Outerbridge remains a doubt for Bay
Captain Stephen Outerbridge remains a doubt for this weekend’s Belco Cup because of a hamstring injury, but he promises Bailey’s Bay will be up for the challenge of defending the title they won last year for the first time since 1997.
Outerbridge, last season’s Premier Division Player of the Year and whose captaincy led Bay to league, Belco Cup, Eastern Counties and 20/20 titles last year, is suffering a recurrence of the hamstring injury he suffered during the Bermuda national team’s tour of Florida recently. The Bermuda captain has been receiving treatment this week in the hopes of playing this weekend, with vice-captain Rodney Trott leading the team if Outerbridge misses out.
Bay face a tough semi-final against Southampton Rangers on Saturday at St. David’s, with the winners advancing to meet either St. David’s or Willow Cuts in Sunday’s final at Lords.
“We’ve had really good turnouts this week, we trained Monday and Tuesday and the intensity was really good,” said Outerbridge. “I am happy with some of the new guys that we did pick up and their inclusion, I can see, will be beneficial to Bailey’s Bay this season and hopefully come Saturday and Sunday.”
The new signings for Bay include national team player Tre Manders from Western Stars, Kearon Trott from Social Club and 14-year-old Zion Smith from St. George’s who is the nephew of Glenn Blakeney. Dennico Hollis, to Somerset, was the only departure.
“Tre has gone back (to England) but we have some younger players like Zion Smith who looks promising,” said the captain. “Last year Asande Furbert played a bit and we’re expecting really big things from our youth players, especially early on without Tre and Terryn Fray who are both due back in late June, early July.
”Zion is highly regarded as one of the top young players coming through and we’re looking for him to combine with the Terryns, the Tres and Azandes that we have currently. He’s a left-hander who hits the ball pretty hard and hopefully he can get some good scores and push on from there.”
Also back from school is the team’s wicketkeeper Sinclair Gibbons, a player Outerbridge tips to be pushing for national team selection in the next couple of seasons. “He came back last Friday and is pushing himself to be ready for Saturday and Sunday and we’re happy about that,” said Outerbridge of the former St George’s youth player.
“We want to see him push on as well, I think he’s got the quality to make the national team in the next one or two years. His attitude is first class.”
While Bay won the competition under the Belco Cup banner for the first time last year, their opponents on Saturday, Rangers, have dominated the early-season tournament in the last decade, winning seven of the 10 finals. This is a match fitting for the final, but Outerbridge insists all four teams are capable of winning the title.
“It’s just about adjusting our minds to be up for the challenge that is going to present itself,” he stressed. “Every team will look to dethrone Bay so it is important that we have that mental toughness to be able to overcome whatever is dealt us over the next few games and the season.
‘We don’t look too much at the opposition, we know what everybody can do, but it is about our performance. It is four quality teams and those teams can beat each other on any given day. Regardless of who is in the final, those are the teams who deserve to be there.
“This is a good opportunity for the youngsters to play in a highly competitive environment, and we try to create that in training and hopefully it goes right onto the field. If they are good enough then they’re old enough, so we expect performances and not just playing them to say we’re playing them. We are giving opportunities to some of the younger players but they have to work hard to keep their places.”
Outerbridge, who has made his feelings known about the decision taken to return cricket to one league, insists it is important at all clubs to create a healthy competition for places among players.
“It gives these players an environment whereas if they go somewhere else they are ready to compete,” said the captain. “That’s what is needed to be created in Bermuda in general. I don’t think we create an environment in our teams where players compete against one another, and as captain we see that in the national team.”