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Smith signs new coaching deal with Cleveland

Dual role: Smith has told Cleveland he believes he can coach the club side and the national team

Clay Smith will stay at Cleveland County even if he gets the Bermuda head coach’s position, Carlton Smith, the Premier Division club’s president, said yesterday.

Smith, who brought the Eastern Counties trophy back to Harris Bay in his first season as coach in 2014 after a 33-year wait, is one of four candidates for the part-time position.

“We’ve got a contract in place for next year,” said the Cleveland president. “If they [Board] pick him, he is the best man for the job. He told me it wouldn’t be a conflict of interest.

“We train Tuesdays and Thursdays and he’ll train them Mondays and Wednesdays.

“He has brought a more positive approach to our cricket and that positive approach has brought success. As far as building up guys’ confidence and strategising he’s second to none.”

Arnold Manders, who held the Bermuda post this season, Lorenzo Tucker and Herbie Bascome are the others who have applied for the job.

The Bermuda Cricket Board hopes to announce the coaching appointment in the next few weeks.

Smith was appointed as Cleveland coach in the 2014 season when he replaced Allan Douglas.

“[In 2014] when we started off the season and were beaten by St David’s in the Belco Cup, guys were not happy with Allan, so I made the decision.” Smith said.

“Clay said he had unfinished business with Cleveland. He wanted to win county and we did that. I will go to my grave having told people that if we hadn’t made that decision [to appoint Smith] we wouldn’t have won county.

“He took over two weeks into the season, we played one game then we played St David’s in the Belco Cup. After that I called Clay.”

Smith’s contract with Cleveland expired at the end of the season but he has agreed a new contract to remain at the club.

“We’ve talked to St George’s and that will be our home field again next year, now I can relax until we have our prize-giving next year,” said the president.

Cleveland endured a couple of controversies last season, including the incident in the second round of the Eastern Counties when delaying tactics by the holders, and threats directed towards umpires, prevented Bailey’s Bay from winning the trophy as time ran out with the scores tied.

Some Cleveland players were handed suspensions, including Shaki Darrell who got a 14-game ban for two Level Three offences of threatening the umpires during the match.

Then, in the Champion of Champions final against Willow Cuts — also at Lord’s — wicketkeeper Jason Anderson was involved in a brawl with George O’Brien, the Willow Cuts guest player which brought Anderson a life ban from the Bermuda Cricket Board.

“The sad thing to me is after that incident happened and we got the guys back on the field, 35 minutes later we had the game sown up,” said the president. “He threw it all away when he couldn’t hold his frustration for another 35 minutes. Now he’s done for good which is sad. He was key to our success in the last couple of years.”

Cleveland will begin the defence of their title when next season’s series switches to Sea Breeze Oval, the venue of their shock victory over St David’s in 2014.

“I tell people we’re going to lose the county cup one day, but it isn’t going to take us 33 years to win it back because we have some of the best youth on the Island,” Smith said. “The hard part is keeping them in the game when they turn 16.

“Winning the league was one of our goals this year but Rangers beat everybody in the first half and pretty much ran away with it. Our highlights were defending county cup and winning Champion of Champions the first time back out and we were the only team to beat Rangers in the league.”