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We take life too lightly and sport too seriously

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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?

Jason Roy: In action for England against Australia

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?

Sport

Welsh Athletics celebrate success

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MORE than 200 people from all four corners of the country headed to the Vale Resort Hotel in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan on Saturday evening (October 19) to attend the annual Welsh Athletics National Celebration Awards Dinner for 2019.
The evening celebrated all the successes and achievements that happened across the sport of athletics in Wales over the last 12 months with a large number of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and club & group representatives in attendance.
There were twenty-eight awards up for grabs with an expert panel deciding on who the worthy winners were for each one. The awards were across a variety of categories…from clubs, groups and volunteers to officials, coaches and athletes.
Altogether, 22 individuals, 5 clubs and 1 group shared the awards on offer and were welcomed to the stage to be recognised for their contributions.
Hosts for the evening was ever-present Rob Cole and joining him on the stage this year was Mica Moore. Sam Gordon, Jeremiah Azu, Steve Perks, Matt Newman, James Williams, Dafydd Trystan and Kelly Southerton were others who spoke throughout the evening.
It was fantastic to receive confirmation a fortnight ago from the new Chair of Welsh Athletics, Steve Perks that Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club had been nominated to receive the Welsh Athletics Junior Off-Track Club of the Year award at this year’s awards dinner in the Vale Resort Hotel.
Present from the athletics club on the evening and joining other deserving winners from across Wales were Jake Morgan (Club Chairman), Cressy Morgan (Club Secretary), Richard Jones (Club Treasurer), Alison Thomas (Officials Secretary), Neil Thomas, David Toogood, Carol Jones and Delyth Brown (Club Endurance Coaches), Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan (Club under 15/17 Endurance Athletes) and Nathan Jones (Club Media Officer).
Cross Country and Road Running successes in 2018 and the start of 2019 from endurance young members contributed to the club winning this award in 2019.
The Welsh Athletics Clubs Cross Country Championships came to Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the first year back in February and saw the under-11 boys, under-13 boys, under-15 boys and the Female Master 40 teams come away with gold medals on home turf whilst there were bronze medals for the under-11 girls.
The under-13 boys and under-15 boys were victorious at the 2018 Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships to match their cross-country championships titles. Back in September, the under-11 boys and under-13 boys came away with comfortably victories at the recent 2019 edition of the Road Relays Championships and have got off a great start to the 2019 winter season in October.
The under-11 boys and under-13 boys also became John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League team champions backed up by second place for under-13 girls and third for the novice girls.
Two of Carmarthen Harriers’ endurance athletes Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan, both pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin were there to go up and collect the award on behalf of the whole club.
Another to be recognised locally in West Wales was coach Kevin Evans who continues to coach athletes at the track in Carmarthen and a great supporter of the club. After collecting the Endurance Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, Evans was the recipient of the “International Performance Coach of the Year” this time around.
President the award on stage was local Carmarthenshire athlete and one of Kevin’s training group, Dewi Griffiths who hopes to be back to full fitness soon.
International athletes in Wales voted for their “Athletes’ Athlete of the Year” and announced as the winner was Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Lewis, who enjoyed a great season on the race-walking circuit. Elsewhere, James Tomlinson was the “Junior Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” It was a double success here with his coach Paul Jensen, the “Track & Field Performance Coach of the Year”.
Swansea Harriers picked up both the “Off Track Club of the Year” in the older categories whilst the juniors enjoyed success too and as a result, won the “Junior Track & Field Club of the Year”.

 

photo credit: welshathletics.org

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Sport

Rain, rain, go away…

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LAST WEEK, two Manderwood Pembrokeshire Football League games dodged the rain.
After a week in which torrential rainfall was interrupted only by the occasional deluge, only one fixture was completed.
You have to feel for poor St Florence.
Through rain and tempest, they made the trip north to Solva, only to come away on the wrong side of a 9-1 shellacking by the home team.
Solva’s goals came courtesy of Joe Nash, Rhys Rivers, Tom Goodson, a hat-trick from Liam Thomas, two goals from Josh Bland, and one from James Griffin. Jake Webster scored the visitors’ only goal.
Every other game in Pembrokeshire was washed out. League organisers will be hoping that the weather breaks soon to allow the season to get back on track.
Solva’s victory was not the only game of football played in Pembrokeshire, however.
Once more Goodwick United defied the weather and completed a handy 3-1 win over Rockspur Fords in the West Wales FA Cup.
The visitors, who play in the Swansea League Division One, are a form team and must have fancied their chances at Phoenix Park. Goodwick are a tough team to beat, however, and they contested fiercely in appalling conditions for football.
Goals from Rhys Dalling and James Bryan gave Goodwick a 2-0 half-time lead.
On a blustery and soaking wet afternoon, Goodwick simply played the conditions better and there was more than enough niggle to go round in the slippery conditions.
Even conceding an early spot-kick midway through the second half didn’t deter Goodwick. With the score at 2-1 and time ticking down, a Jordan Griffiths free-kick snaked its way into the visitors’ net to clinch the tie 3-1 and leave Goodwick a step closer to a final at the Liberty Stadium next year.
Clarby Road were glad to have two pitches available for them. With the first team pitch unplayable, the second team one was judged fit for play for the second round WWFA Cup fixture against Llanelli’s Camford team.
While the conditions were foul, the pitch held up well.
As the halfway point in the first period approached, Ben John produced a screamer from outside the area to give Clarby the lead. One became two shortly afterwards when Matt Griffiths headed home a well-directed corner. Shortly before half-time, Ben John added another goal to give the homesters a 3-0 lead.
Undeterred, Camford scrapped hard in the second half and pulled a deserved goal back with a fine strike from Ben Bowler.
Clarbeston Road repelled another promising Camford attack before regaining a three-goal cushion, as Ben John completed a fine hat-trick.
With conditions closing in, Joules Ward added a fifth for the home team.
A final result of 5-1 in increasingly poor conditions was a fair reward for Clarby, even if it left an always striving Camford a little short-changed.

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Milford Ladies brave the elements

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Llandysul 3 – 0 Milford Haven
Saturday, October 26

ON A very wet, cold and windy day Milford ladies travelled to Ceredigion to play Llandysul this week. Both teams started well with some good hockey being played on both sides however, it was Llandysul who got the first game after 10 minutes.
Milford Haven pressed for an equaliser for the remainder of the first half but, although playing, the better hockey they had no luck finding the back of the net.
Due to the inclement weather, both teams agreed to a quick turnaround at half time.
Milford played well from the start of the second period, striving to get back into the game; however, after numerous chances and a fair share of bad luck, they ended up defending against one of the best teams in the division.
In spite of Milford Haven’s stern defence, it was only a matter of time before Llandysul forced several short corners and with ten minutes to go, they were able to score a brace of goals making it a three-nil win for the home side.
Rachel Coe Milford’s captain said: “It’s so disappointing to lose on the road once again. I cannot fault the determination in this very young Milford team. Just like Wales, they gave their all but it wasn’t to be our day. We have a free week this week, so it will give us time to get over it and look forward to our next encounter”
Milford Team
Emilie Zatac, Vicki John, Meg Bowen-Jenkins, Lucy Jayne, Kate Farr, Charlotte Davies, Em Sums, Cerys Jones, Alice Wonnacott, Rachel Coe, Cerys Dunn, Megan Owen, Cerys Dunn

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