Rangers land title despite first defeat
Wellington Oval (Southampton won toss): Cleveland beat Southampton by ten runs
Treadwell Gibbons struck an unbeaten century and Detroy Smith performed with both the bat and ball as Cleveland handed Southampton Rangers their first league loss of the season.
One day after clinching the Premier Division title Rangers had their hopes of going unbeaten in the league dashed when Cleveland pulled off a narrow victory to assure their own safety in the top division.
“It was good and bad; the bad is we didn't win today, the good is it's nice to win the league and I'm proud of the players,” said Ricky Brangman, the coach of Rangers who are set for a tour of England on Thursday where they will watch the one-day series between England and Australia.
“I've been saying all season that we lose too many wickets to pass scores and it happened today. Cleveland came with a game plan and congratulations to them.
“Overall, I'm really happy for the fans and the club members and I just want to enjoy this.”
Sent to bat by Rangers, who were missing key batsman Dion Stovell, Cleveland lost three wickets in the first eight overs as Rangers had them in early trouble at nine for three before a middle-order fightback enabled them to post a challenging 240 for eight.
Gibbons, coming in at No 5, added 81 for the fifth wicket with captain Allan Douglas Jr who contributed a dashing 66 from which 60 of the runs came in boundaries.
He reached his century with a four through covers in the closing overs, stroking 100 not out from seven fours and five sixes.
After Douglas departed, Gibbons found another willing partner in Detroy Smith whose 35 from four fours and a six at No 8 enabled Cleveland to pass 200 as he and Gibbons adding 84 for the seventh wicket.
Janeiro Tucker, who shared the new ball with spinner Hasan Durham, had impressive figures of three for 16 off ten overs while Durham took two for 39. Vernon Eve and Alex Dore were expensive, going for 66 and 79 from their ten overs while Derrick Brangman, named Cup Match MVP during Somerset's prize-giving on Friday night, had one for 40 from his ten overs.
Brangman kept Rangers in the run chase with an even 50 in the middle order after Dore and Chris Pitcher laid the foundation with an opening stand of 54. Cleveland began to turn the match around thanks to a good spell by Smith who claimed the first four wickets with 107 on the board.
First, he bowled Pitcher, than took a brilliant ankle-high return catch from a full-blooded Dore straight drive to remove the left-handed batsman.
Six runs later Smith struck again when he trapped Shannon Rayner lbw, before bowling Ian Armstrong on his way to figures of four for 52 from his ten overs.
Curtis Jackson and Brangman put Rangers in a good position for victory with a fifth-wicket stand of 90 when Smith was involved again, this time holding a well-struck Jackson pull shot on the midwicket boundary.
When Brangman departed on 212 for six moments after reaching his 50 from six fours and two sixes, Cleveland were very much back in the game, with captain Janeiro Tucker seventh out on 218 after Bryce Daniels took a good low catch at midwicket to remove the Rangers captain for five.
Cleveland kept their composure to take the final three wickets for 12 runs to wrap-up the victory, as Dennis Musson bowled 14-year-old Tayo Smith on his debut for the final wicket.
Musson finished with three for 31 while Gibbons, who kept wickets briefly as Jason Anderson tried his hand at bowling the new ball, took two for 45.
“I'm happy for my skipper who hung in there and supported me all season,” Brangman said.
“I really wanted to go undefeated but I'll take this one on the chin.”
Rangers had a couple of close results in the last few weeks, beating Bailey's Bay in a low-scoring match at Southampton Oval and then edging out Somerset by one wicket. Yesterday their luck ran out.
“We've had a good season but we didn't come here to play today, we came here knowing we won the league so it was like a stroll in the park,” Tucker said.
“It we had come knowing that we needed to win in order to win the league then it would have been a whole different outcome.
“Compliments go out to the coaching staff, including “Curly Joe” [trainer Leroy Wilson], as we did a lot of physical work down at Horseshoe Bay and running up and down South Shore.
“What you put in is what you get out.” Rangers, return from Manchester on September 14, in time for the Twenty20 tournament starting the following weekend.