Charlie's on the road to cricketing success

Charlie Welch When nine year-old Charlie Welch went down to St Ishmaels Cricket Club to try his luck at 'All Stars' Cricket' he just bowled one plastic ball at a set of stumps and coach Johnnie 'Bap' Lewis knew that he had a naturally talented bowler on his hands.

He asked Charlie, from Milford Haven, where he had played before and the youngster told him it was his first-ever visit to cricket but Johnny was convinced he must be mistaken and asked Charlie's mum Joe the same question - and got the same answer!

"The ball was straight on middle stump and he soon showed it wasn't a fluke - and the youngster showed exactly the same skill with a traditional cricket ball when he played for St Ishmaels under 11s a little time later, and claimed his first wicket,” Johnny told us.

County and regional recognition

Since then his bowling has continued to grow and he not only plays on a regular basis for the Tish juniors but has represented Pembrokeshire under 10s and at the start of this new season is in the squad for the newly-formed Cricket Wales West Region.

It means a great deal of travel because most of the pre-season squad training is done 'up the line' at Swansea and Neath, and of the five talented youngsters originally involved from Tish,  Charlie is the only one who has continued because of the costs and commitment necessary from kids so young.

The family is hoping that eventually it will be worth it because they will play North Wales, East Wales, South Wales and Herefordshire, plus a range of others, with Stefan Jenkins (Cresselly) as one of the coaches.

Charlie Welch with Johnny Lewis and his Tish cricket mates

Accidental introduction to cricket at Tish

That Charlie set out at Tish came about almost by accident after a playground chat following  school, between his mum Jo and Clarissa Lewis, who is Johnny's wife and also does a great job as scorer with Herbrandston, where her hubbie captains the second team, as well as coaching down the road.

Clarissa suggested Jo take her son down to a training session and that set him off alongside his football, which he plays for Milford United under 11s, but more of that later.

Johnny was impressed from the outset . . .

Johnny told us,
"A lot of youngsters who make the transition from using a plastic bat and ball don't find it easy at first but Charlie seemed more at home with the traditional equipment, and is a quickly-improving batsman who loves to hit the ball hard for a boy of his age.  He has also claimed three wickets in a match against Cresselly, no mean feat because they are only allowed two overs apiece!"

"He is a bit like a sponge because he never stops asking questions about slower balls, using the seam, swinging it one way or the other - and practises what he is told. If he keeps up his current rate of progress he is going to be a very, very good bowler."

. . . And Jo is delighted

Joe added, "He is a keen fielder too and after he took his first catch in a match he couldn't wait to go to school next day to show off his sore hand - it was like a cricket war wound!"

Ask Joe, who in her much younger days played in goal for the Pembrokeshire Ladies hockey team,  and his dad Andy, about his playing cricket and she would say that Charlie was  previously football-mad as a Liverpool supporter but now couldn't wait for football to end and cricket begin.

Charlie Welch plays football for Milford UnitedFootball enjoyed at Marble Hall

Charlie started out in football with Milford United under 7s run by Mike McCarthy and Neil Mathias, supported by Ashley Britton, playing in midfield or defence. So far he has gone through to under 10s with lots of his school pals and they love playing together.

He won their most improved player award in 2018/19 but then damaged his achilles tendon so has been out for quite a well but Covid has allowed him to rest it and he is hoping to go back when the new season starts.

Answers to the nickname  'Squelchy'

But it is cricket that has now taken over as his major sport and he loves being involved with club and county, where Stefan Jenkins nicknamed him 'Squelchy' because there are three Charlie's in the team!
He loves going down to the nets at Tish and Johnny is very good at giving him extra sessions with his own son Dylan, and Charlie's dad Andy also enjoys going down to help when the whole Tish squad is together as a lively bunch. In fact, Johnny is trying hard to get Andy to join him in Herbie Seconds for this 2021 season."

Charlie Welsh celebrates a good inningsMore family matters . . .

Charlie also has a brother in Jack (8), who is just as eager to play, and is in the Tish under 9s team coached by Peter Bradshaw. There is a previous cricketing connection because grandfathers Dougy  and Rob played a lot in their younger days.

Dougy played for the old Steynton team, alongside the likes of  ‘Tacky’ Marchant, David Lloyd and Jimmy Richey, which was a founder member of the County Club with his brothers Grenville and Brian also members.

All three played football for Steynton, the Mine Depot, Johnston and Milford Haven, with Dougy as skipper at one time who represented Pembrokeshire Youth.

Rob hails from Nantwich, in Cheshire, and after playing for the local cricket team for many years and serving them well as an administrator, was elected chairman of the National Cricket Conference in 2019.

And finally . . .                    

Both are rightly proud of their young grandson, as are the rest of the families, and there is no doubt that Charlie is one to watch for the future in Pembrokeshire Cricket; providing proof that until you try any sport you just don't know what impact you can make so our message from is just get out there and try a new challenge, as Charlie Welch has done so well with Johnny Lewis and the junior gang at St Ishmaels Cricket Club!