St David’s fear Stovell’s influence
St David's biggest concern this weekend is that Dion Stovell will be in one of his moods today at Sea Breeze Oval.
The East End club have seen first hand this season what Stovell brings to a team, now they just hope he is not a thorn in their side in the second round of the Eastern Counties.
Stovell has helped the league leaders remain unbeaten in the Premier Division. Now the former Southampton Rangers batsman could stand between St David's and their most sought after prize when he plays again for holders Cleveland.
Stovell helped Cleveland dethrone St David's in 2014 and end a 33-year wait to land the trophy, scoring 82 not out that day as Cleveland amassed 292 for eight and then dismissed St David's for just 137.
Stovell's batting record in the competition is probably the best of the current players, having scored 648 runs from 12 innings at an average of 64.80, including three half-centuries and two hundreds.
“He definitely could be a thorn in our side, but if he becomes difficult to remove then we'll try our best to work around him,” said George Cannonier, the St David's coach who has singled out Stovell this season for what he has added to their team in the league.
“It's better to get the better batsman out if we can, and we're going to work extra hard to at least contain him. I don't know how it will go, but if we can get him out early then I think we stand a very good chance.
“If he hangs around it might be more difficult. We've instructed the boys that they have to go up there with a fighting attitude and keep it right through.
“The only way we're going to win that game is to be aggressive. He has come up in our discussions and our tactics.
“He's been a lifesaver for us this season and has helped us get into the position we're in. I don't know if he'll feel obligated to us or anything like that, but I wouldn't mind that.”
Clay Smith, the Cleveland coach who is in England with the Bermuda Cricket Board national academy squad, once opted out of playing for St David's in the counties because their opponents were Cleveland, the team he coached. Stovell didn't take a similar stance, and even trained with his club team this week.
Carlton Smith, the Cleveland president, feels Stovell could be in a no-win situation, unpopular with the St David's fans if he helps Cleveland keep the cup, and frowned on by the Cleveland fans if he does not perform well and they lose.
“Once he decided on St David's as the team he was going to, this issue was raised,” Smith said.
“There is a friendly competition going on. On the other hand how likely is he to score runs against St David's? He scored 90 last weekend [in the Western Counties] and is looking for a hundred this weekend.”
Cannonier has no doubt Stovell will give his all for Cleveland today and then St David's tomorrow when they play Western Stars in the league.
“The boys are looking forward to coming up against him and then playing with him on Sunday,” Cannonier said. “They get along very good and I hope to see some good sportsmanship out there tomorrow.”
Cannonier is confident recalled players Lionel Cann, Chris Foggo and Ankoma Cannonier will play a key role for the team today.
“We needed a wicketkeeper and Chris had a good game against Flatts when he looked good behind the wicket,” he said. “His batting also still looks good.
“We're happy with the team, it wasn't a straight forward pick, there were discussions about certain players and we had to negotiate to come to the team that [captain] George O'Brien wanted.”
O'Brien will lead the team in the absence of the injured OJ Pitcher who Cannonier fears could miss the rest of the season with his knee injury.
“We've had our ups and downs but we still have people like Lionel Cann to pick from,” he said. “We were in a bind losing Fiqre [Crockwell], OJ being in the bike accident and other people not eligible for us, but we are still able to field a fairly decent team. I'm looking forward to it.”