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Douglas questions elite league

Cleveland County coach Allan Douglas praised his players for winning the First Division 50-over championship and then poured cold water on Bermuda Cricket Board’s plans to implement an elite league next season.The Harris Bay club lost to Western Stars by one wicket in their season finale at St John’s Field yesterday. But the result did little to dampen Cleveland’s spirits as they had long sewn up the championship to clinch promotion to the top tier next season.Cleveland coach Douglas was happy to see his club gain promotion but took issue with having six teams playing in an elite league next season.“I know there are some thoughts for six teams but if you are going to have six teams then you want to make sure they are very strong teams,” the former Bermuda and St George’s Cup Match wicketkeeper said.“But cricket isn’t as strong as it should be and if you want to call something elite then the whole structure has to be elite and I personally don’t think that’s the best way to go.”Douglas reckons that very little separates teams in the Premier and First Division these days.“Anybody can win on any given day and it’s basically because of the culture of cricket we are playing today,” he said. “Everybody is almost equal now and it’s not because teams are really good, it’s just that people don’t love or work at their game.”Rather than having an elite league, Douglas said he would prefer to see Premier and First Divison players playing in the same division.“I think one league would be a better option because fringe players playing for different teams can still play top flight cricket per se,” he said. “We also need to ask ourselves, do our players love the game that much to say we are going to have an elite league?”Cleveland compensated for being dethroned as Eastern Counties champions by reclaiming their top flight status under the stewardship of Douglas who said there’s still plenty of room for growth.“We are promoted and it’s nice to be back up there but there is still a heck of a lot of work to be done,” he said. “I don’t think we have got to where we want to go.“We have worked pretty steady but I can’t say we have worked as hard as we need to coaching-wise and player-wise. The work wasn’t put in really but this is still a good accomplishment for the players and I am happy they have done something they can be proud of.”One player in particular that Douglas singled out was prolific batsman Glenn Blakeney who virtually carried the Harris Bay team on his back.“Glenn did a lot of good work for us and put us in a good position in every game and that was the biggest difference,” Douglas said. “A lot of the other players just shared average performances, which we were just enough to get us through.”