PEMBROKESHIRE’s talented young cricketers gained valuable experience against the best Under 17s players across Wales as the county club took on that particular age group at the Carew ground.
The county selectors had chosen to use this fixture to allow our young players to savour what selection for Pembrokeshire means, and it proved to be very successful because although the county club lost they pushed their opponents all the way.
It might have been a lot closer but for the fact that they were unable to make use of ten of their 50 overs and so paid the price.
The Welsh innings opened with a solid opening stand between Connor Davies (26) and James Archer (22) before the latter was run out for 22 and Davies was well caught by Kurtis Marsh off Jamie Smith.
Tom Bevan chipped in with 20 before he also departed as Noah Davies, when caught him off Kieran O’Connor’s spin bowling, so that at 76 for 3 the county could sense a chink in the Welsh armour.
Abergavenny’s Morgan Bevans joined forces with Scott O’Leary (Sudbrook) in a terrific partnership of 167 runs, before O’Leary was bowled by Pembrokeshire’s skipper Ceri Brace for a powerful 71, that included three fours and three sixes.
Bevans made the county regret an early dropped catch as he plundered 10 fours and a six in his classy 116 before he departed to a catch by O’Connor, with Noah Davies as the bowler, in a late chase.
Greg Thomas (Swansea Civil Service) chipped in with a late 20 not out and so the Welsh Under 17s ended up with 299 for 4 from their allotted 50 overs, with their final tally boosted by 24 extras.
Pembrokeshire made an excellent start to their response as openers Kurtis Marsh and Nikhil Mathias looked quite at home against Wales’ early pace attack as they moved comfortably to 110 without loss.
Mathias was bowled by James Meggitt for 23 - and as so often happens after a big partnership, the vital wicket of Marsh fell seven runs later as he gave a return catch to Tom Bevan, having stroked 11 fours in his peerless half century knock of 65.
The arrival of ‘spin twins’ Greg Thomas and Anush Patel (Cardiff) into the Welsh attack caused more problems for the county batsmen, who built solid starts via Iwan Izzard (19), Tom Scourfield (13) and Noah Davies (30) but were unable to find a substantial score to stiffen the innings.
Shaun Whitfield belted two sixes in a typically quick-fire 18 but wickets fell cheaply at the other end as Patel (4 wickets for 40) and Thomas (3 wickets for 46) were supported by very tight fielding.
Only John Mansbridge ever looked comfortable in the lower order as he came in at No 9 and struck three sixes in his undefeated 25 and there were 30 extras as a bonus, but the county wasted those over and finished on 232.
Yet, it was a cracking game of cricket in which the young players of Pembrokeshire certainly played their part.
Wales Under 17s Batting: Connor Davies ct Kurtis Marsh b Jamie Smith 26; James Archer run out 22; Tom Bevan ct Noah Davies b Kieran O’Connor 20; Morgan Bevans ct Kieran O’Connor b Shaun Whitfield 116; Scott O’Leary b Ceri Brace 71; Greg Thomas not out 20; Anush Patel not out 2. Extras 24. Total (4 wickets) 299. Pembs Bowling: Johnny White 8-0-66-0; Jamie Smith 8-0-67-1; Shaun Whitfield 10-0-39-1; Kieran O’Connor 10-1-35-1; Ceri Brace 7-0-31-1; Noah Davies 7-0-31-0.
Pembroke CCC Batting: Kurtis Marsh (Kilgetty) ct & b Tom Bevan 65; Nikhil Mathias (Haverfordwest) b James Meggitt 23; Iwan Izzard (Cresselly) ct Tom Bevan b Tomos Jones 19; Tom Scourfield (Carew) ct Greg Thomas b Anush Patel 13; Noah Davies (Llangwm) ct Morgan Bevans b Anush Patel 30; Ceri Brace (Carew) b Greg Thomas 2; Shaun Whitfield (Carew) ct Anush Patel b Greg Thomas 18; Kieran O’Connor (Haverfordwest) ct Scott O’Leary b Anush Patel 2; John Mansbridge (Saundersfoot) not out 25; Jamie Smith (Neyland) ct James Archer b Anush Patel 0; Johnny White (Haverfordwest) ct Scott O’Leary b Greg Thomas 0.Extras 30. Total (all out) 232. Wales Under 17s Bowling: Elliott Rees 6-0-23-0; T Jones 7-1-26-1; J Meggitt 7-0-41-1; T Bevan 4-0-43-1; G Thomas 7-0-46-3; N Patel 6-0-40-4.