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Rangers out to prove that West is still best

Making a return: Stovell will play for Rangers on Sunday (File photographby Akil Simmons)

Dion Stovell will play against his club team St David’s as Southampton Rangers look to end their season on a winning note at home in the Champion of Champions final.

Stovell, who helped St David’s win the Logic Premier Division title, is not eligible to play for them in the Champion of Champions as he represents Cleveland County in the Eastern Counties.

Southampton, his former club, are happy to call on his services as they await the winners of Saturday’s semi-final between St David’s and Western Stars, the Eastern and Central Counties champions.

Both matches will be at Southampton Oval this weekend.

Rangers will be without batsman James Celestine, who played his first match of the season in the Twenty20 final against Bailey’s Bay at Somerset Cricket Club and top scored with 38.

Stovell, who played for Rangers when they dethroned Willow Cuts as Western Counties champions, will be a more than adequate replacement for Celestine.

“Dion will be playing for us, so that’s a boost for our team,” Ricky Brangman, the Rangers coach, said. “Anybody would feel good to have Dion Stovell in their team, he’s the best all-rounder in Bermuda, to me.”

Stovell was one of seven players to leave Rangers after they won the league last season, forcing the club to call on experienced players such as Kyle Lightbourne and Jason Wade to help them out.

Lightbourne, who played last weekend with a leg injury, will miss this weekend’s final as his football team, Robin Hood, are playing in the Dudley Eve Trophy.

Rangers will also be without young batsman Alex Dore, who has returned to school overseas.

“After we lost the players we sat down and had a meeting and said, ‘We know we’re not going to win the league but we’ll aim for third’ and we achieved that,” Brangman said.

“I take my hat off to the captain [Janeiro Tucker] and the other guys for hanging in there, as well as players like Ryan [Belboda], Kyle Lightbourne, Jason Wade, Kwame [Tucker] and Andrew Raynor who came out and helped us.

“We went into the Western Counties and won that, we had a chance in the Twenty20 and unfortunately Bay beat us, but now we’ve got another trophy to go for on Sunday with the Champion of Champions.

“I’m not disappointed, overall we were good but what I didn’t like was in some games we were short. I’m proud of the boys that they hung in there.”

The Champion of Champions return last season was marred by a fight in the final between Jason Anderson, of Cleveland, and George O’Brien, the Willow Cuts guest player.

Anderson received a life ban while O’Brien was suspended for six matches. Neither Anderson, nor Cleveland or Cuts will be involved in the competition as a new champion will be crowned, although O’Brien will play for St David’s whom he led to victory in the Eastern Counties over Cleveland last month.

Rangers will meet either St David’s or Stars in the final, with St David’s, by Eastern Counties rules, able to call on several guest players like Chris Foggo, Ankoma Cannonier, Macai Simmons and Oronde Bascome of St George’s.

In contrast Western Counties rules limit the number of guest players in their competition to two per team, which means that Derrick Brangman will miss out as his brother, Ricardo, the Rangers wicketkeeper, will be the other guest player.

“I’m not too fussed about who we’re playing, I’m just worrying about my team,” Ricky Brangman said. “After the game on Sunday we sat down around for a while and some guys were disappointed, but sometimes it is just not your day.

“I told them that this weekend we have another chance and we have to put our best foot forward, play hard and enjoy the game.

“We’ll go out on a good note, having been in two finals.

“St David’s are a strong team and congratulations to them on winning the league. They worked hard and stuck to their game plan.”

Gershon Gibbons, the spokesman for the combined counties, said: “We are delighted to host another round of the Champion of Champions for 2016 and the committee has recommitted to building upon the success since resurrecting the event last year.

“We want to continue our vision of creating the full branding of our joint venture for Bermuda cricket, which includes focusing on junior cricket and promoting stalwarts of county cricket.

“The members will be active in seeking a title sponsor moving forward and we appreciate the support from the Board, International Sports Shop and Barritt’s for supporting us again this year to make it happen.”

The 50-overs matches start at 10am each day.

Lloyd Fray, president of the BCB, added: “I am very proud that the three associations have continued this historic competition which was resumed last year with the support of the Board.

“It has its own unique prestige and always produces entertaining cricket.

“It provides an exceptional boost to an exciting last month of our season, as spectators will have the opportunity to watch clubs battle for title supremacy between the counties.”

Entry to the weekend’s games is $10 for adults with free admission for children under-16 and seniors.