Flatts ignore Wilson’s Cleveland credentials
Cleveland have opted for experience as they open the defence of their Eastern Counties title against Flatts today at Sea Breeze Oval.
The Harris Bay club have opted to include veteran batsmen Aaron Adams and Curtis Jackson, and spinner Hasan Durham after being forced to make at least three changes from last year’s team because of the absence, for different reasons, of Allan Douglas Jr, Jason Anderson and Treadwell Gibbons Jr.
Flatts, meanwhile, were still confirming their final team last night despite selecting a team on Thursday evening that included colt Okera Bascome, of St George’s, who qualifies through being born inside the Flatts boundary.
Ajuan Lamb, of St David’s, a colt last year when he was playing for Devonshire Rec in the league, was also in the team. One shock omission, however, was Temiko Wilson, the Western Stars wicketkeeper-batsman.
“When I heard they left out Temiko Wilson, I was totally baffled because to me he is probably the most in-form batsman in the country right now,” Clay Smith, the Cleveland and Bermuda coach, said.
“Just three weeks ago, he scored a hundred against us, so that really baffled me as to why he was left out, to the point that I contacted him this morning as a national squad player. I asked him ‘did you not go training or make yourself unavailable?’ and he said they just opted to leave him out.
“That’s a big plus for us, but we just have to play the team that they presented and not take anything for granted.”
Two years ago at Sea Breeze Oval, Cleveland dismissed Flatts for just 57 in 20.1 overs and reached their target by 2.30pm, leaving Cofield Robinson, who captained Flatts on his debut, to apologise to the Flatts fans for their performance.
Now Cleveland are hoping their experienced players will help them to negotiate what could be a tricky first-round match against the First Division leaders.
“We’re definitely not overconfident,” Smith said. “We’re taking on Flatts and giving them the respect that is due. “We had a long talk on Tuesday night about their team from a tactical standpoint, just like we would do for Bailey’s Bay and St David’s.
“We have a lot of experience but would have preferred to take a few younger players, especially for the fielding aspect. Due to the circumstances, we went with what we feel is our strongest team at this time.
“With us not having access to certain players for whatever reason, Flatts feel that they have a better chance than they’ve had over the last few years. Cricket’s played on the day; two weeks ago we scored 200 runs and last weekend we were bowled out for 68, so anything can happen.”
Cleveland have been boosted by the recent return of Damali Bell from school abroad and he will share the new ball with captain Dennis Musson. The pair did the bowling damage against Flatts two years ago, Musson taking five for 25 and Bell four for 24 in a one-sided encounter.
“Our strength is in our bowling,” Smith said. “We played down at Bailey’s Bay a few times and the wicket is very bowler-friendly, so we’re expecting our top bowlers to put in a good performance.
“If we bowl and field anywhere near our potential, we should be OK at the end of the day. Hasan gives us a different dimension; it’s always good to have a left-arm spinner in your team. Plus, he’s been around the national squad and has played Cup Match, so has loads of experience.”
Jackson, Durham’s Southampton Rangers team-mate, will relish his recall to the Cleveland team.
“Curtis has obviously been brought into the team as a bat because we’re short on batting,” Smith added. “With his experience, we’re expecting Curtis to come good for us.
“He’s had a few fifties this year with Southampton Rangers, so we’re expecting him to continue doing what he does.”
Cleveland: Dennis Musson (captain), Dion Stovell (vice-captain), Adrian Burrows, Steven Douglas Jr, Aaron Adams, Jason Simons, Clay Darrell, Damali Bell, Makai McGowan, Curtis Jackson, Hasan Durham. Reserves: Jelani Richardson, Jacobi Butterfield, Q’Shai Darrell