Following our hugely encouraging start to life in white-ball cricket, eleven men took to the field in Wales and upon doing so, assumed the honour of becoming the nation’s first ever Test cricketers. Captain Ioan Powell won the toss and led his men out in front of a packed and passionate home crowd. The hosting skipper hoped that his bowlers could exploit the conditions following a delayed start due to rain. England’s opening batsmen strode to the wicket as Test cricket’s most experienced nation commenced battle with its newest inductee.
England 253 (78.3) Broad 49, Burns 48, Root 44/Khan 3-28, E.Williams 3-32, Evans 2-61
Experienced England may be, they looked anything but when Keaton Jennings (1) was run out early in the piece. Left-arm pace bowler Rhys Evans (2-61), who effected the run out, then had the pleasure of taking our first proper wicket, when he got Jonny Bairstow (26) to edge behind to wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas.
Part-time medium pacer Dylan Roberts (1-10) then struck with his first ball in international cricket. Rory Burns (48), who up to that point had looked in good touch, nicked behind to Thomas before forlornly trudging back to the sheds.
Captain Joe Root (44) alongside Ben Stokes (30) then batted well and looked to be batting England into a commanding position. The duo combined for 63 but both fell with the score on 160. Jos Buttler (2) and Chris Woakes (4) soon followed at the hands of leg-spinner Eifion Williams (3-32). At that point the tourists had slumped from 160-3 to 171-7.
Following the clatter of wickets, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad applied themselves extremely well in a partnership of 58 to frustrate our side. Broad was particularly effective when sweeping the spinners. Off-spinner Maxwell Khan managed to oust Archer (29) late in the day before England closed on 232-8.
It had been a riveting and engrossing first day of Test cricket and left everybody, players and fans, craving more!
On day two, Khan (3-28) soon wrapped up the England innings. First he trapped James Anderson (5) LBW. Then he had top scorer Broad (49) hole out to the one and only fielder on the leg side. We’d bowled England out for 253, an outstanding effort in our first innings in Test cricket.
Wales 152 (28.2) Roberts 59, Thomas 42, E.Williams 18/Leach 5-8, Broad 4-39, Anderson 1-39
Our opening batsmen both got off the mark in James Anderson’s first over. Sadly however, our Test bow quickly turned sour when Stuart Broad rolled his arm over. Not content with sweeping 49 runs, he tempted Stephen Shah (2) to edge a delivery that he needn’t have played at. Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler dived full stretch and down low to claim an outstanding grab. Two balls later, an ill-disciplined Aled Edwards (1) wafted away to give the Broad/Buttler combo a second wicket. Captain Ioan Powell then suffered the ignominy of registering a golden duck on Test debut. Fortunately, teenager Maxwell Khan then managed to see out the remainder of the over without further damage. Unfortunately he couldn’t see out the following James Anderson over and as a result, we were in dire straits at 9-4! By lunch, we’d progressed to 12-4.
Our phlegmatic number three, Dylan Roberts and enigmatic number six, Eifion Williams, then applied themselves superbly to save us from complete ignominy. The pair posted 44 before Williams joined the Broad/Buttler procession. Possibly surprised by the bounce, he probably didn’t need to play at the delivery. From there, gloveman Rhodri Thomas knuckled down alongside Roberts. By the time beverages were served, the duo had helped haul us from the depths of despair on debut to a far more respectable 92-5.
Roberts and Thomas took their partnership to 62 before the former made a regrettable decision. After scoring a single from spinner Jack Leach’s first delivery then watching from the non-striker’s end as the Somerset man turned the ball away from the batsman, he opted to leave the first delivery of the Leach’s second over. The ball promptly spun the other way, stumps shattered and Roberts was gone. Still, after posting two fifties in the ODI series, Roberts (59) had looked like a batsman of Test calibre to rescue his team from the undesirable score of 9-4.
Cai Hughes (5) then failed to overturn an LBW decision as Leach and England turned the screw. Dwayne Alexander (15), who attacked briefly, Rhys Evans (0), who suffered the same fate as his skipper, and finally Thomas (42), who had batted extremely well, all fell to Leach, as he claimed astonishing figures of 5-8. Jofra Archer didn’t even bowl!
We finished 152 all out from only 28.2 overs but having been 9-4, it was a commendable effort in our first ever Test innings. In truth, we probably over achieved in the ODI series and facing the likes of Anderson and Broad with a red ball, not to mention Leach, taught us some harsh truths!
England 334 (95.3) Jennings 81, Buttler 61, Burns 59/Evans 3-70, Hughes 2-49, Powell 1-6
England then cemented their authority courtesy of a far too easy 93-run opening stand between lefties Burns and Jennings. Not long before the close, leggie Eifion Williams (1-61) did at least force Burns (59) to drag onto his stumps but by the end of day two, England had moved to 105-1, a lead of 206.
Day three started like the two before it, delayed because of rain!
Jennings and Bairstow then ploughed on into the middle session before we effected a mini-fightback. First, Rhys Evans had Jennings (81) nick to slip, then he accounted for Root (12), caught behind. In between, Bairstow (39), was run out via a direct hit from Cai Hughes. England had stuttered from 173-1 to 196-4 but the lead had swelled to over 300.
Stokes (19) and the more assertive Buttler then steadied England with a fifty partnership before the former edged to slip. His dismissal ended an unusually subdued innings and provided Hughes with a maiden Test wicket. At tea on day three, England were 264-5, the small matter of 364 runs ahead!
Not content with one wicket, Hughes (2-49) promptly doubled his tally immediately after tea. The left-arm spinner had Woakes (1) caught behind to the very first delivery of the evening session. He was unlucky not to send Jofra Archer packing too. Buttler soon passed fifty however but failed to convert. Captain Ioan Powell boldly chose to take the new ball and just three deliveries later, Evans (3-70) had his third innings of the wicket when Buttler (61) swung wildly and edged to Thomas.
Archer (21) then needlessly ran himself out. Hughes the thrower from the deep once again! Captain Powell (1-6) then returned for a trundle and should’ve had James Anderson LBW as his first Test wicket. The umpire wasn’t in the mood however but did at least give Broad (20) out in the same over. Express pace bowler Dwayne Alexander (1-53) did then tempt the officials to adjudge Anderson (14) LBW as he too claimed a maiden Test victim. Sadly, opening bowler Osain Williams remained wicketless just as in the first innings. His match figures read 31-1-97-0. We had however performed admirably to restrict England to 335 after they had been 173-1. Unfortunately, that still left us requiring 436 to win!
Wales 198 (44.4) Hughes 31, Khan 30, Thomas 24/Broad 3-41, Archer 2-22, Anderson 2-37
Only four over remained in the day’s play but sadly Aled Edwards (8) couldn’t survive. The left-hander was caught at slip by Jennings off the bowling of Anderson in the third over. Stephen Shah and Dylan Roberts made it to the close on 25-1.
After yet another rain delay and negating a James Anderson over on day four, Shah (17) was trapped plumb LBW in Broad’s first over of the morning. He’d looked comfortable up to that point but was done for pace and even a review couldn’t save him. Captain Ioan Powell, on a pair, strode to the crease with his team 33-2.
The skipper avoided the ignominy of a pair on Test debut but when his team needed their leader to set the standard, he played a horrible drive, away from his body to the last ball of a Broad over and trudged back to the pavilion with only six runs to his name. Roberts (20) then soon edged Archer’s first ball of the match (?!) to leave us in peril at 56-4. Another brief little partnership ensued but just as things were looking up, Eifion Williams (5) defended a ball that he could’ve left and feathered Archer (2-22) to Buttler, giving the Sussex man two wickets in as many overs. That left us 74-5.
Maxwell Khan (30) compiled 41 with wicketkeeper Thomas but like too many batsmen before him, edged a ball that he didn’t need to play at. After bedding in and surviving Jack Leach’s first over, Khan was possibly looking to up the tempo when just plodding on against the returning Anderson (2-37) would’ve been better.
Thomas was another who couldn’t resist the corridor of uncertainty. To be fair to the wicketkeeper, his was probably a little narrower as Leach (1-26) probed for what would be a first wicket of the innings. Thomas (24) could hold his head up high however after an excellent effort both with bat and gloves on Test bow.
Cai Hughes and Dwayne Alexander then put together another partnership of sorts. Alexander (22) chopped onto his stumps however with the score on 149 to gift Chris Woakes his first wicket of the Test. After yet another mini-partnership, Woakes (2-56) accounted for innings top scorer Hughes (39) before Broad (3-41) wrapped up the match by having Evans (22) nick to slip. Our total of 198 from 44.4 overs was a healthy improvement on our first innings effort both in terms of runs scored and duration. From 74-5 we achieved 198. In fact, in our second innings seven of our dismissed batsmen reached double figures. Our lower order put some of our specialist batsmen to shame. It was just frustrating that with so many players getting starts, nobody passed 31. Seven batsmen were dismissed between 17 and 31.
Lost by 237 runs
Despite what looks a thumping loss on the face of it, we performed admirably in our first ever Test. Against a full strength England side, we bravely chose to bowl, dismissed them for sub 300, recovered from 9-4 to score 152, hauled them back from 173-1 to 334 then improved second time around with the bat. It won’t get much tougher than facing England in those conditions. Thank you to all those who supported the Welsh team in the country’s inaugural Test match.
Next up is likely a short T20I tour of the Netherlands. Look out for a report from the continent soon.