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DeSilva: Protecting trophy is top priority

Winning intent: Jordan DeSilva, the Somerset captain, bowls to a St George’s batsman during last year’s Cup Match at Wellington Oval. The all-rounder is confident his team can take the 20 wickets required to defeat St George’s(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Jordan DeSilva admits he would happily draw every match in which he is captain of Somerset, such is the emphasise on protecting the West End’s most prized possession.

It has been six years since St George’s were dethroned as champions after losing by ten wickets at Somerset Cricket Club, with the onus firmly on the challengers to wrest the trophy away from DeSilva and Co.

DeSilva is yet to experience the thrill of leading his team to victory — the 2016 and 2017 matches ended in draws — and said his team will strain every sinew to heap more misery on their rivals.

There will be no reckless pursuit of glory, however, as DeSilva is aware of his responsibility to first and foremost maintain his side’s vice-like grip on the most coveted piece of silverware in Bermuda.

“The goal is always to win the game,” DeSilva said. “Drawing is nice when you’ve got the cup, but you still always want to win.

“If you offered me a chance to go my whole career [as captain] with the cup I would take it — even if they were all draws!

“You always want to win, though, regardless of whether you’re the captain.

“I’ve been lucky to win it twice as a player and I want to feel that again. I imagine it would be a whole different feeling as a captain.”

DeSilva said last year’s rain-affected battle between the two teams felt like a winning draw for his side.

Persistent showers ensured just six overs were completed on the first day, but Somerset were still able to put themselves in a winning position after bowling out St George’s for 89 runs in their first innings.

Somerset gave themselves a lead of 122 after declaring on 211 for seven, but the holders fell five wickets short of a second successive win in the East End as St George’s dug their heels in.

“Even last year, playing just one day, we were still disappointed that we didn’t get the job done because we felt we put ourselves in a good enough position to do so,” DeSilva said. “Hopefully this year will be a better experience for us as we’re at home in familiar surroundings.”

Somerset certainly appear to have selected a side capable of claiming the 20 wickets required for victory. As expected, they have made only two changes from last year’s line-up, with colts Steven Bremar and Kwasi James replacing Kamau Leverock and Derrick Brangman, who are unavailable.

“No matter who is in our team, we’ve always picked a certain amount of bowlers because we always have the intent to win,” DeSilva said.

“We thought Kwasi was our best option in terms of replacing a bowler, as we lost two bowlers from last year. Our intention is to win, not just retain the cup. We need to bowl them out twice.

“Steven is probably the form batsman on the island right now. He’s scored two hundreds in his last two knocks for Cleveland and he batted superbly well in our final trial [scoring 61 from 79 balls] and pretty much picked himself.

“We also have two or three guys who aren’t necessarily bowlers who I can call upon if we need extra overs from somebody.”

DeSilva, still only 28, feels more confident in his decision-making and leadership than he did two years ago when he often turned to old heads Janeiro Tucker and Jacobi Robinson for guidance.

“That was the idea of giving me the captaincy because I had more experienced players around me like Janeiro and Jacobi,” said DeSilva, who will be playing in his eighth Cup Match.

“As much as those guys would still be a help, I don’t feel as though I need to lean on them as much now. They’re no longer in the team, but I still have experienced guys around me like Jekon [Edness] and Malachi [Jones], who was vice-captain for some years.

“The whole team is experienced and [Bremar and James] are the first two colts we’ve picked in about six years. We are a young, but experienced team.”

Despite being more renowned as a bowler when he made his Cup Match debut in 2008, claiming the prized scalps of Clay Smith and Delyone Borden, DeSilva believes batting has become his biggest asset.

“I’ve had one of my better seasons, especially with the bat, scoring a couple of hundreds at the start of the season,” said DeSilva, whose Somerset side were relegated from the One 50 Premier Division this season. “I think my bowling has been average; my batting has definitely overtaken my bowling.”

In Macai Simmons, St George’s have a relatively inexperienced captain who is desperate to leave his own imprint on Cup Match.

DeSilva expects the St George’s team to mirror their captain’s never-say-die attitude and has plenty of respect for his opposite number.

“St George’s have picked a high percentage of home-grown players,” he said. “Allan Douglas might not play for St George’s right now, but he’s St George’s born and bred, no matter which club he plays for.

“I know what Macai is all about and I’m sure the team will mirror him in terms of his confidence and never-say-die attitude. We’re up for it, though, because they want what we’ve got. It’s ours and we’ve got to defend what’s ours.”