St David’s test comes at right time for Stars
Western Stars have enjoyed a perfect start to the Logic Premier Division League, but coach Wendell Smith accepts they will face their toughest test so far on Sunday when they host St David's at St John's field.
Both teams are unbeaten after two matches but will have different aspirations this season, with St David's aiming for another league title and Stars aiming to stay up in their first season back in the top division.
St David's lead the standings with 28 points, two more than Stars while Bailey's Bay are a further point back on 25.
Smith, a former St David's coach, watched them post a formidable 340 against Southampton Rangers in the Belco Cup semi-final and acknowledges their depth in batting makes them one of the strong favourites for the league along with Bailey's Bay.
He thinks the St David's batting is even more formidable than when he coached them to league titles in 2011, 2013 and 2014 before stepping down and taking over the Stars job last year.
“It is interesting to note their line-up, particularly the batting department,” he said.
“While St David's went three out of four years as league champions between 2011-2014, this year's squad is even more powerful — on paper.
“They have added the two-time league MVP Dion Stovell to their line-up, along with [former] Cup Match players Shannon Raynor and Allan Douglas. With Shea Pitcher coming into his own, and C.J. Outerbridge training consistently with the national squad, they have all the makings of a championship team.
“Realistically, it appears that only Bailey's Bay will challenge them for the league title.”
Stars have won both league matches so far against Willow Cuts and Southampton Rangers, showing they could hold their own in the reduced six-team Premier Division this season.
“There is no pressure on Western Stars,” Smith said of Sunday's game. “This is certainly a David and Goliath situation.
“We have been tipped by one of the St David's players to take the drop and I will ensure that my players are cognisant of his remarks to me.
“While we are unbeaten, the next two weeks will show us just how far we have come, and perhaps how much further we need to ascend to reach their heights.
“With a match with Bailey's Bay to follow, much will be revealed in respect to our standard.
“Truth be told, my main objective in these two matches is to see our players perform to their capabilities, particularly our key batsmen.
“We are a team that is still developing tactically and technically, and the improvement is pleasing to note.”
Bailey's Bay, the other team with a perfect record, are at home to a Willow Cuts side looking for their first win, while Rangers take on Cleveland at Southampton Oval.
Janeiro Tucker, the Rangers captain, will return after serving a one-match ban last weekend.
Somerset and St George's, the two promotion favourites in the First Division, will meet at Somerset on Sunday.
It will be the first match for Somerset in the 50-overs league while St George's already have two wins under their belt to sit top of the tables.
Flatts and Devonshire Rec, two other teams with their sights on promotion, both have home matches, with Flatts taking on Somerset Bridge at St David's, and Rec hosting Warwick in their second match this weekend.
They play PHC at home on Saturday, a match rescheduled from May 8.
• The Bermuda national team will play an inter-squad trial match tomorrow at St David's, the first of three such matches with other matches scheduled for Sea Breeze Oval on June 11 and 25.