Pressure and expectation mounts in east
The banners along Mullet Bay Road leading to Slip Road make a bold statement to the St George’s Cup Match team, the residents are desperate for a victory.
Messages like “don’t miss those catches” and “we want a victory” greet motorists as they enter St George’s and the players are taking notice, too, hoping to end three years without the cup after Somerset’s bruising victory in 2012.
“It’s a young team, but there are two things I’m looking to do here, rebuild and win the cup back,” Ryan Steede, who is in his first year as coach, said.
“The captain [OJ Pitcher] is the senior player in the team, as well as George O’Brien, while Jason Anderson is going to be asked to step up as he’s the oldest player in the team,” Steede said. “He has to carry a bulk of the load so it is very important for him to rise to the occasion.”
Anderson won’t be burdened with opening the batting and keeping wicket, with Christian Burgess being given the wicketkeeping responsibilities while Anderson concentrates on his batting, possibly opening with Treadwell Gibbons, his Cleveland team-mate.
Clevie Wade is assisting the team as manager and assistant coach, and brings to the team the experience of winning back the cup in 1983 after Somerset won it in 1979, their first victory in 20 years.
“We basically have to get 20 wickets and I feel that the bowlers we have picked can get those 20 wickets,” said Wade as he watched the St George’s Colts team nearly pull off victory in the Colts Cup Match on Sunday.
“It’s going to take the strike bowlers and whoever else the skipper calls upon to do the job,” Wade said. “Guys have to step up to the plate and show commitment from ball one to the last ball of the game. Guys have to be hungry, passionate and work hard.
“Somerset are going to come here to play cricket and they won’t lie down. One thing about them is they seem to stick to a plan and that’s what we have to do. We need to put runs on the tins and take wickets and I feel we’ve got the team to do that.”
St George’s made an additional three changes to the three forced upon them through unavailability. Oronde Bascome, who stood down as captain, has been dropped along with Shannon Rayner, his Southampton Rangers team-mate, and Lateef Trott.
In their absence a strong emphasis has been put on a four-prong seam attack with Damali Bell and Stefan Kelly coming back to link up with George O’Brien and Kyle Hodsoll.
“George has the backup this year, but we have to make inroads early and put the pressure right on them from ball one,” Wade said.
A deciding factor could be the rain with more in the forecast up to at least Thursday.
“Mother nature is going to play a part in this but if we have two full days then we will have some outstanding cricket,” Wade said. “Two good teams have been selected, but for us to win the cup we have to be more hungry and have the will to win.”
Wade won the cup against John Tucker’s side in a 1983 match that had some rain. Now St George’s have contend with Tucker’s son Janeiro, who always seems to produce something special at Wellington Oval where he has scored his four centuries, the last in 2013.
“Janeiro is the key for them, they feed off Janeiro,” Wade said. “Down here is where he makes his runs but if the chance comes we have to take it.
“The vibe is here, everybody in the community is feeling it and I’ve talked to a lot of people who feel this could be the year.
“The [banners] are good motivation, they will tell you what it takes to win, hold your catches and take wickets. I’ve been out of Cup Match for years, but now as a coach and a manager I still get nervous. I’m just asking the youngsters coming in to put their best foot forward and do their best.”