Qualification rules questioned
Winston Reid, the Somerset Bridge coach, is calling on the Western Counties to loosen up the qualification rules for players in order to raise the standard of play in the competition, the second-oldest counties behind the Eastern Counties.
Reid’s team take on holders Southampton Rangers today in the first round at PHC Field, but the former Somerset Cup Match and Bermuda opening batsman admits it will be a tall order for his team, or the other three challengers to topple a strong Rangers team.
Rules in the competition call for a player to serve a two-year qualification if he is moving from one team in the county to another. If he joins a Western Counties team from a club not in the Western Counties then the wait is one year before he is eligible. Reid thinks the ruling is outdated and should be relaxed in order to allow players to join other clubs more freely.
“If a youngster who plays for Rangers and may not be good enough to make the Rangers team and decides to ‘I’m going to White Hill’, you are telling him he’s got to wait two years to play [in the counties],” Reid said.
“I don’t know how a club player can play as a guest player,but he can’t play as a club player. I think something is drastically wrong with that picture.”
Bridge, who haven’t opted for any guest players, will be boosted by the inclusion of Cory Burgess who joined them last season from PHC and played as a guest player. Joshua Gilbert, who transferred this year from neighbours Somerset Cricket Club, has played for two teams in the Western Counties as a guest player, PHC in 2013 and Somerset Bridge since 2016.
“There is some argument that Cory shouldn’t play this year because he didn’t do his two years, but he played last year as a guest player,” Reid stated.
“This two year and one year missing, we’re struggling to name 11 half-decent players as it is.
“The Western Counties is going to tell you you can’t play this guy because he left PHC. Each county has their own rules, but aren’t we depriving guys from playing cricket?”
Reid added: “I can imagine 30 or 40 years ago having restrictions, I can live with that. But if you look at today’s cricket, I can’t live with some of those restrictions.
“I feel when a guy is playing for a club and he is not playing, or is not happy and wants to transfer, he shouldn’t be restricted from playing for another club. They’re trying to get players to stay with one team.”
Malachai Jones, of Southampton Rangers, has had to serve another qualifying period after first playing for Rangers and then Willow Cuts in the competition.
He had to miss last year and won’t be available for today’s match as he is off the island. Rangers were still finalising their team yesterday as some players are not available.
Even so, Reid admits Rangers will be a tough team to beat in the competition, as they are also proving in the Twenty20 competition. “It’s not easy to play Rangers, they’ve got a team good enough to beat anybody,” Reid said. “We have to have a Plan A and a Plan B, otherwise it is going to be a long day. It is going to be an uphill battle and we have to raise our level of play.”
n Rangers could also take a step closer to winning the T20 Premier Division title tomorrow when they meet Cleveland at Wellington Oval in the penultimate round.
Rangers hold a five-point lead over Bailey’s Bay who play Flatts at Sea Breeze Oval while St David’s host St George’s at Lord’s at 3pm.
In the One Comm 50 overs First Division matches tomorrow, Somerset host Somerset Bridge, Warwick take on PHC at Southampton Oval and Devonshire Rec host Western Stars.