mine and with the likes of Shepherd, Presdee, the Jones brothers, Walker, Wheatley, Nash etc games against the likes of Australia were mini-test matches.

    Things started to go to pot when they started picking a second eleven to represent the county against touring sides. Give the championship players a bit of a rest, what a daft idea to devalue your biggest game of the season like that.

    I don’t give a hoot for Glamorgan now or the Swalec stadium or the E & W board. Yes Wales could play Tests and certainly be in the World Cup. As it is the E & W set-up is a disgrace to Wales.

  6. treforus

    All through the 80s and 90s Glamorgan members were told that the club’s only hope was to own its own ground in Cardiff so that it could attract sponsorship, hospitality packages etc. So the club moved away from its base of support . The Swalec ground has proved a millstone not a lifebelt. Crowds are dismal- the boast that the lost members from SA postcodes would be replaced by more from CF and NP never happened and fewer and fewer players are coming through from West Wale, from where the club traditionally had its greatest sources of talent.

    The club stays afloat on Sky money from the Tests. It is otherwise irrelevant The number of pies sold on match day is more important than the score.. The old players were well known and respected locally. I wouldn’t recognise more than one or two of the present team if I passed them on the road (and I’ve been a member since Tony Lewis’s days).

    1. Jac

      Glamorgan leaving St. Helen’s was an absurd and perverse decision. It meant leaving the area where a) the supporters were and b) where most of the players had come from over the decades. And all for pie-in-the-sky support in Cardiff that never materialised.

      If as you say, the only thing keeping the club afloat is the Sky TV money for Test matches, then that may not last much longer. There is strong opposition in England to Test matches being played in Cardiff. Not just from the traditional Test match grounds, but also from other stadia that have invested in improving facilities, such as the Rosebowl in Southampton (or Ageas Bowl, as it’s now known). Quite honestly, I wouldn’t raise a finger to save the Swalec Stadium or Cardiff City Cricket Club. And I’d do my best to see that no public money was used for the purpose either.

      Other comments have hinted at the disconnect between cricket players and supporters in Wales and those who control the game. While the former are generally representative of the Welsh, the hierachy tends to be royalist, Tory, Unionist and of a view that the most appropriate place for a Welshman’s head is in close proximity to John Bull’s arse. Not a lot different to the WRU.

  7. Stirling Doss

    Jac,
    I have waited a hell of a long time for you to say something sensible, as opposed to rabid nonsense, and I have been rewarded for my patience! Your comments about St. Helen’s as the true home of Welsh cricket are spot on – and its heritage and tradition matchless. Swalec is a gulag, and Wales is the land of our committees, all of whom are self-serving. Speaking of Welshmen, I would have liked to hear you wax lyrical about the genius of Majid Kahn, the power of the mighty Viv, and the deadly toe-crushers of Waqar’s reverse swing. As in cricket as in life – diversity is our strength!

  8. and after this news what are the odds that little gibraltar wil have its own national cricket team before Wales?

    http://www.chronicle.gi/headlines_details.php?id=29430

    congratulations to gibraltar by the way – i look forward to their national team playing wales in future qualifying competitions. This is also another nail in the firmly shut coffin of the ‘team GB’ fiasco – let anyone dare challenge wales right to compete in international football now that the likes of gibraltar have been admitted….with the isle of man, jersey and guernsey to follow im sure..

  9. Keith Parry

    I used to go to St Helens in cira 1990. You could get in for nothing at 4pm towards the end of play. The bar was open when the pubs shut at 4pm.
    Wales should have a National Team and Glamorgan carry on in the county championship. Its not beyond the wit of man.

  10. mujtaba Parker

    Hi im from Cape Town South Africa and i firmly believe in development of cricketing nations.I would really love to see a seperate team for Wales.Thanks

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