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Stovell returns to Rangers’ captaincy

Changing of the guard: Dion Stovell (left) is back as captain of Southampton Rangers, replacing Janeiro Tucker who is out this weekend with a knee injury (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Dion Stovell is back as captain of Southampton Rangers, replacing Janeiro Tucker who will miss tomorrow’s top Premier Division 50-overs match against champions St David’s at Lord’s.

Stovell, who was last captain of Rangers in 2014 before Tucker took over the helm midway through that season, returned to the club this season after two seasons at St David’s. He is one of eight players joining Rangers, making them strong favourites for the title won in the past two years by St David’s.

Tucker, the club’s most experienced player, will miss the match against St David’s as he recovers from a knee injury picked up in Malaysia recently with the Bermuda team.

“Janeiro is going to be out on Sunday because of his knee but all the new players are going to be there,” said coach Ricky Brangman, referring to the likes of Tre Manders (Western Stars), Charles Trott (PHC), Sheldon Caesar (Warwick), Nirobi Mills (Bailey’s Bay), Najiyah Raynor (Cleveland) and the returning Stovell, Malachi Jones and Shannon Rayner.

“Janeiro’s going to continue on playing, we’ll just have to see how serious the injury is going to be,” Brangman said.

Even without Tucker, Rangers will be formidable opponents for the champions, although Brangman is determined not to get distracted by all the hype. Stovell and Rayner will be playing against their former team who won’t have their new captain, Chris Douglas, back from school for another week. Justin Pitcher has been filling in as captain.

“It’s going to be a good game, we’re going to put our best foot forward and go from there,” said Brangman whose biggest challenge will be picking the team every weekend from a big squad. Veteran players like Ryan Belboda, Kyle Lightbourne, Curtis Jackson and Hasan Durham have made way for the new crop of youngsters though Brangman says he still has veteran spinner Vernon Eve in his plans for the season.

Brangman is also determined to keep developing young seamer Tao Smith, the grandson of Somerset coach Jeff Richardson.

“I’m very pleased with Sheldon Caesar, Nirobi Mills and Tayo Smith, who is playing on Sunday,” Brangman said. “Most of the time he’ll be playing because we are looking to the future now. He will have a lot of playing time.

“Vernon is not stepping down and is still in our plans. He’s a warhorse and doesn’t just quit like that. He’s a nice guy to have around, he is still putting the work in and is willing to play.

“On behalf of myself, the team and the fans, I would like to say thank you to the guys who have stopped playing for us now, like Kyle, Hasan, Curtis Jackson who is back at Cleveland as coach, and Ryan Belboda.

“Thank you to them for being there and giving me and the team lots of support. Kwame Tucker is semi-retired but will still help out.”

Brangman added: “The new players we’ve got are a good addition to our team, plus they are young guys. We had good training sessions on Tuesday and Thursday, the morale is high and everybody is ready to play. Malachi and Shannon have had a good start [as openers], we had some good bowling spells with Nirobi getting ten wickets in two games (5-57 v St David’s and 5-26 v Western Stars).

“When the season first starts you always have a lot of players, when everybody is fresh and wants to play. But when you pick the team somebody is always disappointed. That’s everywhere, because you can only play eleven.”

Bailey’s Bay, the other team expected to battle for the title, take on Western Stars at Sea Breeze Oval while promoted team St George’s, fresh from two Open League wins last weekend, will play Somerset away.