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New-look Cuts still in it to win it

Not backing down: Cuts might have lost some key players, but Basden insists they’re not just making up the numbers

Willow Cuts were hardest hit of all the Premier Division teams in the recent transfer period, but returning captain Dwight Basden still expects them to be competitive against holders St David’s in today’s Belco Cup semi-final at Somerset Cricket Club.

It will be a rematch of last year’s final when Cuts, in their first appearance in the final, went down by seven wickets. They also lost to St David’s by 42 runs in their season-opening T20 match last weekend, but Basden is encouraged considering they fielded five youngsters with little experience in senior cricket. They won’t be playing today just to make up the numbers, their captain assured.

“Our emphasis always is to be in it to win it and being it is a competition that the club has never won we always put our focus on trying to win it,” Basden said.

The opening batsman didn’t play at all last year but is back as captain after the departure of several players, including Malachi Jones who will be making his debut for Bailey’s Bay in the other semi-final against Southampton Rangers.

“The numbers are large, it’s just about getting the right blend of players,” Basden said. “We had five of the top players leave us but Cuts are strong and things will go on. We’re trying to mix the experience we have with up and coming talent.”

Dean Stephens, a former Cup Match batsman, is Basden’s vice captain this season, and together with Bergon Spencer Jr the trio will be the backbone of the team’s batting, now that another talented batsman, Shaquille Jones, is in the process of moving back to Somerset Cricket Club after one season at Cuts.

“It’s definitely a blow, but in our team anybody can be replaced,” Basden said. “We lost top players and obviously that’s going to hurt but we still have guys who I believe in and who the club believes in.

“If anything it [departures] has brought more harmony because everybody there now is born and bred Cuts, apart from Dean Stephens. We still have some good players, Deunte Darrell and Kavon Fubler who can give me five overs of pace and five overs of spin and was our second high batsman last weekend [against Rangers in the T20 final].

“I kind of retired but knew the club was going to be short of experienced players and when I came back out I didn’t have the intention of becoming the captain but I’m a diehard Cut. I know I can count on the guys that I have, I believe in these guys. I enjoyed watching them from the sidelines but now that I’m back out there I’ll do my best.”

St David’s will have their captain OJ Pitcher back from international duty, along with cousin Justin Pitcher while Cuts will welcome back the likes of Kavon Fubler, Deunte Darrell and Sheroy Fubler back after missing the St David’s match last weekend.

“One thing about St David’s they always come to play cricket, they don’t come to lose and neither do we,” Basden said.

Bermuda Cricket Board have released a schedule for the rest of the domestic season, although it is likely to change as they work to accommodate various club requests and the ICC Under-19 World Cup Qualifier which will be held on the Island in July.

Notable fixtures that have already been pencilled in include the first round of the Western County Cup on July 4 between PHC and Southampton Rangers, with the winners facing Willow Cuts a week later.

The Eastern County Cup, meanwhile, begins on July 18 at St David’s.

In a break from previous years the Twenty20 competition will finish in June, with the final on June 6.