Being the womb that gave birth to the sport of cricket and one of the Celtic countries that holds a strong cricketing history, there is little known about Welsh’s individual contribution towards one of the most popular sports on the planet today.
There has been a substantial number of Welsh cricketers (amongst the most well known being Robert Croft, Alastair Cook and Allan Watkins) to have played in the past; however, it has only been within the English umbrella that Wales’s talent have been able to come out of its shell.
Moreover, what seems more perplexing is the formation of independent teams for Scotland and Ireland. Scotland was recognised as a full fledged cricket team in 1994, while the Irish cricket team got its stature in 1993.
There are over 270 counties, associations, leagues (including the North Wales Premier League) and clubs are affiliated to the Welsh Cricket Association (WCA). Over the years, cricket fans have witnessed a change in the way cricket is played; the advent of Twenty 20 (T20) cricket has picked up enormous popularity, and has made the game enticing than ever before.
It is not only a change in the pattern, but with the game being commercialised by leaps and bounds (owing mostly to the Indian Premier League, an association that is lasting since the last three years; KFC Twenty20 Bash, the Australian T20 county cricket; and several other county competitions), there is an undoubtedly setback, both in terms of having a nationalised cricketing team and monetary profits, that WCA is being made to bear.
Coming from a country where cricket shares an equal reverence as that of religion, it seems hard to understand why a country that has been playing cricket since 1920’s is being deprived of its own national team. Cricket, being a sport that shares equal, if not more, popularity than football and rugby, for which there are Welsh national teams.
If we have a look at the ICC stand on this issue, players from England and Wales have been unified under a single team, authorized by the England and Wales Cricket Board (EWCB). Nevertheless, the cricket board has gone to advocate a silent “W” in its own name. Amidst cricket fans, English participation has always clouded over the Welsh; and more often that not, the team is represented as England instead of England and Wales.
The West Indian team, for that matter, is a multi nation team, and is represented rightly so. There isn’t a separate Jamaican team, for example, in the representation of West Indian cricket team.
Financially, there is enough support being invested into the English (and Welsh) side by the Welsh government. Despite the decision that was adopted in the run-up to the launch of ECB in January 1997 by those from within the game given the task of overseeing the transition from the previous bodies from which ECB was formed, it is important the Welsh government should appeal to individualize themselves as a separate cricketing nation.
The Welsh participation in the women’s cricketing world is counted in the English team. But in the 2005 European Championships, Wales was an independent team, and managed to secure a third position in the overall standings.
[Image courtesy: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01204/lords-cricket-grou_1204543c.jpg]