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Stars plan to shine for Manders

Rain may cast a cloud over tomorrow's two Twenty20 double headers at St David's and Somerset, but Western Stars are hoping there will be more sunshine than gloom around St John's Field this season.

Stars are due to play their opening match of the new season against Flatts in the second match at Lord's as coach Arnold Manders looks to build on the foundation laid the past two seasons by Wendell Smith, who got the team promoted and then kept them in the Premier Division last season with a fourth-place finish.

Stars were a dominant team during Manders's time as a player and captain, when they had the likes of Treadwell Gibbons, Jeff Richardson, Gregory Sampson, Wayne Richardson and brothers Andre and Anthony Manders.

A few off-season transfers have provided some nostalgia with three of those players' sons — Tre Manders, Jekon Edness and Jacobi Robinson — returning to their roots. Manders is the son of Andre, Edness the son of Anthony and Robinson the son of Wayne Richardson. Treadwell Gibbons Jr rejoined the team last year.

“It's looking pretty good in training but it's different when you get out there in the middle,” Manders said.

“I'm sure all the boys are looking forward to the season, I've got a nice blend of the players that I coached as youngsters at Stars and there is a mix of players in their 30s, a few in their 20s and then two teenagers, Jaiden Manders and Dalin Richardson, who are in the [Bermuda] Under-19 squad.

“Treaddy, Jacobi, Jekon and Tre, who was younger than everybody else, all came up around Stars and that's where they learnt their cricket. They moved on and now have come back.

“We have a few other players who we had as junior cricketers and took to Barbados like Patrick Thomas who went to play for Devonshire Rec and has now come back. They are coming along quite well and I'm pleased with the progress so far.”

Manders accepts the expectations could be high and already there is a buzz of excitement ahead of the new season. Weather permitting, Manders, Robinson and Edness will all mark their return tomorrow.

“The main goal for us is retaining the Central Counties, trying to win the Champion of Champions and trying to get a top four finish in the league,” said Manders who played a couple of games last season as a fill-in. His services are not likely to be needed this time, with the youngsters eager to take the club forward, perhaps soon to have some success to match their football team, Dandy Town Hornets.

“I hope it doesn't rain and that we get a chance to get out on the field to see exactly where we are,” the coach said. “The club is really up for it, a lot of spectators and fans who died off when we stopped playing are coming back. It's a positive vibe, they even come to watch us train.

“The foundation has been put down and I just need to build on it. Hopefully with the players we have we can challenge for the league this year, but if we don't we'll definitely be competitors next year.

“I get stopped in the grocery store all the time. We've got the players to bring back those glory days.”

The format for this year's T20 competition will feature teams from the Premier and First Division in a mixed format, with evening league teams Tuff Dogs and North Village also involved. Stars also have Southampton Rangers and Warwick in their group.

In the opening match at St David's, St George's will meet Devonshire Rec while Willow Cuts play PHC and Rangers take on Warwick in the two matches at Somerset.

The top two teams in each of the four groups will move to the championship flight and the remaining teams will battle for the plate trophy. The final is scheduled for Sunday, May 28, a week before the BCB's 50-over season is expected to commence.

Family affair: cousins Tre, left, and Jaiden Manders played together for Dandy Town last season, now they will be team-mates for Western Stars during the cricket season (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

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Published May 06, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 05, 2017 at 11:27 pm)

Stars plan to shine for Manders

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