Saturday 2nd July will see the 1st XI travel to Ynysygerwyn CC and begin the second half of their league season. Results in the league this season have been mixed meaning they currently sit seventh in the table and looking for more consistent performance in the second half to firstly, ensure they do not get drawn into a relegation battle in the latter stages of August before pushing on for a secure top half position.
The season kicked off with a convincing win against Gorseinon. A league game in April is always a precarious one and there were a few nervous moments as Gorseinon won the toss and invited Cowbridge to bat first. A new look batting lineup without Ben Wright and Tom Merilaht set about setting a commanding score but slumped 64 for 5 before Bermudan International Cam Jeffers compiled a classy 91 not out off 103 balls to see Cowbridge set a total of 237 for 9 off their allocated overs. Gorseinon in reply were never in contention after their openers were removed in the first 2 overs by the metronomic Rhys Davies (3 for 27) and veteran Matt Smart (2 for 8). Jeffers then confirmed his man-of-the-match status taking 3 for 20 as Gorseinon were bowled out for 108. Cowbridge the victors by 129 runs and picking up the maximum 20 points.
Week 2 saw Cowbridge’s fortunes reverse as they travelled west to Carmarthen Wanderers. Carmarthen won the toss and elected to bat. With opener Owain Davies (101 not out) batting the full allocated 50 overs Carmarthen were able to post a daunting target of 271 to win. Despite contributions from Ghandi (37), Willey (30) and Cropper (29) wickets were lost at regular intervals and Cowbridge were bowled out for only 141.
Ynysygerwyn visited the Athletic Ground in week 3 and winning the toss elected to field. The wicket was surprisingly dry for early May and with the wicket prone to aiding the bowlers every now and again with some inconsistent bounce the batters found it challenging. Willey (34) led from the front and a handy 26 from new signing Aiden Little saw the home side host a competitive target of 162. A strong bowling performance was now required and Cowbridge got off to the perfect start as Ynys were pegged back to 2 for 3 after the first six overs. Unfortunately for Cowbridge, Nathan Davies found a way to survive and made his way to 53 which broke the back of the target and Ynys were able to get home with four overs to spare, winning by 3 wickets.
Following the defeat to Ynysygerwyn, Cowbridge made the trip to Ynystawe who are favourites to gain promotion to Prem1 this year and after 3 weeks sat at the top of the league table. Asked to bat first, Amari Ebbbin (30) and Jack Cropper (45) put on 70 for the first wicket and looked as though foundations were being laid for a commanding score. However, this soon became 91 for 3 and then 121 for 7. A rearguard effort by Smart, Davies and Little saw Cowbridge post a total of 192-8 off their allocated overs. Despite this, a strong bowling performance was going to be required to defend a modest total on a good wicket and small boundaries and with Smart and Wood picking up 3 wickets apiece and Rhys Davies another 2 it looked like an upset was going to be on the cards especially when Blake (58) was dismissed with a further 35 runs required and only the one wicket in hand. Skipper Willey rotated his spinners in the final overs but Ynystawe’s final pair managed to resist everything that was thrown at them to come out victors in what was a thrilling game played in fantastic spirit and in front of a partisan local crowd.
Coming off the back of two defeats a win was much needed against a strong Chepstow side. Chepstow won the toss and duly invited Cowbridge to bat first. Ebbin and Cropper again put together an opening partnership that went past 50 but it was Ghandi (89*) that enabled Cowbridge to post a decent total of 221 for 6. The new ball partnership of Davies and Smart again bowled economically and made inroads into the opposition batting line up but it was the spinners Jeffers and Wood who did the damage picking up 7 wickets between them and bowling Chepstow out of only 141.
Week 6 saw Cowbridge play host to Mumbles, a side that the club had not played against since the formation of Premier League cricket and who, having been relegated from Prem1 last year were looking to bounce straight back. Winning the toss they asked Cowbridge to bat first in an attempt to exert some pressure with their strong seam attack. Despite this Cowbridge were able to post a competitive total of 199 with Amari Ebbin top scoring with 82, Tom Williams – playing his first game of the season – 30 and Jeffers 29 before Caerwyn Jones chipped in with some lusty blows and a quick 16 in the final stages of the innings. Mumbles got off to an excellent start, passing 50 for the first wicket and seeing off the new ball and despite losing a couple of wickets looked in a strong position at drinks with the dangerous Aneurin Norman settled at the crease. It was however the Cowbridge spinners who again control of the second half of the innings with Jeffers taking 5 for 23 from 8 overs and Aiden Little picking up 2 for 13 as Mumbles were bowled out for 159.
Cowbridge travelled west to Llanelli the following week with a much-changed side. Cameron Jeffers and Amari Ebbin had travelled to Uganda to represent Bermuda in the ICC World Cup Challenge League and would be missing for 3 weeks. However, former Pakistan U19 World Cup all-rounder, Salman Saeed came into the side to make his debut for the club. Salman was due to have played earlier in the season but had unfortunately been involved in a road traffic accident which saw him knocked off his bike. Skipper Willey lost another toss and as is custom, Cowbridge were asked to bat first. The new opening partnership of Cropper and Williams got Cowbridge off to a bright start and thoughts turned to Cowbridge positing a defendable total. At drinks with the score at 93-2 the foundations had been laid. Unfortunately, the resumption of play saw Salman (20) dismissed to a stunning catch and Cowbridge slumped to 103 for 9 in the course of the next 5 overs. It was up to Wood (25) and Harris (9) to advance the score to 147 all out in just 44 overs. Unfortunately, this total was never going to be enough and despite the bowlers throwing everything at the Llanelli batting line up the target was passed in 29 overs for the loss of only 1 wicket.
Week 8 - Penarth – Cancelled due to weather without a ball being bowled
In the final fixture of the first half of the season, Cowbridge travelled to Pentyrch. Pentyrch had been promoted into the league at the end of 2021 and had put together a number of convincing performances which saw them sit second in the league. Cowbridge lost another toss and were invited to bat. Morning rain saw the game reduced to 48 overs a side and the forecast suggested that might be plenty of interruptions to play. Pentyrch set about their task in a confident fashion but despite some accurate bowling and plenty of chat in the field Cowbridge advanced to 104-2 off 23 overs before rain, thunder and lightening interrupted play. Cropper at the time was well set on 75 and seemed to be well on his way to his first league hundred. Unfortunately, the rain and hail that fell during an early tea break meant the game was abandoned with points shared.
Whilst performances in the league have been mixed, the sides results in the Welsh Cup have been really encouraging with emphatic wins against neighbours Bridgend, Craigaiu, Barry Athletic and then Penarth last weekend. These results have seen the side advance to the quarter final where they will now play Swansea, away, on the 17th July.