Cricket may never beat rugby and football in the popularity stakes in Wales, but it has a chance to cement a place as the country’s summer sport.
This is the message from Hugh Morris, Glamorgan County Cricket Club’s former captain and newly appointed chief executive and director of cricket.
He was speaking at a Cricket Wales and Glamorgan road show at the SWALEC stadium and was joined on a panel by Cricket Wales chief executive Peter Hybart, Glamorgan captains Jim Allenby and Mark Wallace and coach Toby Radford.
Mr Morris, who was part of an England and Wales Cricket Board hierarchy who oversaw three consecutive Ashes victories, has returned to his home county looking to galvanise Welsh cricket both professionally and locally.
He has only been back in Cardiff for 10 weeks, but is already shaping the blueprint for the future of Welsh cricket, he said: “The idea behind the seven cricket road shows is to try and spread the gospel of cricket.
“The club game in Wales is in a vibrant state but we must continually be looking to engage as many people in the sport as possible.”
Mr Morris conceded cricket will always be a weaker relation in Wales but there is a window in which it could really flourish, he said: “We are never going to be able to compete with rugby and football here in Cardiff.“What we do have though is a period from May to September where we have a great opportunity to establish cricket as the nation’s summer sport.”
Glamorgan were founded in 1888, yet despite a proud cricketing tradition the sport wasn’t fully ingrained into the national psyche, and Cardiff treated as a first class venue, until the SWALEC stadium made its test match debut in the 2009 Ashes series.
Mr Morris is fully aware of how vital holding international fixtures is to clubs like Glamorgan, he said: “As a club we are a very important member of the England and Wales Cricket Board, and this membership is vital to us.
“It gives us access to international fixtures which is the lifeblood of the club’s finances. We have a one-day game against India at the end of the summer and we are holding an Ashes test next year.
“Cricket like this is integral to Glamorgan, and we are currently putting together our bid for the post-2016 international programme.”
As well as the arrival of Hugh Morris Glamorgan have also welcomed a new head coach, Toby Radford, who was part of a West Indies set up who oversaw victory in the 2012 T20 World Cup.
While Radford, who hails from Glamorgan, is looking for short-term success he also recognises the need to put in place a longer-term plan to try and create a Welsh cricketing legacy. Obviously as a side we want to see results as early as possible, but this comes in front of a backdrop of a longer term strategy.
“It is a really good time to drive cricket in Wales, especially with the new initiatives being put in place by Hugh Morris.
“Bringing Welsh players through to the Glamorgan and then England side is the ultimate aim but the players have to be good enough, something we can control by ensuring a high level of coaching at the lower end.”
Glamorgan came second bottom of the county championship division two last season and while for Radford and Mr Morris promotion to division one is the ultimate goal this year, the lucrative commercial draw of T20 can’t be ignored.
Mr Morris said: “Our aspiration is promotion, and while the four day game isn’t as attractive to some the cricket is better, it’s the real test of your cricketing skills.”
“Championship cricket and T20 are good bedfellows however, and we’ll be playing our home T20 fixtures on Friday nights to try and get bottoms on seats and whet the appetite of Welsh cricket’s next generation.”