Two long-time friends whose cricket connections go back to their schooldays have been selected to represent Wales in the inaugural Over-40s World Cup in South Africa next year.
Gareth John Maldwyn Edwards and Sion Elgan Morris are the two North Wales players in the 16-man Welsh squad which will compete at the tournament in Cape Town between February 17 and March 2, 2024.
The pair, both now 46, grew up playing for Clwyd county and Welsh Schools and were later in the same Colwyn Bay side which participated in the Liverpool and District Competition First Division in 2003 and 2004.
Right-arm off-spinner Gareth will captain Wales out in Springbok land, while Sion is selected as a specialist batsman.
Sion, who has scored in the region of 14,000 Liverpool Comp runs for Colwyn Bay, is coming off the back of a season where his club won the Welsh Cup.
The right-hander hit 125 in a memorable semi-final victory over Cardiff and struck 76 as the Bay defeated holders Swansea by seven wickets in the final.
Sion said: “Obviously I’m absolutely delighted to be picked for the World Cup and chuffed that I’ll be going with one of my oldest mates in cricket (Gareth). I’ve always said that I wanted to play with him again before our careers ended and this has been the perfect way to do it.
“We played 2 fixtures together against England Over 40’s last season so to be able to go to a World Cup on the back of that is a great feeling.”
Asked if he thought his Welsh Cup heroics helped him gain World Cup selection, the St Asaph-born player said: “I hadn’t really thought about it like that. I suppose scoring runs would have helped but that wasn’t part of the focus at all – it was just about winning games for Colwyn Bay.”
He added: “Representative cricket is something that I thought had long passed me by but the introduction of Masters Cricket has not only given cricketers the wrong side of 40 the opportunity to prolong this side of their playing careers, it’s given us the chance to play/catch up with old friends from around the world.
“England’s assistant coach is Andre Nel, who played for us in 2003 so to be able to see him again and catch up with him has been brilliant.”
For many years, Sion was a Wales Minor Counties international.
He debuted in 1998 against Cornwall and up to 2003, represented the team in 12 Championship matches.
His MCCA Knockout Trophy debut for the team came in 2001 against the Worcestershire Cricket Board.
From 2001 to 2004, he represented the team in four Trophy matches.
Sion’s debut List A appearance for WMC came in the third round of the 2002 Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy against Durham.
From 2002 to 2004, he represented the team in four List A matches, the last of which came against Middlesex.
At club level, he has lifted the Welsh Cup twice with Colwyn Bay, in 2015 and 2023, won the LDCC First Division title in 2015 and was ECB Premier League runner-up in 2006.
Gareth, who hails from Ruthin, is a former Glamorgan and Wales Minor Counties player.
He was Robert Croft’s understudy as Glamorgan’s off-spinner in the 1990’s.
Gareth played a single Youth Test for England Under-19s against Zimbabwe Under-19s in 1995/96. His selection followed a successful season for Glam in the Second Eleven Championship which included a career best 7-29 against Notts Seconds.
He featured in the Third Test against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo and took 4-48 and 2-48 as England won by an innings and 44 runs. Also in the tourists’ side were Andrew Flintoff, Gareth Batty and Owais Shah.
Having played in the Glamorgan Second XI since 1994, Gareth made his only first-class appearance for the Welsh county against Oxford University in 1997.
In 1998, he played in the Minor Counties Championship for Wales against Shropshire and Cornwall, and featured in a single MCCA Knockout Trophy match versus Hertfordshire.
Following the end of his cricket career, he moved to Manchester where he worked for the BBC as a researcher for A Question of Sport.
He currently plays for Elton in the Greater Manchester Cricket League.