Cwmgwili – 1783
Carmarthenshire was the county where the first known reference to a game of cricket being played in Wales. The match in question took place during 1783 on Court Henry Down, midway between Carmarthen and Llandovery, between two teams of gentlemen, one representing those living to the west of the River Cothy, and the other those living to the east of the river. promoting the game. The organiser of the game was John Philipps of Cwmgwili House.
The first county team in Wales
Carmarthenshire was also the first area in Wales to have a proper county cricket team with rules, and member’s subscriptions. Carmarthenshire CCC, was formed in 1864 at a meeting at the Ivy Bush Hotel in Carmarthen, and as the image below shows, they arranged several fixtures in their inaugural year against similar county organizations in other parts of Wales.
The Carmarthenshire club had a sizeable member’s list which read like a Who’s Who of the county and South Wales as a whole with many gentlemen living outside the county also paying the annual membership subscription. Having a series of rules also set the activities of the Carmarthenshire apart from other so-called county teams, especially those assembled for one-off games who were not fully constituted and were just a collection of friends and acquaintances of the match organizer. Like most teams in Wales, the rules of the Marylebone Cricket Club, or MCC, were used as the template.
Charles Prytherch Lewis was the leading cricketer in Carmarthenshire during the Victorian era. Educated at Llandovery College and Oxford University, he was a talented all-round sportsman who also captained the Welsh rugby side in the early 1880s.
Carmarthenshire become a Minor County
In 1908 Carmarthenshire, largely through the influence of CP Lewis, entered the Minor County Championship, playing matches against other county sides from England. Lewis turned out for the Carmarthenshire side, although he was well past his best as a cricketer. They continued to play fund-raising games against leading English teams including, as the image below shows, a special game against the amateurs from Essex CCC at the Stradey Park ground in Llanelli.
However, Carmarthenshire met with very little success in the Minor County Championship and withdrew from the competition at the end of the 1911 season. Despite not having Minor County status, Carmarthenshire continued to play an important role in the evolution of Glamorgan CCC, especially during the inter-war period. During these years, a host of Carmarthenshire-born players appeared in first-class cricket for Glamorgan including Dai Davies, Emrys Davies and Trevor Every from Llanelli CC, plus Willie Jones from Carmarthen who along with Emrys were in the first Glamorgan team to win the County Championship.