Underdog tag suits us, says Basden
Willow Cuts captain Dwight Basden doesn’t mind his team carrying the tag of underdogs in this weekend’s Belco Cup, but says now is the time for the team to live up to their potential and land a first title.
Cuts welcome St. David’s to the West End for Saturday’s semi-final which will see the winners taking on the winners of the other semi-final at St. David’s between defending champions Bailey’s Bay and seven-time winners of the Belco Cup, Southampton Rangers who return to the competition after failing to qualify last year.
Willow Cuts have never reached the final of the competition, having missed out last year when St. David’s beat them in the semi-finals and there is determination in the Cuts camp this year to go all the way. “This is my first year playing in the competition. Last year I missed out through injury and my vice-captain Malachi Jones took over,” said Basden. L
“We lost out in a rain-affected match and this year we want to focus on beating St. David’s who were definitely a thorn in our side last year. This year the guys’ mental preparation has to improve, the ability is there but we lack the mental toughness.”
Most of the Cuts players may not have won the competition before but they do have three players who have ... Jones with Rangers and new transfers Chris Foggo and David Adams with St. David’s and St. George’s.
Adams also won the trophy with PHC three years ago when they shocked five-time defending champions Rangers by 13 runs.
“St. David’s are always tough, they are a cricket club with a lot of history and because of the fact that we have never won it, it gives us the extra incentive,” said Basden. “I’m stressing this year that we have to take it one game at a time and try to get to the final. We’re stressing to the nucleus from last year to pull their weight.”
St. David’s have never won the competition since it became the Belco Cup in 2003, losing three straight finals between 2004 and ‘06. They won it in the last two years as the Camel Cup in 2001 and ‘02, beating Western Stars on both occasions. Success is long overdue for one of the Island’s most talented teams and coach Wendell Smith says St. David’s are up for the challenge of winning a first title in more than a decade.
“It is a real treat to participate in the Belco Cup as it represents the top four finishers from the previous year,” said Smith, who won five titles with St. George’s.
“It serves as an early gauge for each team as far as form and competitiveness. In respect to Willow Cuts, they are a dangerous team that is capable of defeating any local opposition on their day. We have engaged in some real battles with them recently, most notably the game at Lord’s two seasons ago when they pulled down 270 plus, in the last over of the day.”
Added Smith: “The loss of Chris Foggo is a blow to us as his wicketkeeping was superb last year. On the flip side, we have acquired George O’Brien and on his day he can be the most lethal strike bowler on the Island. I have been impressed with his cricketing brain, his self confidence and most of all, his bowling skills.
“McLaren Lowe has also joined us, from Western Stars, and he should be a helpful addition to our batting, which is my number one concern. Richard Todd looks to be a late transfer, and he too should help our batting. However, it remains to be seen when he will actually be eligible to play.
“It is in the bowling department that we have been most consistent during the past two years, and I expect this to continue. With the likes of Delyone Borden, Sammy Robinson, Fiqre Crockwell and Del Hollis offering spin options, and Justin Pitcher and Rudell Pitcher the medium/fast options, the arsenal appears sturdy.”
St. David’s did not have any players in the Bermuda team for the recent ICC World Cricket League Division 3 Tournament. Even so, the tournament has helped the St. David’s preparation for the new season, Smith believes.
“Preseason training has in some respects been helped by the recent ICC Tournament being held here, as it has meant that we have been afforded middle wickets upon which to train,” said the coach. “I am a big advocate of practicing on match like conditions, so this has been a plus.
“For both teams, this game on Saturday, will serve as the curtain raiser, and so bearing that in mind, I make no predictions. I have been pleased with the players intensity and appetite and my hope is that this translates into performance.”