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Pitcher: this is our year

Feeling confident: Pitcher believes this year’s St George’s team is capable of going to Somerset and winning the cup back (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

OJ Pitcher hopes St George’s can turn negatives into positives as they try to win Cup Match for former team-mate Fiqre Crockwell.

The East End community was rocked by Crockwell’s shooting last month and controversy even surrounded the selection process as the challengers made six changes, including bringing back Oronde Bascome, a former captain, who was chosen despite not playing in the final trial match.

“I’m really pleased with the team, we definitely have a winning combination, pace, spin, batsmen who can hit the ball around or can hang in if needed,” said Pitcher, who suffered defeat last year in his first year as captain when he replaced Bascome.

Now Pitcher has Bascome and another former captain, Lionel Cann, in the team along with cousin Justin Pitcher, Allan Douglas Jr and Rodney Trott.

It was not an easy team to pick, compared to Somerset, after the selectors spent about four hours deliberating the selections.

“I was told that it is the longest it has ever taken,” Pitcher said. “You discuss a lot in meetings, each player and how they can benefit the team and there are a lot of things that come up ... injuries, fitness,” Pitcher said.

“In Oronde’s case it was a difficult decision, but because of his reason for being abroad — the birth of his child — and the fact that when he left here he was in good form, we all came to the same agreement. I think he’s going to come good this year.”

The omission of Kyle Hodsoll, their best bowler last year, also raised some eyebrows, but there were doubts about his mobility after a knee injury in April.

“We know Kyle’s got a lot of heart, but the concern was his knee and moving around,” Pitcher said. “I just hope he gets back to 100 per cent for next year and considers representing St George’s again.”

Stefan Kelly had a good bowling spell in the final trial match last weekend and played again the next day for St David’s, his first appearance for the club after returning from England.

Together with George O’Brien, the bowling hero two years ago, and Justin Pitcher, St George’s are banking on the St David’s trio to penetrate Somerset’s deep batting together with spinners Trott and Douglas.

“Stefan is a guy who can run in all day for you, he is very fit, bowls a good line and length and on Saturday I thought he bowled extremely fast,” Pitcher said.

“George got wickets on Saturday to prove once again what he can do, while Justin is another player who will give you a lot of effort. I’m very pleased with the combination and looking forward to the two days.”

Bascome will open the batting with Treadwell Gibbons Jr in the absence of Crockwell and Jason Anderson, who is suspended. Pitcher is determined to bounce back from last year’s heavy defeat at home as Derrick Brangman tilted the match in Somerset’s favour with his batting and bowling.

“I’m honoured to be given another chance as captain, they could easily have said ‘that didn’t work, let’s go somewhere else’, but I have been given the opportunity to redeem myself and I relish the challenge,” he said.

“There’s no pressure on us, really, the expectations aren’t as high as we feel they should be,” Pitcher said. “It’s not like we made changes just to make them, these are quality, in-form players who have come in.

“Allan is in excellent form right now, there’s Rodney who has been taking wickets in the last few weeks and has proved himself with the bat in Cup Match many times.

“Oronde, we have been told, scored a hundred the other day in England and before he left scored runs as well.

“Looking at the team, cricket-minded people will know that Oronde is the other opening batsman. three, four and five is something we’re still looking at.

“We have Lionel, loads of experience, Rodney, who has been vice-captain and is captain of a successful Bailey’s Bay team, and then you have Oronde, another former captain.

“We also have Stefan, George and Justin who have played international cricket and will be that extra help, the shoulder to lean on.

“I can’t wait, really, we’ve all had positive feelings since the team has been picked. We feel this is our year, there’s been so much negative that something positive has got to come out of this.”

The umpires for the match will be Oscar Andrade and Emmerson Carrington with James McKirdy the third official. Roger Dill is the match referee. This the same quartet that officiated in the 2014 game in Somerset.