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Players prepare for final trial

Training hard: St George’s Cup Match hopefuls, led by Justin Pitcher, get in some last minute work before Saturday’s trial matches at Wellington Oval (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Training has been going well for the Cup Match challengers who could be forced to make a few changes when they select their team on Saturday night.

Lionel Cann has been ruled out after being hospitalized with a blood clot on his lung while Delray Rawlins, the young all-rounder who scored a first-innings half-century on debut last year, remains doubtful after recently returning to England. There has been talk that Rawlins, age 17, could fly back to the Island the day before Cup Match and leave immediately after to return to Sussex where he is in their academy.

Ryan Steede, who took over the coaching of the league team this season, isn’t certain about Rawlins’s availability but is otherwise pleased with the commitment shown by the players during Tuesday and Wednesday evening training sessions.

“I can’t touch on Delray right now because I don’t know the full truth of that,” Steede said yesterday. “I’m hearing two things: that he’s coming and then he’s not coming.”

Steede admits Cann’s experience will be missed as they put together a team under new captain OJ Pitcher. Cann has been a mainstay in the team since making his debut in 1993.

“[Losing] Lionel will be a big blow to the team and to the club,” the coach said. “But, it also gives the opportunity for somebody else to make the most of it, to step in line and make their claim. There is always a positive to every negative.

“The numbers have been great [at training], guys are putting in the work. I’m really pleased with that and the response I’m getting from the players. From Day 1 the numbers have been excellent and even last week when it rained, we still had a fabulous turnout.”

Among those at the sessions is Oronde Bascome, who is hoping to hold on to his spot despite stepping down as captain, while Stefan Kelly turned out last night to train after returning to the Island on Monday evening. All eyes will be on the pair, and others, during Saturday’s final trial match.

It would seem the East Enders have an abundance of seam bowlers at their disposal with Cleveland pair Dennis Musson and Damali Bell training last night along with Zeko Burgess and Lateef Trott of Bailey’s Bay, George O’Brien and Justin Pitcher from St David’s and Chare Smith of Warwick, the leading wicket-taker at this month’s under-19 tournament.

Willow Cuts spinner Kavon Fubler was another player at the session along with Vernon Eve, the Southampton Rangers slow left arm bowler.

“The door is open for new players to step up and stake their claim,” Steede said. “Oronde has been putting in the work and, although he’s not captain, he wants to be a part of the set-up. I can’t fault his effort at all, he’s been to every training session.”