St David’s unwilling to risk picking Douglas
St David's have “played on the side of caution” and left out batsman Chris Douglas for today's Eastern Counties final against Bailey's Bay, with Oronde Bascome of St George's coming in as their only change to the team that beat Cleveland in the last round.
Controversy surrounded Douglas's inclusion against Cleveland after he was handed a three-month suspension for all cricket by the Bermuda Cricket Board two days earlier for an altercation with a Willow Cuts player in a recent league match.
The club met with the BCB earlier this week and even delayed their team selection for a day to await clarification from the Board, but decided on Thursday night not to include Douglas.
“We haven't had official communication back from the Board but with the controversy surrounding it we have played on the side of caution,” Clevie Richardson, the St David's president, said.
Both teams have selected strong teams for the counties final, with St David's including four players from neighbours St George's as they aim to be champions when the series returns to Lord's next season. Bascome last played for them in 2013, when they dethroned Bay in a low scoring match at Lord's, dismissing Bay for just 89 before winning by six wickets.
OJ Pitcher, the St David's captain, is still sidelined through a knee injury following a bike accident, though he did hobble onto the field to celebrate his team's dramatic victory over Cleveland two weeks ago.
St David's have retained veteran Lionel Cann, the Warwick player-coach, and St George's trio Chris Foggo, Ankoma Cannonier and Macai Simmons.
Rudell Pitcher was the St David's hero along with youngster Cejay Outerbridge after their last-wicket stand of 36 carried the challengers to victory by one wicket.
“I have faith in my selectors, we have a strong team to defend the cup and I look forward to another great match in the Eastern Counties,” Richardson said.
With the threat of rain hanging over the game, Richardson is hoping the weather stays fair.
“We can't control mother nature, all we can do is show up on the day and give our best,” he said.
“This is definitely a family rivalry, we're all in the Eastern Counties family and we look forward to playing Bailey's Bay.
“They got the best of us in the Belco Cup and the Twenty20, which I would consider a preseason game, but when it came down to the league we stood up.
“We were undefeated when we met Cleveland and the next day were still in celebration mode and suffered our first loss [against Western Stars].
“Since which we had a tough challenge against Southampton Rangers and rose to the occasion, which speaks well of my players, and I just hope for all involved that it is a great game tomorrow and we come out victorious.”
And with another important meeting against Bay on Sunday, which could decide the league for St David's, there won't be much celebrating tonight by either team.
“Although Sunday is just as important, we're not looking past Saturday right now,” Richardson said. “It would be a great weekend for us if we can wrap up the two major trophies as far as our club is concerned.”
After last weekend's win over Rangers, St David's began to switch their focus to this weekend's “double-header” with Bay, in what will be their most important weekend of the season.
“The first day may dictate how the second day goes,” Sammy Robinson, the St David's manager, said.
“If it doesn't go our way then we'll still have the Stars game [on September 3] to win the league. We beat Bay twice in the league and they beat us two before that so it comes down to the decider. Hopefully we can come out on top both days.”
St David's will not have the likes of Allan Douglas Jr, Dion Stovell and Kevin Hurdle today, but can call on the trio for tomorrow's league match.
In other Premier Division matches tomorrow, Southampton Rangers will meet Willow Cuts at Southampton Oval and Cleveland take on Western Stars at Wellington Oval.
Devonshire Rec will play Somerset Bridge in the lone First Division match at Devonshire Recreation Club.