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Battle for survival heats up

Key man for Cuts: Dexter Basden

Willow Cuts, Somerset Cricket Club and Flatts will fight for one last chance to remain in the Premier Division when the final round of league matches are played on Sunday.

Southampton Rangers rewarded themselves for winning the title by touring England ahead of next weekend’s Twenty20 final.

The bottom three teams are trying to avoid the two automatic relegation spots, with the reward for a win being a play-off match against Devonshire Recreation Club, the First Division runners-up.

Next season’s top flight will be reduced to six teams.

Cuts have a lot on their plate this weekend as they are also involved in tomorrow’s Champion of Champions final against Cleveland County at Lord’s.

However, survival remains their top priority and they will have veteran players Dexter Basden and Kevin Fubler ready to help the cause.

“Our main focus is to survive, so that’s more important,” Dwight Basden, the team’s captain, said. “Being as the trophy falls first we will assess that first. We’ve played Cleveland twice this year, won one and lost one, and we’ll just have to come out to play both days.”

Cuts, Somerset and St David’s all had points deducted for late payment of umpires fees, while Cuts were dealt another blow to their survival hopes when they lost the points from their match with Rangers that was abandoned. Cuts and Somerset are level on 29 points at the bottom while Flatts, seemingly doomed a few weeks ago, are five points ahead in the play-off spot.

Somerset, who are still waiting on a Bermuda Cricket Board decision regarding their match against Cleveland last weekend, which was not played because no umpires showed up, face a tougher road to safety, having to play St David’s at Lord’s while hoping that Cuts beat Flatts.

“It’s hard but our fate is in our own hands,” Basden said. “It’s been a very tough season, you try to set goals and then something happens that is out of your control that affects your morale.

“It wasn’t just the points deduction for not paying the fees on time but we also lost the points against Rangers when the game was abandoned.

“Sometimes we have to look in the mirror to see the reasons why certain things happen. “However, win, lose or draw we’ll stick together. Obviously we’ll give 100 per cent on Saturday because the final falls first, but our priority is to survive.”

Cuts will be able to call on guest players George O’Brien and Malachi Jones for tomorrow’s final, while Cleveland will have captain Allan Douglas Jr eligible after serving a two-match Eastern Counties ban. They could also field a couple of guest players for the final.

Both Dexter Basden and Kevin Fubler played last weekend in the Champion of Champions semi-final against Western Stars. Dwight Basden is not certain whether this will be his final season.

“I’m going to play a role somewhere with the club to ensure the things that happened this year don’t happen again,” he said. “My body said two seasons ago that it would be my last season but I’ll do anything to help Cuts get ahead.

“Some guys in our ranks are leaders and I feel now is their time to shine, not just their individual contribution to the team but also in the aspect of leadership. I just appreciate the support that everybody within the club has given me.

“They believe in me and I believe in them, that’s the reason I came back out to play, to help us survive after a nucleus of top players had left us.”

Flatts were promoted last season while Somerset are building a young team. St David’s do not have anything to play for when they host Somerset, as the top four places for next season’s Belco Cup have already been determined.

Cleveland, who are third, play second-placed Bailey’s Bay at Wellington Oval on Sunday and will be looking for a win to ensure a top-three finish.