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Wendell the wizard holds key to Stars’ success

Weaving his magic: Smith gives his team some final instructions during a training session at St John's Field (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Makai Young has said Wendell Smith’s coaching wizardry is behind Western Stars’ impressive start to the season.

Smith took the reigns at St John’s Field earlier this year with the remit of turning perennial runners up in league champions.

Stars have been tough to beat under their new coach, playing with a toughness that has been missing on occasion in the past. That new approach was perfectly highlighted in their nail-bitting four run win over St George’s last weekend.

Young took eight wickets in that game, bowling St George’s out for 98, a feat that earned him the player of the week award, but which he said would not have been possible without Smith.

“It was just playing from the heart. I saw that in my Stars team-mates, they never gave up, none of them, they just kept pushing forward.

“It’s just a strong team base right now, plus, we’ve got Wendell Smith there, he’s a wizard. Wendell, right now, he’s a serious coach, we put forward a lot of work, everybody, from the first player to the ones that carry the water.

“We’re all putting in the work.”

Young and Smith did not always see eye-to-eye and the Western Stars player earned himself a club suspension at the start of the season. Young though still turned out to carry the water during the weeks he was not playing, and credited Smith with improving him as a cricketer mentally as well as physically.

“He [Smith] helps you work on the little things, takes you back to the basics, works on your fitness a lot and turns you into a strong cricketer. Helps your mindset and physically.”

Stars will face their first real test of the season today when they face Devonshire Rec in the final of the Central Counties competition, and the two teams are likely to be battling each other for the major honours that remain to be won.

The game at St John’s will afford both sides the opportunity to lay down a marker for the rest of the season.

“It’s going to be a difficult game, but with the fight that we have, Stars have a lot of young guys pushing, and the older guys are pushing as well,” Young said. “Everybody is putting in the work, we’re coming out to play good cricket and give them a good game.”

With the First Division taking a break this weekend because of the ICC Americas Under-19 World Cup Qualifier starting tomorrow, the focus is on the first round of the Western Counties and the Logic Premier Division.

Southampton Rangers face PHC today in the first round of the Western Counties at Southampton Oval, and will be at home again tomorrow in the Premier Division when they host Cleveland.

Defending champions St David’s will look to bounce back from their mauling at the hands of Somerset when they take on Flatts today at Lord’s, with Somerset travelling to Bailey’s Bay tomorrow in the only other league game this weekend.