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The female cricketer making history

Seren Hughes can look back on 2021 as the year she made cricket history in Wales – although she didn’t know it at the time.

The 20-year-old entered the record books back in the summer when she became the first female in the South Wales Cricket Association to score a century at club level.

It was on August 28, when Hughes – the only female player on either side - struck 105 at Kidwelly Cricket Club, batting for Briton Ferry Steel Cricket Club’s second XI against the hosts.

Four months on, it remains one of the stand-outs moments in Welsh sport this year – an indicator not just of the Wales Women international’s own talent, but of the rapid strides made by the women’s game which was highlighted by the success of the inaugural Hundred competition.

Yet, Hughes admits that with no scoreboard in operation at the ground and her own mental score-keeping unable to stay the pace, she didn’t even know she was approaching three figures.

She recalls: “I didn’t really know what to expect going down to Kidwelly. I’ve never played there before.

“It was a big pitch, we batted first and I went in at number three. I just stayed in and scored a hundred.

“But I didn’t really know what I was on. I’d scored 50s before and I was on edge, really. I could see people on the side fidgeting, trying to sit still and my mother is always in her deckchair and she was trying to keep still.

“I didn’t really know what to do when I did reach a ton. It just went over my head, really, until I came off and then it actually hit me that I had just scored a hundred for the men.”

Hughes, who is studying sports coaching and development at the University of South Wales, appeared in the second XI, who were pushing for promotion to Division Three of the SWCA this year, and even went on to make her first team debut for BFSCC.

“It was nice to play a part in that,” she says.

“I haven’t played much over the years before because of my own playing commitments with Wales Women and coaching - but it was great to play a lot more games this year.

“Playing in the seconds, finishing runners-up and getting promoted was a great team achievement and a big boost for the club and it was nice to contribute that.”

Then, when BFSCC took on one of the local rivals, Baglan CC at the Graig, Hughes made her first-team debut.

“It was nice to take the opportunity and play for the firsts. When the teams came out after the selection meeting on a Thursday, I didn’t expect it.

“I just expected to be in the seconds again. But I got chosen for the firsts and when it came to the day, it was great to see the different level of play.

It was a great experience.”

Squad photo of Briton Ferry Steel Cricket Club 2nd XI
Seren Hughes (first from left, front row) with her team - Briton Ferry Steel Cricket Club 2nd XI

A Family History in Cricket

Hughes has family history running through the Briton Ferry club. Her father, Jason, is club captain, while both her uncles hold positions at the club.

Gary Hughes is treasurer and second team scorer, while her other uncle, Martyn, is club president.

Her grandfather, Colin, is not only groundsman, but also a life member.

Then, there is Seren’s twin sister, Kelsey, who plays for the ladies team.

“With my father being injured this year and stepping down from being first-team skipper, hopefully, it will be nice next year to have a game with him in the second team, and get Kelsey in as well. The three of us can have a game.”

Hughes started her playing career at the club where her father has captained the side for the last five years.

After signing up for girls’ regional training, she was invited into Wales trials.

“I started when I was a lot younger than I am now, at a club and regional level, then I got into the Wales set-up at under 11s.

“I got my first Welsh cap and I’ve played for them ever since - in the age-group sides, the development team and now the women’s team. It’s great to play for my country.”

Hughes picked up the chairman’s award at the SWCA annual dinner back in October, an award only given in certain years to a worthy recipient.

It has previously been won by Amir Ikram for taking 1,000 league wickets, Daniel Vaughan and Steff Davies for the 2016 90th anniversary tour, and former league treasurer John Homer.

“I didn’t really expect it,” says Hughes. “At first, I thought we were going to the dinner because of our promotion, but they spoke about me and then I realised I actually won the award!

“I was quite shocked, but it was great to win the award and get up in front of everyone and get it. Again, it was something I didn’t expect but it was nice to have.

“I remember my father saying, ‘You have to go to the dinner, you might win an award’ and I was thinking ‘Okay, then’. 

“Then, when I got there, everyone was wishing me all the best and then it clicked. I was actually receiving an award.

“If my parents hadn’t hinted, I probably wouldn’t have gone.”

Hughes grew up playing cricket with Alex Griffiths, who is currently in the Western Storm and Welsh Fire squads.

“It’s amazing watching her play at such a high standard,” she adds.

“Especially on the TV, we’ve supported her playing for Western Storm and Welsh Fire.

“We try and go to as many games as we can, and there are other Welsh girls playing as well, so it’s nice to watch them and say that we play with them for Wales. Then, Alex and Claire Nicholas play for the Steel ladies, too.”

With BFSCC playing in divisions two and three next year, it will be a bigger challenge for Steve Maddock’s second XI, playing against a lot more first XI teams.

“Next year, I’m hoping to just play more cricket, really,” adds Hughes.

“I want to play for Wales and the Steel and just see what games we have, be in the Welsh squad and for the Steel, just have another successful year, and see what happens and where we finish in our new division.”

And maybe another century or two, as well.

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