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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

Harrison Allen: Herbie see off Llanrhian to go through

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HERBRANDSTON continued their good early season form as they booked their place in the quarter finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl on Tuesday night (May 24).

They beat Llanrhian by four wickets having bowled them out for just 92.

Charlie Malloy made the breakthrough for Herbie before Dean John bowled Jack Jones on a score of 10.

Nigel Delaney was then bowled by Malloy and Llanrhian were reduced to 34-3.

Jon Strawbridge and Iwan James then shared 35 runs for the fourth wicket as they looked to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

However, James was bowled by Kristian Bennett on a score of 18 and soon after Strawbridge was caught by Ben Aldred off the bowling of Harry Nicholas on a score of 16.

More wickets followed for Bennett who finished with excellent figures of 5-13.

Herbie lost a wicket early in reply but a second wicket stand of 49 between Jack and Harry Nicholas got their side moving.

Jack scored 36 but he was then trapped leg before by Gwynant Watson and soon after he also Harry caught on a score of 16.

Dean John was bowled by Tom Clarke before Kristian Bennett’s score of 15 took Herbie to within touching distance of their target.

Jonathan Bennett fell for a first ball duck to Clarke but Charlie Malloy finished unbeaten on 9 to see Herbie over the line.

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Sport

Carew book place in Harrison Allen quarter finals

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CAREW booked their place in the quarter finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl on Tuesday night (May 24) as they beat Saundersfoot by 22 runs.

Two of Division 1’s form teams met and they didn’t disappoint with over 350 runs scored on the night.

Carew won the toss and batted first and they were able to reach 187-8 off their 22 overs.

Tim Hicks and Nick Davies got their side off to a fine start with a first wicket stand of 98 runs.

Hicks his six fours and two sixes in his score of 53 but he was then caught by Scott Helmich off the bowling of Neil Powling.

Davies hit three fours and four sixes as he scored 54 but he saw himself caught by Yannic Parker off the bowling of Nav Kawale.

Luke Hicks did not last long in the middle as he was bowled by Powling as Carew were reduced to 122-3.

Rhys Davies and Ian Sefton then shared 49 runs for the fourth wicket as they took Carew’s score towards 200.

Saundersfoot began to hit back though as they had Davies out for a score of 23 before Sefton was caught by Tom Mansbridge off the bowling of John Mansbridge on a score of 22.

Mansbridge also bowled Simon Wood and Jack Franklin bowled James Hinchliffe.

That meant that Saundersfoot would need 188 to win the game and having chased down 198 against Cresselly at the weekend they would have been confident of doing so.

Tom Mansbridge and Scott Helmich opened up for the visitors and they shared 67 runs for the first wicket.

Shaun Whitfield made the breakthrough as he trapped Mansbridge leg before on a score of 42.

Soon after, Simon Wood bowled Helmich on a score of 24 and he then did the same to Sam Franklin.

Whitfield also claimed the wickets of John Mansbridge (19) and Jack Franklin (7) as Saundersfoot slipped to 108-5.

Wood then also bowled Dom Green to make it 115-6 but Yannic Parker and Danny Brace began to offer some resistance.

Parker was out to Wood on a score of 13 before Nav Kawale, who had hit a quick fire 17 was caught and bowled by James Hinchliffe.

Sam Harts bowled Tudor Hurle and Brace was run out on a score of 21 as Carew sealed victory.

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Sport

Kilgetty through to Harrison Allen quarter finals

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KILGETTY booked their place in the quarter finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl on Tuesday (May 24) as they beat Pembroke Dock by five wickets.

Kilgetty won the toss and chose to field and they were able to bowl the Dock out for 129 with three balls of their innings to spare.

The home side lost Scott Griffiths and Tom Grimwood early on, both on scores of 5 and both bowled by Richard Cope.

Jake Davies made a score of 19 but he was bowled by Anthony Bevan as the Dock slipped to 40-3.

Billy Wood and Archie Hillier-Wood then shared 45 runs for the fourth wicket.

Wood hit two fours and a six in his score of 26 but he was then bowled by Levi Hughes.

The wickets continued to fall as Hughes then had Jamie White caught by Ollie Gamble before Geoff Marsh stumped Rhys Daley to give Jack Tucker his first wicket of the night.

That left the Dock on 113-6 and it soon became 118-7 as Hillier-Wood, who had hit two fours in his score of 36, was bowled by Hughes.

Hughes and Josh Bevan then ran out Euan McDonald and Nick Daley respectively before Hughes claimed his fourth wicket of the night to finish with figures of 4-22.

Kilgetty celebrate another of their wickets

Toby Poole started well for the visitors as he hit five fours in a score of 23 from 13 balls.

He had seen fellow opener Tom Lewis depart after being caught off the bowling of Billy Wood before being bowled by Wood.

Jack Parkinson and Richard Cope took over and they shared 59 runs for the third wicket.

Cope hit three fours and a six in his score of 31 but he was then caught by Connor Carroll off the bowling of Nick Daley.

Jack Tucker was bowled by Euan McDonald for a duck and the same bowler then had Parkinson, who had hit four fours in a score of 38, caught by Scott Griffiths.

That left Kilgetty on 103-5 and they still needed to get 27 runs in the final three overs.

Josh Bevan and Ollie Gamble held their nerve as they three fours and two sixes between them to help their side into the last eight of the competition.

Bevan finished unbeaten on 16 from 12 balls (1 four, 1 six) while Gamble was not out on 14 from 6 balls (two fours, 1 six).

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