Player Profile - Iwan Rees
With under 7 weeks to go until the 2020 Over-50s Cricket World Cup kicks off, it’s time for another Key Player Profile.
Today’s we focus on Wales’ Iwan Rees.
Wales Seniors Cricket will be hoping for more of the same from one of their newcomers at in 2020. Rees burst onto the Over-50s scene in 2019, making his debut for Wales in the English County Championship.
Including league matches and three Over-50s internationals (O50Is) against England, he scored 440 runs from 10 matches at 55, and took 16 wickets.
The highlight of the year was an epic 114* in the third O50I against England. His innings was the second-highest O50I score ever (only behind Peter Solway’s 151*); he scored an incredible 67 percent of Wales’ runs (114 out of 170); and faced almost half of the balls bowled – all after taking 2/29 when England batted.
Rees is a top-order batsman and a more-than-useful spin bowler. He has played the vast majority of his cricket for the 1st XI of Llanelli Cricket Club, for whom he has taken 350 wickets (at under 15) and scored over 6 000 runs at almost 40 in just the last decade or so. In 2019 alone, he averaged over 46 with the bat and under 13 with the ball.
Rees made his debut for the Llanelli 1st XI aged 14, when the club’s overseas pro was West Indian Winston Davies. He then played for Glamorgan’s junior side, primarily as a spin bowler, alongside the likes of Robert Croft, Steve James and current New Zealand Over-50s Cricket skipper Adrian Dale. On a work secondment to Cape Town (1999–2001), Rees played for Green Point CC, so he will be familiar with the conditions.
Rees was keenly aware of the 2018 World Cup as he trained with the Welsh team ahead of the tournament, but wasn’t eligible to compete. He was looking forward to “coming of age” and was immediately selected for Wales when he did.
In the three O50Is against England in 2019, Rees scored 149 runs at 49.67 and took three wickets at 26. This was enough to propel him to #3 in the World Over-50s Rankings. He found the step up from county level to international level to be a big one: “The England players were the best from all the counties and they have great strength in depth.”
With that in mind, he considers his 100 against England to be “up there with my best ever knocks”, although England’s tight bowling meant “it was a great struggle to get to 100”.
The World Cup is a big deal for Rees, a proud Welshman who is looking forward to representing his country in the very tough Division B, although he admits “I’m not sure who’s in our pool”.
He is especially looking forward to visiting Cape Town “and seeing the fantastic city again”, and “catching up for a few beers” with old cricketing friends, including Dale and New Zealand’s Neil Ronaldson, who used to play for Llanelli CC.
Impact: While a lot of Wales’ batting hopes will rest on Rees’ shoulders, he has shown the ability to handle that pressure and even thrive on it. With his more-than-handy off-spin as well, Rees could be the perfect replacement for the absent Steve Maddock.
By Jim Morrison