Jackson on double duty for Cleveland
Cleveland County have made two changes to the team who shocked Bailey’s Bay in the first round of the Eastern Counties Cup last month, strengthening their batting with the surprise inclusion of coach Curtis Jackson.
All-rounder Jabari Darrell has been named as a colt for the second-round clash against Flatts Victoria at Sea Breeze Oval today, with Kioshi Trott and Isaiah Creighton both omitted from the cup-winning team as the new holders put greater emphasis on their batting.
“As the cup holders, we don’t have to bowl Flatts out,” Cleveland president Carlton Smith said.
Flatts also made two changes from last year’s team, with Dorneille Farrell, who last played in 2015, earning a recall while young spinner Adio Robinson is named as their colt. They replace Temiko Wilson and Ajuan Lamb.
Flatts have a new captain, with Cofield Robinson returning to lead a team containing Kamau Leverock and veterans Vernon Eve and player-coach Kijuan Franks, who was last year’s captain. They are aiming to get a first win in the competition since the final of the 1980 series, when they beat champions Cleveland, dismissing them for 102 and then scoring 103 for two in reply.
However, in the first game of the 1981 series, Cleveland reclaimed the trophy with a three-wicket win over Flatts, whose winless streak began with that loss.
“This is definitely a good chance for us to break this streak that unfortunately we’re on,” Franks said. “In the last couple of years we’ve been so close but things haven’t gone our way. We just have to come to play on the day and stay together as a unit.”
Leverock, back from a break in England where he has been playing for the Nottinghamshire Second XI, will be a key player for Flatts, as he showed on his debut last year when he claimed six wickets in a losing cause against Bailey’s Bay, who were dismissed for a modest 166.
Flatts did claim an impressive win over Cleveland last weekend in the First Division Championship Cup, where Leverock led their batting with 68. However, this match will be of far greater significance, with Cleveland determined to hold on to a cup they just reclaimed on July 21.
“Kamau is definitely a player they would want to pay attention to,” Franks said. “He can easily win a game for any team he plays for, the quality of player he is. But it is all about a team effort.”
Franks does not think that playing Cleveland gives Flatts a better chance of winning the cup.
“Not necessarily, because Bailey’s Bay haven’t had the best of seasons, so I guess you could say that Cleveland took advantage of that,” he said. “We just know we have a job to do on the 18th, whether we played Bailey’s Bay or Cleveland County. It didn’t matter who we were coming up against. We had a couple of close calls in the last couple of years and know what it takes to get over that hump.
“We just have to apply ourselves on the day. It is all about team performance tomorrow, but individual performances definitely help the team.”
Flatts gained promotion with Cleveland to ensure that all four Eastern Counties teams will be in the top flight next season. They achieved it by beating Premier Division side Western Stars in the play-off.
Cleveland are preparing to be sent in if Flatts win the toss, the challengers usually preferring to bat last in the Eastern Counties despite being given a minimum 53 of the 118 overs allotted for the day.
“We have a game plan, playing in the First Division we are very familiar with them and won’t take them light,” the Cleveland president said. “If we hold our catches we’ll be all right. Like the old saying ‘catches win matches’.
“That was Bay’s downfall in the first game, they dropped five or six catches against us and it came back to haunt them. If everybody comes to play and pulls their weight and stays together we can come out with a win.”
Today’s match will be a rare meeting between the teams in the competition, only the sixth time they will have met in the past 38 years, with Bailey’s Bay and St David’s dominating over the years.
“Now we’re not challenging for the cup but defending the cup so we decided to put in extra bats,” said player-coach Jackson, who last played in counties in 2016. “I’ve played a few games this season but wasn’t really looking to play. The selectors decided to carry the extra bat, I was the last name put in, more or less. Like I’ve told the guys all season, we can’t take any team lightly.
“Out of 11 players Leverock is just one, but one player can make a difference. He is a threat.”
Cleveland: Steven Bremar (captain), Macai Young, Mishael Paynter, Dion Stovell, Dennis Musson, Mackih McGowan, Bryce Daniels, Lavar Talbot, Q’Shai Darrell, Jabari Darrell (colt), Curtis Jackson. Reserves: Keith Whorms, CJ Fubler, Jelani Richardson, Kioshi Trott
Flatts: Cofield Robinson (captain), Reginald Baker, Dorneill Farrell, Adio Robinson (colt), Kamau Leverock, Nelson Bascome, Kijuan Franks, Vernon Eve, Regino Smith, Dajon Carey, Christof Van Tonder. Reserves: Che Woolridge, Cameron Smith