NORTH WALES cricketers will be training at an iconic Ashes venue in preparation for a big showdown.

Now heading into its third season, Wales National County (North) will be playing Wales National County at Lisvane Cricket Club on April 7.

The day prior to the match, the North Wales players will get the opportunity to stride out at Cardiff's Sophia Gardens.

Team manager Russell Penrhyn-Jones said: "We are looking forward to it. We will train in Sophia Gardens.

"The Wales coaches are going to do a session for us. That's never happened before."

This will open what promises to be a terrific summer for the North Wales team.

Between May 26 and 28, Northop Hall Cricket Club will host a three-day match against Cardiff Met University, while the North Wales team will take on the Royal Air Force at Shifnal on June 25.

Gwersyllt Park will host the match between Wales National County (North) and Leeds Beckett University on June 30, while North Wales travel to Carnforth to take on Cumbria on July 11.

Home matches with Northumberland are pencilled in for August 6 and 7, at Menai Bridge and Bangor respectively, while St Asaph will host the clash with Staffordshire on August 25.

Heading into its third year - after being set up under the Wales National County senior team - the team has continued to grow and broaden its reach in a bid to provide a greater platform for development and progression for talented cricketers in the region.

Five players have gone on to represent the senior national counties team during that time - Owen Reilly, Will Ryan, Harrison Jones, Jason Foulkes and Matt Ryan - which indicates a marked increase from years gone by.

Penrhyn-Jones expressed his delight at the summer programme and he said: "I’m so excited about the fixtures we have this year - it’s a fantastic opportunity to give the lads some much needed exposure to high level representative cricket. Not only so we can showcase our talent to teams from all over the UK but to also showcase some of the excellent grounds we have in this region."

Head of talent pathway Matt Dando-Thompson added: "we're really pleased to have secured some top quality opposition for both teams this summer. We want the boys being exposed to a number of formats and opposition that can prepare them for national counties cricket, and really put them in the shop window for higher representation.

"It was brilliant to see the likes of Will Ryan and Harrison Jones make an impact in the red ball side last year - it provides further evidence that there is an abundance of ability in the North that we must continually be aware of, cultivate and help nurture."

There's also a busy fixture schedule for the region's U19s, starting with an away match with Shrewsbury School on April 28.

They'll take on Staffordshire on May 7, with a meeting versus Glamorgan Academy set to take place at Rydal Penrhos School on June 23.

The U19s will compete in the Merseyside T20 competition from July 1-3, with a match against the Pro Cricket Academy scheduled for July 24-25.

After this, there's a meeting with Middlesex Schools U18s at Colwyn Bay (August 4-5).

Reflecting on the U19s, Penrhyn-Jones added: "We had 30-odd trialists and broke it down to 20 for the squad. There's real, good talent.

"North Wales cricket will undoubtedly be better off for what we're doing.

"There's a lot of U19s now going to play Premier Division cricket.

"We organised trials and we could have an U17 team, but it can't be funded."

Anyone interested in providing funding to help with North Wales' cricketing journey can e-mail for further information.