Bay won’t be intimidated by St David’s, says Hill
Former Bailey's Bay star wicketkeeper/batsman Ricky Hill is backing the Eastern Counties champions to defend their title against challengers St David's at Lords on Saturday.
Bay will rest their title on the line against what many predict will be a formidable Islanders' line-up that will be playing on home turf.
Hill, though, is confident that with the proper approach the champions can rise to the occasion and see off the threat.
“If Bailey's Bay can remain positive and focused on the job at hand they should be able to get through and retain the trophy,” he said. “St David's looks like they can possibly have a strong team but I would urge Bailey's Bay and the troops not to be intimidated by that.
“It's going to be an interesting match and I am certainly backing Bailey's Bay who just have to stay positive and play positive cricket.”
Hill, who is among a handful of players to score 1,000 or more runs in the Eastern Counties, reckons that Bay possess considerable depth in both their batting and bowling to come away with the desired result.
But he admits the unavailability of early order batsman Tre Manders, who is currently representing an ICC Americas team at the West Indies Under-19 Regional One Day tournament in St Kitts, is a big miss.
“That takes a bit away from the batting and he's fresh off a hundred in Cup Match so he would've been full of confidence,” Hill said. “But we have other players that can step up and fill that void.”
St David's will enter the match with a psychological advantage having beaten Bay in the previous meeting between the East End rivals. The Islanders beat Bay by six runs in a league match at Lords last month that went right down to the wire.
Hill believes the toss and pitch conditions will have a strong bearing on the outcome of Saturday's cup clash.
“I think the toss may determine the outcome of the game while a lot also depends on what the conditions are,” he said. “I've seen one game in St David's where the bounce was uneven and I think those conditions and winning the toss will be most important.”
Last season saw Bay emerge as the dominant team in domestic cricket after winning four trophies, including a first league championship in decades.
But they have struggled this season, surrendering both their Belco Cup and league titles without much resistance.
“If you look at Bay from last year I think the first three games they were without a few of their key players and by losing one or two early games you could lose the morale easily,” Hill said.
“I also think that last year they were together very early and this year they've had injuries and one or two players away so that may have had an effect.”
Despite their poor form in the league, Hill expects that Bay will be a completely different beast come Saturday.
“On Saturday they will be focused on the actual game and that's Eastern Counties which is the second biggest game outside of Cup Match,” he said.
“If Bailey's Bay can remain positive and focused on the job at hand they should be able to retain the trophy.
“St David's and Bailey's Bay have a big rivalry so it's important, not only to the players, but also to the community.”
Champions Bay were due to announce their squad last night while challengers St David's are expected to announce their squad today.
Bay thrashed the Islanders by seven wickets in the Eastern Counties last year.