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105 ICC Members: Should Wales have a national cricket team?

Wales is undoubtedly a sporting nation. With a population of only three million people, the reputation of both the football and rugby teams have reached substantial heights in recent years. However, there is one sport in particular that the nation is yet to conquer; cricket.

The England, Scotland and Ireland cricket teams have all, at some point, made headlines on the biggest stage of the sport… so where are Wales? Well, the full name for England cricket is The England and Wales Cricket Board or The ECB – with the W completely removed.

It’s safe to say that Wales receives little to zero representation when the England cricket team plays. The Three Lions symbol is used as the kit badge and they play under the St. George flag with the Welsh dragon nowhere in sight.

With this sort of under-representation, what exactly is stopping Wales from forming its own national team and taking their place as the 105th member of the ICC? The simple answer is that both Cricket Wales (the national governing body of cricket in Wales) and Glamorgan County Cricket Club have shown continuous support for the ECB.

In 2011, former Glamorgan chief executive Alan Hamer stated that a national Welsh cricket team would have serious financial repercussions on the club. However, the recent financial state of the English game is extremely below par. A BBC investigation found out that Glamorgan were the only first-class county to have made a profit between 2014 and 2016 without any ECB income.

Despite the continued support for the ECB and Glamorgan showing no support for a Welsh team, cricket in Wales still remains to be an extremely popular sport. At the end of 2014, there were an estimated 614 senior teams with over 15,000 junior and senior members – according to Cricket Wales’ strategic plan.

Welsh cricket development pyramid

There have been numerous calls for a Welsh national cricket team over the years, most recently, a short-lived Twitter account “@WelshIntCricket” was created during the 2019 Cricket World Cup which quickly gained over 500 followers in less than a month.

Welsh football icon, Dean Saunders appeared to show his support for a Welsh side when he appeared on talkSPORT and displayed his strong feelings towards the underrepresentation of Wales at the Cricket World Cup.

The absence of Wales on the national stage for cricket has been the topic of debate in the Welsh Senedd.

Conservative member Mohammad Asghar stated, “if Afghanistan can play world cricket, then for God’s sake Wales should.”

Former Labour First Minister, Carwyn Jones also called for the reintroduction of the Wales one-day team and said: “It is odd that we see Ireland and Scotland playing in international tournaments and not Wales.”

Furthermore, for the first time, Plaid Cymru made establishing a Welsh cricket team a commitment in its manifesto in 2016, although it did not become part of their budget negotiations with the Labour party.

If there was ever a time for a Welsh cricket team, it’s now. The Welsh rugby and football teams have put the country on the map with both reputations continuing to grow at a rapid pace – if Wales were to gain ICC status and form their own national side then nothing would stop them from making the front page of the sporting headlines once again.

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