Complacency is biggest enemy of St David’s
After the relative flops of Bailey's Bay and Devonshire Cougars the season after winning league titles, St David's will be determined not to follow a similar path this season.
Wendell Smith, the St David's coach, has been working his players hard ahead of their season-opener on Saturday against Cleveland in the Belco Cup semi final.
Whether it will be harder to retain their league title than it was to win it last season remains to be seen, but Smith believes that St David's are ready for the challenge.
“In Bermuda in both sports [football and cricket] it isn't difficult to win trophies if you have a quality team and the players are committed,” said Smith who is in his fourth year as coach of St David's.
“However, that's the key variable, how committed are the players? I read that Devonshire Cougars were extremely committed two years ago, but this year less committed, and you reap what you sow.”
Added Smith: “Bailey's Bay won four trophies two years ago, last year it was noted that they were not as focused in their training and paid the price. In 2012 they beat us five times and last year we returned the favour.
“That's something that our players need to know, that you don't win games on paper, it's commitment to training, application and execution on the field.
“We know that as champions people are going to be gunning for us and we have to be up for the challenge. We have a fantastic bowling attack and if our batting clicks we'll be difficult to beat.”
St David's have not had much success in the Belco Cup but Smith has an impressive record as a captain, being the first captain to win the competition (previously the Premier Cup and Camel Cup) three straight years (1988, ‘89 and ‘90) with St George's.
The tournament was changed this year to include ten teams, but the ‘cream' still rose to the top with the top four teams in the league from last year now in the semi-finals, though some have argued that giving St David's and Southampton Rangers byes into the semi-finals was unfair.
“As the first and second placed teams [from last season] we deservedly get put through to the semi-finals,” Smith insists.
“Should we not be granted some reward for being league champions and runners up? In the normal scheme of things there would have been four teams and we would have been in the semi-final anyway.”
Despite often having home advantage in this competition, St David's have not fared well in the Belco Cup, having lost in five finals in the last ten years.
Their only wins were in the last two years of the Camel Cup and Smith is well aware of that record.
“We haven't fared well in this tournament but Rangers deservedly beat us after we dismissed them cheaply down at Lord's last year. If you don't play up to par against good competition then you lose and that's how it should be.”
Smith expects keener competition with the two division this season. St David's have picked up one signing, Colin Stewart from PHC, though there was one other PHC player Smith failed to land.
“The player I wanted to pick up was Delray Rawlins who went to Bailey's Bay instead,” Smith said.
“I felt a left-arm spinner taking the ball away from the right-handers to go along with our right-handers Delyone [Borden], Sammy [Robinson] and Del Hollis, that we would have had four quality spinners.
“I spoke to his parents at an Eastern County game and let them know I was interested in having their son come to St David's but as I hear through the grapevine both St George's and Bailey's Bay also wanted him.
“He has a very bright future and I felt at St David's, on a big field, that it would have been ideal for him.”
Chris Douglas, who returned to Willow Cuts, was another player on the St David's radar. “He would have been an ideal addition because our batting is the only concern I really have,” Smith said.
One player who the club will welcome back is seam bowler Angelo Cannonier who is returning to the game.
“He's a diamond in the rough, a very good bowler and people have told me he can bat,” Smith said.
“He's a welcome addition to the team and has a fantastic attitude. He took a break for four years and people have commented to me that had he not stopped he would be playing for Bermuda.”
Smith says Kevin Hurdle would be an excellent signing for St David's if the Bermuda Cricket Board approves the loan move of the Flatts pace bowler to the league champions.
Hurdle is seeking a loan move to St David's in the hopes of playing in the Premier Division rather than in the First Division with Flatts. He has trained with St David's for the last two weeks and awaits clearance from the Board to play.
“We would love to have it sorted by the end of the week,” Smith said.
“He would be an excellent addition, I have no problem saying that. The thing that he brings with him is a very high work ethic.
“He loves to train and loves the challenge of lots of physical. He's had three sessions with us.”
2013 position: Champions
Captain: OJ Pitcher
Transfer in: Colin Stewart (PHC)
Transfer out: None