By Rich Jones
Only a very select group of Welshmen have played Test cricket for England – 15 people, to be exact.
If the 2016 season is anything to go by, however, the smart money would surely be on Aneurin Donald to one day become number 16 on that illustrious list.
The Glamorgan youngster has been making big waves across all three formats of county cricket and hit the headlines for his record-breaking exploits in a County Championship game against Derbyshire in mid-July.
He cracked a breathtaking 234 from just 136 balls and equalled the record for fastest first-class double-century.
His Colwyn Bay fireworks may have been the highlight of his short career, but anyone who has seen Donald bat will know his heroics were certainly not a one-off.
There is little doubt the former England Under 19s player is one of the brightest talents currently rising through the ranks on the county circuit.
He is already being tipped to earn a call-up to the senior England side in the future, with Michael Vaughan hinting he could even follow in his footsteps as captain of the national team.
Donald, 19, admits it would be a dream come true to fly the Welsh flag on the international scene – over a decade after former Glamorgan bowler Simon Jones played his last Test match.
But it is clear the teenager has a mature head on his shoulders – and he insists he will take one step at a time as he aims to eventually catch the eyes of the England selectors further down the line.
Donald said: “It would obviously be massive to play for England, but it’s a long way off yet and I know I have a lot of work to do.
“It’s about being consistent, time after time and year after year. If I could have some more good days like I’ve had this season then it would go a long way to getting me in the England setup further down the line.
“That’s what I’m aiming for eventually, but I can’t get too far ahead of myself and I know I just have to stay focused on each game and just keep progressing.”
Donald’s achievements so early in his career have, understandably, generated a level of hype surrounding his potential.
However, he insists he wouldn’t have it any other way and remains unfazed by the pressure on his young shoulders.
He stated: “Obviously it’s a nice position to be in, and I wouldn’t want to be in any other position.
“It’s a lot of pressure at times, but I put just as much pressure on myself to perform to be honest.
“I know I can perform at this level, I’ve shown that this year and after starting the season just trying to make my way and get into the team I’ve won a few games for Glamorgan.
“That’s really enjoyable, and hopefully I can keep that going over the next few seasons.”
In an era dominated by the growth of T20 cricket, Donald has earned high praise for his exuberant shots and charismatic approach to batting.
He believes growing up watching the shortest format of the game and the explosive hitting it brings has had a heavy influence on his style of play.
He commented: “We’ve all grown up playing and watching T20 cricket, and there are so many players out there now who you can sit down to watch in front of a TV and see a real masterclass.
“For me it’s all about trying to pick up bits from as many people as I can. That seems to be a good way to go in the future, and luckily the way I play from doing that seems to suit the T20 game.”
Although Donald has thrived in the 20 over game, he is keen to stress his desire to play a big role across all formats moving forwards.
He has become a key ingredient in the Glamorgan formula in all competitions, striking 983 County Championship runs and also appearing regular in the Royal London One Day Cup.
“It’s massive for me to be making an impact in all three formats,” he said. “At this age I don’t want to be considered a specialist in any format whatsoever, I want to be considered across the board.
“It’s nice to be contributing in all formats at the moment, but there are going to be times when I’m not contributing as well so it’s about riding those ups and downs through the season as well.”
With the season drawing to a close, Donald has racked up a remarkable 38 appearances in his first full season of professional cricket.
He admits the notoriously hectic schedule in the game does take its toll – but he is just thrilled to have the opportunity to live the dream by playing the sport he loves alongside some of his closest friends.
Donald added: “I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of talk about the schedule, and it is tough, but there isn’t anything I’d rather be doing than travelling around to play cricket with my mates.
“We’ve got a great group of guys down here at Glamorgan, a lot of us have grown up playing together and we have an awesome time together in the dressing room.
“It’s hard at times, and switching between formats can be a challenge as well because you sometimes have to approach the game differently.
“For our fast bowlers it’s especially tough physically, and we try to rest and rotate as much as we can.
“It’s going to build up as the season goes on, but it’s about ploughing on and being mentally strong throughout so you can just focus on each game as it comes.”