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Players will get one shot to impress selectors

Settled team: Somerset will defend the cup in St George's this month (Photo by Akil Simmons)

Five trial matches in the lead-up to Cup Match now seem a thing of the past.

With Cup Match just three weeks away, neither Somerset nor St George’s have been able to hold a trial match so far.

The Western Counties and the final match for Bermuda in the ICC Under-19 World Cup qualifiers will take place on Saturday, with the Eastern Counties first round next weekend, leaving July 25 as the only available Saturday for a trial before both teams select their teams.

The clubs traditionally held as many as five trials, starting in May, but the late start to the season, which reduced the number of free Saturdays, left the clubs struggling to arrange games.

Somerset, as the champions, will not be forced to make many changes, while St George’s have some key decisions ahead of them, including selecting a new captain to replace Oronde Bascome who has stood down.

OJ Pitcher, the St David’s captain and Rodney Trott, who captains Bailey’s Bay, are the two main contenders to replace Bascome.

Somerset have the benefit of a settled team with Jekon Edness at the helm of a young side, though Jeff Richardson, the coach and selector at Somerset, admits the lack of trials is not ideal preparation for the clubs.

“In the last couple of years we’ve only had one trial so it is something we’re accustomed to,” Richardson said.

“In the past we’ve pushed to get more trials in, and the trials lose their creditability because we can’t provide two strong teams and end up playing one team short or one team weaker than the other.”

With the Western Counties entering the second round on Saturday (Rangers v Willow Cuts at Southampton Oval) and the Eastern Counties set to start next weekend with holders Cleveland taking on Bailey’s Bay, there are few available dates to hold trial matches.

“The season had a late start so everything is congested now,” Richardson said. “If you look at the two teams, simply on the make-up of my team, we’re probably in a better position to deal with the short preparation time that is available.”

Somerset made two changes to their team last year with Jordan DeSilva replacing Kamau Leverock who was playing in England, and Deunte Darrell earning a recall at the expense of Stephen Outerbridge.

By comparison, St George’s made six changes last season after four changes the year before, with 2013 colts Zeko Burgess, Onias Bascome and Christian Burgess all losing their places in the team last season as Somerset scored a comfortable eight-wicket victory.