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James Claybrook

Brymbo Legends Interviews


I started playing for Brymbo at 7 or 8. Brian Williams recommended I join Brymbo as Llangollen didn’t have a junior section and he knew John Lloyd had a brilliant set up at the club. I haven’t looked back since and now I’m the first-team captain.
My first game was at Prestatyn and it stays vivid in the memory as I saw a young Mitch Van Wyk hit six after six playing U9s.
Would love to bring back the successful days to the club and become the best side in North Wales again. Hope to see a lot of the players I’ve played within the Youth who have left and gone on to bigger things back playing in the years to come.
I also had a spell at Neston a few years ago in the Cheshire Prem which didn’t work out as well as I would have liked, but it was a great experience and a brilliant club to be part of. Would highly recommend to any local cricketers looking to challenge themselves at this level and play at a club with a great bunch of lads.
I have also been lucky enough to represent Denbighshire, Wales Minor Counties and Cheshire, as well as representative cricket as a youngster for North East Wales, Wales, Glamorgan Academy and West of England.

Best player ever played with and against:
With: David Lloyd – Dave was the most talented young cricketer I was lucky enough to play with and it’s no surprise to see him being successful as a professional and being picked as the next Glamorgan captain.

Against: Jason Holder – when I toured the Caribbean with the West of England as a 14-year-old we played Barbados U16s over 2 games. No surprise a 6ft 5inch Holder dismissed me twice in two days and the locals weren’t far wrong when they said he’d one day play for the West Indies.

Best Captain: Joss Roberts/ Anthony Savage
Both stand out for me as good captains for different reasons. I liked the dynamics with Joss as my vice and we worked well together. Being close off the pitch allowed us to confide in each other (often too much) which made for a good partnership. Sav is a great club man. During a difficult few years, he’s remained committed and loyal to our 2nd team and those are the qualities you need as a good captain. Anything to help the club and the first team with no questions asked, even at the detriment of his side.

Seam Bowler
With: Ben Hilliard – Ben is the only overseas I have played with at Brymbo and we were blessed to have one of the better bowlers the North Wales league has seen in my time playing. 60 wickets in the season and single handily keeping us from relegation says everything you need to know.

Against: Robbie Jones – Robbie has the ability to move it both ways and it’s safe to say I’ve certainly been his bunny over recent years. I have only just started scoring runs against Menai now he is not bowling…..

Swing Bowler:
With: Chris Finnegan – I only played with Fins for a season at Neston towards the end of his career. He swung the ball big, away from the right-hand bat and took plenty of wickets that season. Would have loved to play alongside him in his younger years.

Special mention to Dan Parry. He’s always been a consistent performer since joining Brymbo and is very hard to play when the conditions suit. Probably the only bowler I can name in North Wales who swings it both ways in the Prem.

Against: Jack Edwards – not many stay firm in the memory, but Jack did when I played against him for Glamorgan Academy against Shropshire. You can’t beat a left-hander who swings it into the stumps. My middle stump will vouch for that after this game!

Spin Bowler
With: Andrew Salter / Simon Mugava – Salts was the best and most consistent spinner I played with as a youngster and is now playing with David Lloyd for Glamorgan. I’ve also played with very good spinners for Wales and Cheshire, but club wise I’d say Mugas was up there with the best. He was the overseas at Neston the year I played. Again very consistent and difficult to score from with subtle changes which are important for all off-spinners.

Against: Fawad Ahmed – safe to say I didn’t have a clue where it was spinning when playing against him in Australia. No surprise he took 8 wickets against us and dismissed me for a duck while I was trying to see out the close of play. Went on to play Big Bash and first-class cricket the year after.

Quick Bowler:
With: Ash Davis with Cheshire – it would have been good if Ash moved back to Neston a year earlier, would have saved a few dismissals against Chester. Very skiddy due to his height and a difficult bumper to pick up.

Against: Keegan Nagan – I was petrified before facing him as a youngster against Llandudno. Was quite glad of the lbw decision after getting hit on my thigh pad… I believe Keegan played for Netal Dolphins in South Africa

Jordan Clarke – not pleasant facing him on a green top at Alderley Edge I have to admit. Another duck and 8 wicket haul against us to add to the collection…..

With: David Lloyd is the obvious choice as a professional, but club wise David Hurst was always impressive when I played with him at Neston. He had every shot and played some really good innings in a difficult season for us. Hursty looked to target opposition bowlers and had a good game plan for each different bowler. Something I feel is often lacking with the batsman in our league

Against: Blake Dean – the Bangor pro hammered a match-winning 100 against us and hit me for 19 off the last over with a six off the last ball to win the game (it cleared the pavilion at Bangor….). I’d say he is the best batting pro I’ve seen in North Wales, the stats show that and 1400 runs in one season. An appearance in the Big Bash and a season batting 2nd-grade cricket left-handed in Aus as a right-hander and averaging 30+ is impressive.

I did play with another West Indian Test cricketer on our tour to the Caribbean as well. You won’t be surprised to hear Kraigg Brathwaite scored a hundred against us on that tour!

Wicket Keeper:
With: Greg King/Phil Lloyd. All Brymbo players will agree with these selections. Greg had extremely quick hands and was often too quick for the umpires of North Wales. Pleasure playing alongside him in recent years and I hope it’s not the last we have seen of him in a Brymbo shirt. I only played with Phil towards the end of his career and would have loved to share a field with him earlier in his career. Gresford away stays firm in the memory and taking length balls above the batsman head off my bowling when stood up to the stumps.
Special mention to Charlie Lowen and Tom Baker from the Wales days, both have played minor counties and like Greg are great standing up to the wicket.

Against: Played against a lot of good keepers over the years. A lot only in single games so it’s difficult to remember entirely. A young Alex Davies from Lancashire stays fond in the memory after playing a year up against us for Wales.

The Big Hitter: Dave Blackwell. Glad to have Dave back playing with us again. Haven’t seen anybody hit the ball as cleanly as him and there’s always a few lost balls for the opposition when Dave is playing.

Itifkhar Naseer – I think I’ve got his name right. This guy definitely needs a mention from Bramhall, ask the Menai lads when he scored 170 in a T20 game a few years ago. One of the only batsmen I have been on a field with that actually made you feel every ball could go for six.

Mr Consistent: Wayne Smith and Gareth Boys with the ball have always been steady performers for me as a player and captain. Very rarely give them the ball and see the ball flying around the park. Big credit to Wayne coming out of retirement for the 1st team last year and not putting a foot wrong all year. His economical overs were priceless for us….

Best Catcher: I’d like to say I had a pair of the safer hands in my younger days…. Definitely not the case now Dan Parry hahaha! Gareth Boys in his first few years for Brymbo never dropped a thing and took some of the better slip catches you will see. Dan Parry, Jayman get a solid mention as well in recent years.

Best Arm: Andrew Salter. Salts with a mention again. Fair to say he had a rocket arm as a youngster and definitely set the standard for us in the field.

Top Fielder: Martin Burger – Again obvious choices are some of the professionals I’ve played with. They really bring an intensity to the field and show how important fielding is to the game and how it can turn games on its head. Burger has always brought this intensity to the field when I’ve played against the Quay at club level. He’s lightning across the square and brings constant pressure when at the crease.

Best No 11: Ali Khalid – had the potential as a batsman and could rekindle this, but for now he can take this mantle. Could park a bus through that forward defensive when I promoted him to No.4 at the Quay…..

Biggest Joker: Thomas Morgan – rolling it back to the Wales days as a youngster. Loved to wind the lads up, Gareth Burkitt will vouch for this. Getting sent home from a tour in Worcester and getting bowled reverse sweeping an opening bowler are a few of the funny memories.

Toughest Opponent: Jamie Griffiths – Jamie flirts on the edge of the line at times and it can be too much, but he always gets up for playing against Brymbo and his ex-teammates. Pains me to say he’s definitely won the fight against a few of our players in recent years when he’s had the ball in his hand.

Inspiration: Marcus Trescothick. I loved Marcus’s aggression at the top of the order, not that it replicates anything in my game but he was definitely an idol of mine growing up. I’d always enjoy watching cricket growing up when he was playing.

Proudest Cricketing Achievement:Memories as a youngster, captaining NE Wales to the Regional Championship U11. First and only hundred for Wales against Oxfordshire. Being selected for West of England U13s in Loughborough and the tour of the Caribbean that followed to name a few.

North Wales League is a big target of mine and would love to be crowned champions in the next few years. It was agonising finishing 2nd a few years ago and losing the players we did. Don’t think we are far away from getting back to that level again now though!

Best Innings (most memorable): A lot of innings stand out as a youngster, but the most memorable and important was probably the 101 not out last year against Gresford. It wasn’t my most fluent and I was dropped early but it was important in giving us daylight from relegation last year and getting 15 points. Always nice to ton-up against your local rivals as well.

Favourite Bowling Spell: Any day I was able to bowl quick. Doesn’t happen often but I’m sure some can vouch for days that everything has clicked. Bolton Schools U15s, Berkshire U17s and Mold for the 1s at home were a few of the quicker days.

Highest Innings: 162 not out v Mochdre in Premier League. A day where everything goes your way and you can do no wrong. Doesn’t happen too often…. Part of my best season to date with the bat where I fell just short of the elusive 1000 runs in a league season!

Best Bowling Spell: 7-26 against St Asaph. I don’t think there was anything too special about the spell. A day where the opposition kept missing and nicking my deliveries. Wish I could roll back these days…. I did actually take 8 wickets one time against Shropshire U12s playing one year down as a 13-year-old for NE Wales. One year makes a big difference at that age.

Stand Out Memories: Northop away, winner stays up and the loser gets relegated. The best scenes at the end of a cricket game hands down. Especially after stumbling to 147 when we could have been dismissed below 100. One of Ali Khalid’s better days. More of these days please Ali??

Any Regrets: Not taking the opportunities I had as a youngster to push onto the next level was frustrating. I never seemed to score runs when I needed to impress. A lot of being able to succeed is playing well at the right times which opens doors to new and bigger opportunities.

Promising Youngster: A lot of good youngsters are coming through Brymbo at the moment under the guidance of Gareth Boys. Sam Aplin has been selected for Wales this year I believe and would love to share the first team with these boys in the years to come.

Three most important qualities that make a cricketer stand out:
• Concentration
• Determination
• Knowing your own game (you don’t need to be the most talented cricketer, but you need to understand your game and understand what you do well/ don’t do well.)

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