Around The Boundary Feature - Kevin Bowen a breath of cricketing fresh air

Kevin BowenThe Pembrokeshire Indoor Cricket League has a team in division two that represents the elder statesmen of the local game in the guise of the ‘Pembs Seniors’ and there is no doubt that one of their key players is Kevin Bowen, who also plays the outdoor game for St Ishmaels since moving into the area.
His performances as an all-rounder there earned him selection for the Wales Over 60s team and he enjoyed the trip of a lifetime when he was part of the squad which jetted out to India, where the World Over 60s Cup took place in the city of Chennai. He was joined by other Pembrokeshire players in skipper Richard Harris, Stuart Carpenter and Neal Williams - and they returned on the 4th March, having enjoyed some great cricket and with wonderful memories of a fantastic occasion for their age group.
Kevin certainly played his part in helping Wales achieve a very creditable sixth place out of 12 competing countries, with a top score of 39 and a few wickets at key times.
“We had a fantastic time which I will never forget,” he told us, “but my word was it hot!”

Played a lot of cricket in Hampshire . . .

Cricket has been an important part of his life since he set out in the game with his home village of Talybont on Usk as a teenager before switching to Hampshire, where he started a 30-year career with the county’s police force and played cricket in the Winchester area for St Cross and then for Bishop’s Waltham.
“At St Cross I played for the seconds, where I was used as a late-order pitch-hitter and occasional bowler, and the thirds, which I enjoyed more since I opened the batting and regularly scored 40+ and in the bowling stakes had a best of 4 for 20.
“We had five teams playing regularly in the Hampshire League which had 45 divisions, starting with three grades of premiership cricket which was used as a feeder league for Hampshire and then others moving down in terms of ability and commitment so that there was cricket aplenty for everyone.

Kevin Bowen and mother

. . . But took a breather with golf for a while!

“I played there for five seasons before I moved on to Bishop’s Waltham, eight miles outside Winchester, but soon discovered that the pitch wasn’t the best in the world and some of the players didn’t have the best attitude so after a while I took a breather and took up golf, which I had always wanted to try.
“To my surprise I took to it straight away and went down to 10-handicap in a relatively short time - and have continued to play at Milford Haven Golf Club, where I was made very welcome and am currently playing off 6-handicap.

Back to cricket at Bishop’s Waltham

“Then the cricket bug bit me again as I discovered Bishop’s Waltham had moved to a new ground and things were looking up there as they also welcomed overseas’ players to help raise the standards and there was a real buzz about the involvement.
“I played for the first team at one stage and had a few seasons as captain of the seconds, as well as being club chairman and other work I enjoyed doing as a general dogsbody. I had my first century in 2008 against Burridge Thirds and my best bowling figures were 7 for 16 - and I only just missed out on a second ‘ton’ in my last game there when I smashed 91 not out from only 36 balls but was denied three figures because we had reached the target for victory then!”

Kevin Bowen - is part of  Pembrokeshire Wales international quartet

Found their dream home near Tish

He and his wife of 28 years, Mandy, moved to their ‘dream home’ just outside Sandy Haven, just ten minutes from the local beach and a 20-minute walk from St Ishmaels’ cricket ground, where he was immediately made very welcome by Wendy Bradshaw and the players there, and indeed the village in general.
“Johnny Pawlett was the club captain at the time and I made my debut straight into the first team at Whitland and enjoyed a wonderful tea that reminded me of the ones that Mandy used to do in Hampshire - and belted a nice straight six and bowled a few overs on a pitch that was a credit to the club.

Enjoying an off-field involvement too

“Since then, I have become more and more involved, not only as a player but off it as the club’s vice chairman and groundsman, which keeps me very busy in the spring and summer after I took over from a great club servant in Mel Williams - but I really find it relaxing as I visit there most days preparing the wickets, with my Wales over 60s pal Stuart (Carpenter) sitting on a tractor a lot cutting grass!
“I am also vice-captain of the seconds, after a couple of years as skipper, and enjoy working with a great club character in Robbie Thomas, who has taken over the reins when he’s not in the first team.”

Kevin Bowen  hits big

Enjoying his cricket in the county . . .

In his short time with Tish he has already scored three centuries there against Haverfordwest, Pembroke Dock and Hundleton, where he also showed his hitting power in another game as he didn’t walk to the crease until the 29th over and was not out after the last of the 40 overs having scored 93 not out with a string of big hits!
On the bowling front, Kevin’s best figures came against Narberth after Tish had scored 130 and he had topped the scoring with 30 - and after 16 year-old Ollie Rees had claimed the first wicket Kevin grabbed SEVEN WICKETS for only FOUR RUNS - and also pouched a good catch at short square leg off Stuart Carpenter’s bowling as the opposition finished on 27 all out to round off a good day for Tish!

. . . And with Wales too!

Small wonder that his all-round play saw him called into the Welsh Over 60s squad which has done well this season and won silverware - and where he has played for the firsts and marked his debut against Cornwall when he bowled tidily and then went in to bat with 13 runs needed and belted a four, took a single and then hit a six to end the win in style.
Being involved against the likes of Devon, Cornwall, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and other counties means a lot of travel but he has really enjoyed the challenge of being a regular in the seconds under another former Pembrokeshire player in Paul Webb, who did such a good job as county chairman in his three-year stint
“We did really well in the regional competition and took on Kent in the semi-final at Croesyceiliog and I had a brilliant day where I scored 43 not out and I grabbed 6 for 30 in their reply.
“Then we played Hertfordshire in the final on a neutral ground in Oxfordshire and were delighted to come out on top to round off a cracking day as reward for total commitment by our squad.

Kevin Bowen - handed a trophyA Welsh call-up was a great thrill

“My call-up to play for Wales against England at Dumbleton Cricket Club in Gloucestershire was a smashing surprise,” said Kevin. “They batted first and were on 120 for 2 at the half way stage of their innings but then went berserk to reach 370 for 4 - and I was pleased that I managed to take two wickets, and was not out15 when we batted and lost by miles,” he admitted, with a typical chuckle.
“It was a thrill to receive my Welsh cap and I was also chosen to play against Australia at St Fagans but sadly the game was abandoned at half time because of heavy rain.”

And finally . . .

Talk to Kevin for a short while and it becomes evident that he is really enjoying both the outdoor and indoor versions of the game, where he has already scored 50 twice in helping the team to third place before their final fixture.
“The other regulars are my Tish and Wales team-mate Stuart Carpenter, David Haynes, Rob Nicholas, Ian Milsom, Andrew Williams, Neal Williams and Mark Hicks - and we enjoy each other’s’ company, as well as being competitive in matches – so we were disappointed to just miss out on a play-off place by losing our last game to Cresselly!
There is no doubt that Kevin Bowen’s arrival in the cricket fraternity of our county has really been a boost and he is clearly saw his Chennai trip of a life-time, but he is already back at work on the Tish pitch and cursing the change in climate for him in the current wet spell.
We at regard him as a great addition to our cricketing community and wish him a wonderful time and many years of playing cricket, in both the summer and winter versions of the game!

Kevin Bowen - part of Wales Seniors squad