“Say that cricket has nothing to do with politics and you say that cricket has nothing to do with life,” said a famous cricket commentator once.
Cricket has certainly had plenty to do with the lives of three of Wales’ most prominent politicians who make guest appearances in Yes Ministers, the latest episode of the CC4 Museum of Welsh Cricket Podcast which drops at 10am this Friday (September 25).
The podcast series aims to bring you the very best stories from grassroots cricket in all corners of Wales, told by those most closely involved in the game that we all know and love.
This week’s guests, speaking to Stephen Hedges – son of Glamorgan stalwart Bernard – are First Minister Mark Drakeford, his predecessor Carwyn Jones and Health Minister Vaughan Gething. Whilst there has been little cricket to analyse this season, the trio will head down memory lane to recall some of their favourite players and moments from years gone by, and will offer their thoughts on, and messages for, the grassroots game in Wales in light of the postponement of all cricketing activities across Wales during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vaughan Gething says, “When I was at primary school, I didn’t want to be a politician. I wanted to be a cricketer. I guess if it’s your job, everything is a bit different but I’ve always loved playing cricket at any level.”
Mark Drakeford, though, says that he would have liked a career off the field, combining two of his greatest passions. “When I come back in the next life, I’ve already decided that I’m going to be a cricket groundsman! Maybe all those years of grief at my allotment in Pontcanna can be put to good use on the square at Sophia Gardens or St. Helen’s!”
Satisfied to be a keen viewer, cricket purist Carwyn Jones offers his thoughts on the direction that the game has taken at all levels in Wales. “I’ll watch any cricket, but I’m a little sceptical still of the T20 and The Hundred. How easy do you want to make it for the batsman just to keep belting the ball out of the ground? It’s got to be a battle between bowler and batsman.”
But all three also offer messages of hope and support for the grassroots game in Wales in light of Covid-19.
“Things will improve but it’s always been the case that any sport, including cricket, has relied on an army of volunteers and people do it for the love of the game,” says Carwyn Jones. “I know things are tough at the moment, particularly financially, but things will improve. No-one knows when but it won’t always be this way.”
Vaughan Gething says, “I hope that people will look at the way the international game is being broadcast and shown and realise that it only exists because there are people like us who love the game, whether at local level, people who want to turn out for their 4th and 5th teams, people who want to play with their teenage sons and daughters, people who want to make the teas, or people who want to turn up to nets and go out and play. You might even see me turn over some right-arm military medium in the next few years!”
Mark Drakeford is hopeful that recreational cricket will return stronger than ever in the future.
“I live right by Llandaf fields so I’m used to seeing a lot of recreational cricket going on in better times than we’ve had this summer. It’s still a thriving game at park level. We depend upon recreational cricket and club cricket to provide a conveyor belt of talented players into the first-class game. We’ve got to be hopeful that it continues to be rooted in communities and played in the way that it is.”
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