Smith: only weather can rain on our parade
Cleveland president Carlton Smith is confident of pulling off a victory against new champions Bailey’s Bay in the second round of the Eastern Counties today at Lord’s.
Bay dethroned St David’s in the first round last month and Smith, a former Cleveland player himself, feels Cleveland can do the same after naming two colts in their team.
“There is definitely an upset on the cards,” Smith said yesterday. “We will win. The only thing that worries me is the rain, if it doesn’t rain we’re winning. It’s all up to mother nature.”
Cleveland have brought in colts Steven Bremar and 15-year-old Najiyah Raynor, 15, who will be the wicketkeeper. He was a recent member of the Bermuda Under-19 team which toured Canada.
The Cleveland team contains five changes to the team that lost to St David’s in the second round last year at Sea Breeze Oval, ending Cleveland’s two-year reign as champions after dethroning St David’s in 2014 with a 147-run victory. That was Cleveland’s first counties victory in 33 years.
Returning to the Cleveland team are Treadwell Gibbons and Makai Young, who joined Cleveland from Western Stars this season, and Levar Talbot of Devonshire Rec. Missing from the 2016 team are Curtis Jackson, Mackih McGowan, Hasan Durham, Jason Simons and Steven Douglas Jr.
“That’s the best we could come up with, with guys not picking themselves throughout the season,” Smith said. “Mackih was back in the running but his ankle swelled up on Sunday in the Southampton Rangers game.”
Cleveland’s first victory in the league last weekend was timely and gives them a tremendous boost ahead of what is their biggest match of the season. Captain Dennis Musson and Damali Bell are their two main strike bowlers, along with Clay Darrell who is their leading wicket-taker this season.
In the Eastern Counties, both the champions and challengers usually prefer to bat second even though the team batting first are allowed to bat a maximum of 65 overs compared to the 53 for the other team.
“I’m pretty sure if we win the toss we’re going to send them in,” Smith revealed. “If it rains and there is a bit of moisture [in the wicket] we’ll definitely send them in. “Hopefully there is an exciting game and we can give the fans some good cricket. Last weekend we had our strongest team all season after playing a lot of youngsters early in the season.”
Dion Stovell’s inclusion provides an extra boost to the Cleveland batting and bowling and is fresh off an outstanding performance last weekend for St David’s when he claimed six for 14 and then scored 70 in a five-wicket win over Western Stars. Usually that would have been enough to win the One Communications Player of the Week award, but Stovell was outshone by Bay’s Malachi Jones who scored a season-high 184 against Somerset.
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