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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

Town back on top as Neyland beat Cresselly

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THE top three in Division 1 are now separated by just four points following Saturday’s (Jul 14) results.

Haverfordwest moved back to the top of the table with a ten wicket win at home to Johnston while Neyland beat Cresselly to bring themselves back into the title race.

Johnston batted first and had it not been for a score of 65 from Hafiz Farooq, their score could have been a lot less than the 148 they posted.

Simon Holliday took four wickets for Town who then had Dai Davies and Ben Field finish unbeaten as they comfortably secured the win.

Cresselly batted first against Neyland but they were restricted to 170-9 with Simon Cole top scoring on 77.

There were three wickets for Henry Durrant who later finished not out on 20 see Neyland to victory. Andrew Miller scored 37 and Paul Murray scored 29 earlier in Neyland’s run chase.

It is the second time this season that Cresselly have been top going into the weekend’s fixtures only to find themselves knocked off top spot following a defeat.

Elsewhere, there were three centuries in the game between Llangwm and Kilgetty in a thrilling encounter at Pill Parks.

Matthew Kiff scored 105 for Llangwm in their total of 297-5 but it wasn’t enough as Ross Hardy scored 106 and Kurtis Marsh finished unbeaten on 113 to see Kilgetty to victory.

Whitland remain in fourth place after they beat St Ishmaels by 114 runs.

It was a day for the batsman as Matthew Davies finished not out on 101 while Jack Bowen added 58 runs.

That saw Whitland to an excellent total of 310-7 but Tish were unable to replicate that score. Daniel Howells did score 73 for the home side but they were eventually all out for 196.

Lawrenny earned an eighth win of the season on Saturday as they beat Burton by two wickets.

Burton batted first but were all out for 142 as Brad McDermott-Jenkins took three wickets for the visitors. Richard Jones was Burton’s top scorer with 40 runs.

Lawrenny had scores of 71 from Steve Lewis and 44 from Steve Campbell as they reached their target despite three wickets apiece from Jack Davies and Johnnie Scale.

Those results mean Haverfordwest are top of the table by a point from second placed Cresselly and by four points from Neyland.

Whitland are sixteen points behind Town in fourth place and cannot be counted out of the title race just yet.

At the other end, Johnston’s defeat means they are now 120 points from safety and with only 150 points left to play for, it seems they are destined for Division 2 cricket next season.

On Saturday (July 21), new leaders Haverfordwest are away as they take on Kilgetty. Neyland are also away as they take on Johnston while Cresselly visit St Ishmaels.

Whitland are at home to Burton and Lawrenny host Llangwm.

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Neyland hold off Kilgetty to win Duggie Morris

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NEYLAND won the Duggie Morris Cup for the fifth time in six years on Sunday (Jul 15), as they beat Kilgetty by 66 runs in an entertaining final.

Kilgetty had been set a target of 154 to win the match but some excellent bowling from Neyland saw them finish short on 87-9.

Earlier, it was Kilgetty who won the toss and chose to bowl first, giving their opponents the chance to set the first score.

The game was played at the home of Burton Cricket Club with excellent weather conditions and a good crowd was also in attendance.

However, Kilgetty soon had the upper hand as Kurtis Marsh caught Ashley Sutton on a score of 10 to give Jack Parkinson his first wicket.

Paul Murray only scored 13 for Neyland before being trapped leg before by Kurtis Marsh and he then bowled Andrew Miller for a score of 8.

Nick Koomen scored 12 before being caught by Richard Cope off the bowling of Toby Poole and Jack Parkinson claimed his second wicket when he had Patrick Bellerby caught by Poole for a score of 17.

Neyland were struggling to find the runs as Scott Jones only scored 6 before he was caught by Marsh for Parkinson’s third.

Henry Durrant offered some resistance with a score of 24 that included a big six but he was then bowled by Marsh.

Kyle Marsh then had Sean Hannon caught by Parkinson for a score of 13 and George Evans was caught by Tom Lewis off the bowling of Richard Cope.

Geraint Rees finished not out on 10 for Neyland as they limped to a total of 124-9 from their opening twenty overs.

Parkinson finished with excellent figures of 3-25, Kurtis Marsh with 2-10 and Kyle Marsh with 3-23 from his two overs.

Kilgetty then made a blistering start to their innings as they smashed their way to 73-0 off the first seven overs.

Their momentum was checked however as Hardy was caught by Sean Hannon off the bowling of Nick Koomen for a score of 39.

Toby Poole was out for a score of 1 to the bowling of Andrew Miller and Koomen then had Kurtis Marsh trapped leg before for a fine knock of 37.

Richard Cope was bowled by Miller for a duck as the run rate slipped. Liam Cullen scored 18 but he was then caught by George Evans off the bowling of Henry Durrant.

Geraint Rees also had Dafydd Bevan caught by George Evans and Patrick Hannon had bowled Kyle Marsh for a score of 6.

Rees then bowled Josh Gorman before Hannon had Jack Parkinson caught by George Evans.

Neyland’s brilliant performance in the field meant that Kilgetty’s lead was just 11 runs at the halfway stage.

Patrick Hannon (2-35), Geraint Rees (2-32), Nick Koomen (2-17) and Andrew Miller (2-11) all bowled well as they kept Kilgetty’s lead down.

Neyland were determined to get rid of that deficit as quickly as possible and although they lost Patrick Bellerby for a score of 11, caught by Poole off the bowling of Parkinson, and Ashley Sutton for a score of 1, brilliantly stumped by Poole off the bowling of Cope, Paul Murray and Nick Koomen set the All White on their way.

Murray top scored with 56 runs and he shared 55 runs with Nick Koomen who went on to score 47.

Koomen was then bowled by Toby Poole while Murray was caught by Gorman off the bowling of Kyle Marsh.

Henry Durrant then scored 17 before he was run out and Scott Jones scored nine before being bowled by Hardy.

Sean Hannon also fell to the bowling of Hardy as Kilgetty hit back as they themselves looked to keep Neyland’s lead down.

Neyland finished their second innings on 164-7 meaning Kilgetty would need 154 to win the final.

Kilgetty’s reply did not get off to the best of starts as Kurtis Marsh was caught by sub fielder Steve Murray off the bowling of Patrick Hannon for a duck.

Ross Hardy made a score of 15 but was then bowled by Andrew Miller who also had Liam Cullen stumped by Sean Hannon.

Toby Poole batted well for a score of 31 but he was again stumped by Hannon off the bowling of Andrew Miller.

Dafydd Bevan also played well for a score of 29 but Geraint Rees forced him down the track leaving Hannon to claim a third stumping.

Kilgetty’s chase then faltered as no other batsman made it into double figures as Kyle Marsh was caught by Steve Murray off the bowling of Henry Durrant for a score of 1 and he then had Richard Cope superbly stumped by Hannon for a duck.

Rees picked up another wicket as he had Tom Lewis caught by Sean Hannon who then claimed a fifth stumping of the innings as he sent Josh Gorman back to the pavilion with a score of 4 to give Rees his third wicket.

Unfortunately for Kilgetty Ian Poole picked up an injury earlier in the day meaning he was unable to bat and their innings came to a close on 87-9.

That gave Neyland victory and they celebrated winning the Duggie Morris for the fifth time in six years.

Nick Koomen was awarded the Man of the Match trophy and winning captain Sean Hannon was presented with the Duggie Morris trophy.

 

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Kilgetty face Neyland in Duggie Morris Final

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KILGETTY and Neyland are set to face each other in the final of this year’s Duggie Morris tournament on Sunday (Jul 15).

The final will be played at Oatfield Park, home of Burton Cricket Club, and is set to start at 12pm.

Neyland have had a close affinity with the tournament in recent years, winning it four years in a row between 2013 and 2016.

Their 2017 run was only halted by defeat in the semi-finals to holders Whitland but they will be keen to get their hands back on the trophy.

Kilgetty have not been in the final of the tournament since 1997, the last time they picked up the trophy, having also won it the previous year.

Now in their first final for 21 years, they will certainly want to show that they are not just there to make up the numbers.

The two teams have also met in the final once before, way back in 1972, and on that occasion it was Kilgetty who came out on top.

Route to the final

Neyland made it through to the semi-finals as they beat Cresselly by five wickets thanks to an excellent century from Paul Murray.

Cresselly batted first and made a good total of 161-4 from their innings.

Although the home side took five wickets they were unable to stop Murray who finished not out on 100 to see Neyland through.

In the semis they met Haverfordwest and came out on top with a four wicket win. Town batted first but could only reach a total of 100-9.

Andrew Miller took four wickets for Neyland and he then scored 20 in their reply before being run out while Paul Murray scored 21.

Ashley Sutton then finished not out on 15 to see Neyland into the final.

Kilgetty began their route to the final with an excellent win over Hook in the first round after they smashed 227-4 from their 20 overs.

Hook were unable to match that total as they fell short on 116-8.

Kilgetty made it through to the last four as they beat Lawrenny by 18 runs and, batting first, they scored 125-7 with Kurtis Marsh top scoring on 66.

Lawrenny’s Harry Thomas took two wickets and Brad McDermott-Jenkins finished with figures of 2-16.

Thomas then scored 26 in Lawrenny’s reply but some excellent bowling restricted them well as they finished short of their target.

Marsh took three wickets for the loss of 18 runs while Toby Poole claimed two wickets for the home side.

They met holders Whitland in the semi-final and it was an excellent game. Whitland scored 181-3 in their innings only for Kilgetty to surpass that total.

They had scores of 46 from Kyle Marsh, 35 from Ross Hardy and 36 from Dafydd Bevan as they made it through to their first final since 1997.

Sunday’s final will be contested over two twenty over innings for each side and it will be important for both teams to hold an advantage at the halfway stage.

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