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Counties format under discussion

The Eastern Counties format which allows for a 70-48 distribution of the 118 overs for the day will only change if that is the will of the four member clubs, Eastern Counties president Stephen Douglas disclosed yesterday.

This year's Eastern Counties series produced three victories but some still remain unconvinced that the 70-48 format was the best for the Island's oldest and most popular counties.

“If the membership comes with an idea, I'm the chair and only have a deciding vote if it is a tie, but we're going to look at it this year,” said the president.

“Even though people may criticise the format, it is nice to see that when people apply themselves and apply the tactics that it can work for you.

Douglas just completed his second term as president after taking over from Harold Millett last May.

In six matches he has seen four wins and two draws.

In each of the three matches this year the team winning the toss opted to send their opponents in to bat.

Cleveland inserted holders Bailey's Bay and restricted them to 236 for seven from their allotted 70 overs before replying with 187 after being set a target of 237 in 48 overs, a rate of 4.93 runs an over.

Challengers St David's did the same when winning the toss against Bay in the second round, this time restricting the champions to 89 in 40.1 overs and reaching their target with the loss of four wickets.

Saturday's toss was also a good one to win, which Flatts did, but St. David's posted 283 for eight in their maximum 66 overs and then dismissed Flatts for just 92.

The Eastern Counties is the only series to use such a format, as changes are hard to come by in the 109 year-old competition. There has been talk of it being changed to a traditional 60-overs a side contest, but the current format which still allows for matches to be drawn.

“It's not difficult, sometimes it just takes various clubs to put things forward,” said Douglas. “Some people understand the value of what we're doing and some don't. People keep forgetting that a draw is a result too.

“It's always nice to get outright victories, and the first game (this year) was exciting even though people might criticise the format. We're looking to review the regulations, junior county and senior county, and whatever the clubs' wishes are and once we decide upon it we will do what's best for the association.

“I prefer the clubs to have an open and honest dialogue first and then make the decision that is best for the association going forward. Sometimes people will come to you and make a statement, but they can go to their club and get the club to back the idea first.”

Douglas urged clubs to develop a strategy on how to approach their task of dethroning the champions. Cleveland came very close to beating holders Bailey's Bay in the first round, but then faltered after slumping from 144 four to 187 all out.

St David's coach Wendell Smith devised a plan to beat Bay in the second round and publicly stated his team would send Bay in if they won the toss. They did, and Bay were shockingly dismissed for just 89.

“A lot, I would say, is down to the coaching and captaincy in Bermuda,” said Douglas, who is also one of the Island's top umpires. “Once the coaches and captains understand what they have to do we can get a lot of results. They should already know what their plans are for next year whether they bat first or field first.

“Bailey's Bay got 236 runs in 70 overs at a run rate of 3.37 an over and Cleveland had an opportunity to bat 48 overs — 288 balls to get 236 runs. People don't count balls, they just count overs and time.”

Next year the series returns to Sea Breeze Oval and the draw has already been made and will be the same as this year. St. David's open the defence of their title against Cleveland in the first round on July 19 at Sea Breeze Oval. Hosts Bailey's Bay will meet the winners in the second round on August 16 before Flatts provide the opposition on August 30. In the junior counties, Bailey's Bay will meet Flatts in the first round before Cleveland play the second round and St David's the final.

Fiqre Crockwell was voted player of the series following his two catches, a stumping and 18 runs in the second round against Bailey's Bay and then his knock of 99 against Flatts in the final, a score that was adjusted after the official scoreboard and the commentators had him scoring his first century in the competition. Fans even ran onto the field to congratulate Crockwell for what they thought was his century.

Another St David's player, Sammy Robinson, won the Stan Smith Trophy for Spinner of the Series following his four wickets for 23 runs against Flatts on Saturday.

St David's batsman Fiqre Crockwell fell just one run short of a century in Saturday's defeat of Flatts in the Eastern Counties final.

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Published September 04, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 03, 2013 at 7:45 pm)

Counties format under discussion

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