County time – all eyes on Bay
Eastern Counties teams and supporters are gearing up for another exciting series when the competition switches to Sea Breeze Oval on Saturday, when Bailey’s Bay, the holders, play host to Cleveland County.
The series was launched yesterday, with Digicel signing a three-year extension of its sponsorship of the Eastern Counties Cup, which is in its 114th year.
This year’s series will have two new captains in Chris Douglas, of St David’s. and Steven Bremar, of Cleveland.
Cofield Robinson, who captained Flatts Victoria on his Counties debut in 2014, returns to the helm of the team, who will contest the second round on August 18.
All attention will be on champions Bay, who have Rodney Trott back as captain as they look to hold on to the cup they won from St David’s last year.
Cleveland, like Flatts, are in the thick of the promotion race in the One 50 Overs First Division and Trott insists that they deserve respect.
“A county game is a different ball game and especially different from league cricket, so on the day the team that comes most prepared and with the most skills could possibly win,” Trott said. “Cleveland always give a good fight when it comes to county games so we’re not taking them lightly at all.
“It’s always good to get off to a good start and we’re definitely looking for a victory on Saturday and then we’ll take one game at a time after that. Saturday is our big day.”
Bay have had an up-and-down season in the One 50 Overs Premier Division, although they had a big win on Sunday when they thrashed Somerset by nine wickets, dismissing them for just 50 as pace pair Kyle Hodsoll and Zeko Burgess shared nine wickets.
“In the last couple of weeks our bowlers and batters have been putting in some extra work, so hopefully you can see some good things on Saturday,” Trott said.
“The atmosphere is always great down at Bailey’s Bay. It seems like a lot of people like to come to Bay to watch cricket, so hopefully we get a lot of people and that it continues for the other two county games as well.”
Bay will select their team tonight while Cleveland will select their team tomorrow evening, with Bremar set to lead them in only his second counties match after making his debut last year.
“County itself is pressure but I think legends are born during pressure,” said Bremar, who hit form with the bat on Sunday, scoring 114 not out in his team’s 184-run victory over Somerset Bridge.
Bridge were hit for more than 300 runs for the second straight weekend as Curtis Jackson, the Cleveland coach, scored 65 and Q’Shai Darrell 62 as Cleveland reached 356 for three in their 50 overs. Makai Young and Isaiah Creighton then both claimed three wickets as Bridge were dismissed for 172.
“It always feels good when you are going into a big game with a confidence booster,” said Bremar, before casting a glance towards Trott. “I’m just ready to take care of these guys on Saturday.
“I’m backing the boys, the boys are backing me and we’re looking for a good game on Saturday. I’m trying not to get nervous, just staying focused on what is ahead.
“It should be a great game, the boys are coming hard. They tell me every day this is our cup to win. It is definitely time.”
Sea Breeze Oval was the scene of Cleveland’s big win in 2014, when they ended 33 years without the cup.
They lost it at the same vebue two years later when St David’s dethroned them in one of the most exciting matches in living memory after late stands of 54 and 36 gave them a tense one-wicket win after struggling to chase down the modest 146 posted by Cleveland.
Flatts come into the series with a new man at the helm in Robinson.
“I decided to step down last year, but now the last captain, Kijuan Franks, has a lot on his plate with a new job so I decided to take it again,” Robinson said. “We’ve got a few youngsters coming through, so nobody’s spot is guaranteed.
“I’ll check out the first round to see how we can get some batsmen out. Bay haven’t had the strongest season but they have a lot of big-game players, as do Cleveland and St David’s.”
Douglas insists the best is still to come from St David’s.
“This is my first time being the captain of St David’s but it’s not the first time I’ve had an influential role,” he said. “My team is a well-groomed team, so when it comes down to the day we will all play our role, which makes my job a lot easier as the captain.
“On the weekend we ground out a one-run victory [over Western Stars] because my team knows how to dig deep and that’s what we’re going to do [in the Eastern Counties final] on September 1, even though we haven’t had the best of seasons.
“Bay, Cleveland and Flatts all know what we’re capable of doing on the day.”
Nigel Taylor, the Digicel fibre marketing manager, played host to the captains at the company’s offices yesterday.
“We’ve been involved with Eastern Counties cricket since 2015 and are very happy to extend that partnership with them,” Taylor said.
“Digicel is very much committed to investing in cricket on the island, not just the big event like the Eastern Counties, which is very popular, but also in youth cricket.”
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