Wales U12 boys’ team has won the prestigious Taunton Festival for the second year running.
Their success follows that of the Wales U17 girls, who won the same tournament this year for the seventh successive time.
Following a week of outstanding cricket, the U12 boys followed Sussex and Essex as only the third team to retain the title.
Wales U12 v Worcestershire
Disappointingly, heavy rain on the first morning delayed play and all matches were reduced to T20 games. Batting first Worcestershire could only score 84-8 from their allotted 20 overs, against some accurate Wales bowling and excellent fielding. Off spinners Ioan Phillips (Carmarthenshire) with 3-6 and Sean Buchannan (Eryri) 2-21 were the pick of the bowlers as Worcestershire failed to get any real momentum into their innings. A high spot of the week was the outstanding Wales fielding, which was exceptional in this game with some very good catches, two run outs and excellent ground fielding. In reply, Wales had little difficulty in reaching their target with Ollie Robson (27) leading the team to a comfortable 5 wicket victory and 15 Festival Points.
Wales U12 v Yorkshire
Wales started this game poorly and Yorkshire raced to 47, before losing their first wicket in just eleven overs. The introduction of spin through captain Luc Rees (West Glamorgan) and off spinner Ion Phillips, produced more control and the disciplined bowling gradually got Wales back into the game. However, at 132-4 it looked like Yorkshire were going to build a useful total. Steffan Crimp (Cardiff and Vale) had other ideas and in a fantastic spell of 4-15, Yorkshire were reduced to 156-9 from their 50 overs. In reply, Wales made a good start with Alex Horton (Gwent) scoring a brisk 29, as Wales reached 64-2. A flurry of wickets then saw Wales slip to 86-6 and seemingly out of the game. However, wayward Yorkshire bowling, coupled to a spirited 7th wicket partnership of 46 between Joe Westwood (Gwent) (23) and Jac Lloyd (Cardiff and Vale) (15) took Wales to the brink of victory, before both were dismissed. The game was on a knife edge and the result was still in doubt when the ninth Wales wicket fell at 154. However, last pair Ollie Robson (Gwent) and Luc Rees kept their nerve to edge Wales to an excellent 1 wicket victory. Wales picked up a very pleasing 16 Festival points.
Wales U12 v Essex
Essex got off to a fast start in this match racing to 80-2 before the Wales bowlers gradually got on top with Ioan Phillips, Joe Westwood and Steffan Crimp taking two wickets apiece. It was a spirited fightback and Essex were reduced to 149 all out. In reply Wales made an excellent start racing to 96-2 in 30 overs, with Alex Horton (30) and Steff Evans (West Glamorgan) (29) scoring freely. However, another mini collapse saw Wales slip to 118-6 as the Essex spinners caused havoc in the Wales middle order. A spirited rear guard action saw Wales hang on for a losing draw at 139-9, to pick up 11 Festival points, from a game that they should have won.
Wales U12 v Somerset
A measure of the improvement in the Wales opening bowling was clearly evident in this match. Having bowled poorly in the previous two games against Yorkshire and Essex, the Wales opening bowlers made early inroads into the Somerset batting as Somerset slipped to 34-5, before being bowled out for a paltry 96. Steffan Crimp 4-15 and Luc Rees 4-19 were the pick of the Wales bowlers in a very disciplined bowling and fielding performance. Wales had little difficulty in reaching their target with Ben Hope-Bell (Gwent) (27) and Jack Parry (North East Wales) (24) leading Wales to a comfortable 5 wicket victory. Wales picked up 18 Festival points.
Wales U12 v Cornwall
Match Abandoned – Rain
With a 7 point lead in the league table going into the final round of matches, the abandonment of the final days play meant that Wales had won the Festival and retained the Trophy that they had also won last year.
John Derrick, performance manager at Cricket Wales, said: “Winning the Taunton Festival for the second year running was a fantastic achievement and was reward for the effort and hard work that the boys have put in throughout the season.
“It’s a credit to the coaching staff and management, too, to lift this title for the second year running.
“Coming straight after the girls U17s’ success, this is excellent news for the whole cricket community in Wales.”
Cricket Wales is the national governing body for junior and recreational senior cricket in Wales. It works closely with Glamorgan County Cricket Club, which governs the men’s professional game. For information visit www.cricketwales.org.uk