Lack of unity may prove costly for St David’s
St David's and Bailey's Bay, the unbeaten pacesetters in the Logic Premier Division, will meet at Lord's on Sunday in the first of three encounters that will go a long way to deciding the league title.
The two sides have won all four league matches so far and this weekend's match, which represents the final match of the first round, will decide first place in the standings.
And, if matches go according to form over the next couple of months, the final match of the season on August 28 at Lord's could produce a thrilling climax to the season. Two of the three league matches will be at St David's, who presently lead Bay by six points.
Bay hold the advantage in meetings so far this season, beating St David's in the Twenty20 in April and then again at Lord's in the Belco Cup final three weeks ago. On paper there is little to separate the teams, with both sides possessing considerable depth in both the batting and bowling.
On Sunday, St David's managed to comfortably beat champions Southampton Rangers despite the absence of bowlers Justin Pitcher, with a knee injury, Kevin Hurdle and early-order batsman Shea Pitcher who was off the island.
George O'Brien still has two games to serve in his six-game suspension.
“Things seem to be going OK with us, little things that can be improved on,” George Cannonier, the St David's coach, said. “We're are a champion team and just need to learn to play like champions. But I'm happy with the effort so far.
“I think the difference between us and them is they have a much fitter squad and they are more unified. That's what beats us, sometimes we get out there and play like strangers to each other.”
St David's will also be hoping history does not repeat itself, as they went from posting 340 against Rangers in the Belco Cup semi-final, to struggling to score 128 to win a rain-shortened final the next day, losing by 31 runs.
Last weekend they blasted the Rangers bowling again, posting 294 for six on their way to an easy 140-run victory. Now, all eyes will be on them to see how they cope against a Bay side that can match them in every department.
“We just need to get a little more aggressive and I'll be happy when that happens,” Cannonier said.
Cejay Outerbridge, the grandson of Robert Simons, the former Cleveland pace bowler, has been one of the outstanding performers for St David's so far, earning a call-up to train with the Bermuda team.
“I think with his talent and build, and being one of the fastest on the island right now, his cricket should take him a long way,” Cannonier said.
Bay are unbeaten in all competitions this season, also reaching the final of the Twenty20 tournament which they won last season.
“This is a very important game for us and there is a lot at stake,” Rodney Trott, the Bay captain, said.
“It's always a rivalry between us and St David's and that's what we look forward to, and what the fans look forward to. Hopefully the fans come out to see some exciting cricket.
“Even though we have beaten St David's twice this season we are not taking anything for granted against them, because they have players that can blow us off the park too. We'll see on Sunday who performs on the day and wants it more. Hopefully it's us.”
In the other matches, Cleveland take on a Western Stars side looking to bounce back after two consecutive league defeats. The match at Wellington Oval involves two of the three teams expected to be in a fight against relegation this season, although Cleveland picked up their first victory last weekend against Willow Cuts.
Southampton Rangers host Cuts at Southampton Oval in the other match.
In the First Division, Somerset meet PHC tomorrow before hosting Warwick Workmen's Club on Sunday. Warwick beat Somerset Bridge last weekend when teenager Omari Evans scored 92 not out in a total of 212 and then Stefan Dill claimed six for 22 as Bridge were dismissed for 158.
PHC entertain St George's at PHC Field, while Devonshire Recreation Club, the unbeaten league leaders, take on third place Flatts at home.