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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

Llangwm seal dramatic Harrison Allen win

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LLANGWM booked their place in the second round of the Harrison Allen Bowl as they beat Llechryd in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night (May 12).

In a low scoring game, Llechryd reached 104-9 in their 22 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat.

Llangwm were steady in their reply but they needed five runs off the final two balls. The first of those saw Llangwm take three and they were able to run two on the last to win the game.

Llechryd started well with John Curran hitting a four and a six in a score of 19 before he was bowled by Chris Inward.

Johnny Lewis reached a score of 13 but that proved to be unlucky as he was caught by Phil Llewellyn off the bowling of Joe Phillips.

Phillips also had the wickets of David Dunfee and Adam Betts while Inward bowled both Graham Keen and John Lumb as all four batsmen returned with ducks to their name.

Joe Mansfield spared Llechryd’s blushes as he hit four boundaries in a knock of 38 as they set Llangwm 105 to win the game.

Llangwm were in trouble early on in their reply as David Dunfee bowled Phil Llewellyn for a second ball duck and Joe Kiff on a score of 4 to leave them reeling on 10-2.

However, a third-wicket stand of 84 between Steven Mills and Noah Davies set Llangwm on their way to victory.

Llechryd hit back though as Andrew Fletcher denied Mills his half century as he was caught by Jonny Lewis on a score of 49.

Fletcher then trapped Luke Brock leg before wicket with the next ball to reduce Llangwm to 94-4.

Davies had made a good score of 30 but he was bowled by Graham Keen as the visitors were left needing five runs to win with time running out.

On the penultimate ball Chris Inward ran three and on the last, Matthew Kiff ran the two runs needed to win Llangwm the game in a thrilling finish.

The result also represented another mini shock as Division 1 side Llechryd exited the competition at the hands of their Division 2 opponents.

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Johnston send Tish packing in Harrison Allen

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DIVISION 3 side Johnston produced one of the early shocks of this year’s Harrison Allen Bowl as they knocked out Division 1 side St Ishmaels.

Johnston won the toss and chose to field and they did well to restrict Tish to a score of 99-7 from their 22 overs.

They were in trouble early on as Peter Bradshaw was caught by Chris Goodridge off the bowling of Mark Hicks.

Keegan Codd then took over as he had Harry Nicholas stumped by Liam Boswell, also on a score of 8, before getting the wickets of Brennan Devonald and Ieuan Hawkins.

Tish were reduced to 27-4 and that soon became five as Codd claimed figures of 4-16 from his six overs.

Andrew Williams and Lewis Rhead then steadied the innings for the visitors as they shared over 60 runs for the sixth wicket.

Williams made 25 before he fell to Lewis Boswell and Rhead made 36 before being bowled by Gary James.

There was little time for Tish to add any further runs and it meant that Johnston would need 100 to win.

Johnston lost opener Goodridge early but a stand of 41 from Leigh Walters and Geno Cleal set them on their way to victory.

Walters made 26 before being bowled by Lewis Rhead and soon after, Brennan Devonald had Josh Hicks caught on a score of 2.

Devonald then picked up the wicket of Cleal, who made a score of 23, as Tish began to hit back.

Lewis Boswell made a score of 10 as Johnston edged closer but it was a score of 11 not out from Liam Boswell to see their side over the line.

The winning Johnston team

Johnston captain Josh Hicks said: “An amazing team performance, Tish may have been missing a couple but so were we.

“Two years ago we couldn’t field a team in this cup. We’ve come along way, tonight is a real positive and just the start!”

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Bush qualifies for Paralympic games

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PEMBROKESHIRE’s Para-taekwondo star Matt Bush has qualified for the Tokyo Paralympic games this summer.

At the European Paralympic Qualification tournament, Bush, who is the current world champion, beat Hungary’s Zoltan Kiss 29-1 in the +75kg final.

Para-taekwondo will make its debut at this summer’s Paralympics with the competition set to take place from September 2-4.

Bush, from St Clears, became Britain’s first ever world champion in the sport in 2019 began his latest tournament in fine style, seeing off Roman Ivaniuk of Ukraine 38-2 in the semi-final.

Matt told BBC Sport that it felt ‘so good’ to have secured his spot in the team.

The heavyweight athlete has made quite the mark on the mats. He has medalled at the Korean Open, Oceania Para Taekwondo Championships and the Pan America Para Taekwondo Open.

The GB team for Tokyo will be officially announced later this summer.

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