Old guard still teaching young how it’s done
Players of the past used to be fond of saying that cricket is an old man's game.
Yesterday Southampton Rangers, a team with about seven players over the age of 40, showed there is no substitution for experience as they beat St David's by five runs to reach a fourth straight Twenty20 final.
Curtis Jackson, all of 49, led Rangers to a respectable total of 118 for five when he stroked 53 after opening the innings. Janeiro Tucker, the Rangers captain, also now in his Forties, then made sure St David's did not reach their target, bowling at the death as St David's fell short after needing 41 off the last five overs.
Rangers were expected to struggle this season after losing several players during the transfer period, including Dion Stovell, Derrick Brangman, Shannon Raynor, Oronde Bascome and Ian Armstrong.
But yesterday they just dug deep into their reserves to clinch their third T20 win of the season as Alex Dore, returning from college, contributed a useful 37 after sharing in a second-wicket stand of 74 with Jackson.
“Cricket still has to be played whether we lost six starters, and no other team can lose six starters and still be able to compete,” Tucker said after his three wickets for 25 runs helped keep the St David's run chase in check.
“At the end of the day this is what we've got, we're working hard in training. There is no pressure on us, we're working hard in training and playing as a team. I know we're not expected to win the league but at the end of the day we might come up with a surprise.”
A turning point in the match was the stumping of Stovell for 22 at a critical stage of the St David's innings.
“Any time Dion bats, even when he was playing for us, it's a big wicket,” Tucker said.
“We don't have him now so of course we want to make sure that we minimise his runs as much as possible, but you still have to respect him as a good player.
“But, we're not playing against Dion Stovell, we're playing against the team, St David's, and playing to win the game.
“The experienced players had to bowl at the end and myself and Hasan decided we would bowl the last five overs as we're two of the most experienced players. we didn't want to put the pressure on a youngster.”
Rangers will meet Bailey's Bay in next Saturday's final in what will be a repeat of last year's final which Bay won. Bay beat Cleveland by 19 runs in the other semi-final at Lord's.
“I just want to see good cricket and played in the spirit of the game,” said Irving Romaine, the Bay coach who watched the second match to discover who Bay's opponents would be.
“The fans are finally starting to come back out to cricket and we just need a good game. We've had three close games which shows our character and next weekend we'll look to do well in the final.”
In the First Division final, long-time rivals St George's and Somerset, two of the promotion favourites, will meet in the opening match after they scored impressive victories over Flatts and PHC at Somerset.
St George's chased down the Flatts total of 170 for four with Oronde Bascome, who hit an unbeaten 73, and Ankoma Cannonier, who made 67, adding 134 for the second wicket in ten overs. Somerset posted 186 and then dismissed PHC for just 72 as new captain Greg Maybury scored 70 not out at the top of the order.