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Paynter and Smith eager to justify places

Fresh start: Mishael Paynter is back in the St George’s team after an eight-year absence and is expected to open the batting (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Colt Chare Smith and the recalled Mishael Paynter virtually picked themselves for the St George’s Cup Match team, with good performances with the bat and ball for the Vice-President’s XI in the final trial on Saturday.

Smith’s inclusion on Saturday night caught many by surprise, as he was not initially selected for the final trial and played only after Stefan Kelly pulled out with an injury. In fact, he was chosen to play in the Somerset trial match, but had a late change of heart.

Smith, the grandson of Robert Simons, the former Cleveland County and St George’s fast bowler, has played Colts Cup Match for St George’s and played in the final Cup Match trial two years ago.

Simons played only one Cup Match for St George’s in 1984 and was, at the time, the oldest colt, at 38. He still follows cricket, regularly watching his other fast-bowling grandson, Cejay Outerbridge, play for St David’s. Ken Pitcher, the former St David’s and St George’s fast bowler, is the great-uncle of both Outerbridge and Smith, so fast bowling runs in the family.

“He always told me he wanted to play where I played, Cejay told me the same thing,” said Simons, whose son, Dean Simons, is a seam bowler for St George’s in the league. “Next year you’ll see Cejay, Chare and Dean!”

Simons, who has to work both days, hopes to be able to watch the game on television. “I just hope he has a good game, I spoke to him yesterday and told him to just play his normal game,” he said.

Smith, the 20-year-old Warwick Workmen’s Club fast bowler, who attends school in Bristol, England, said: “My grandfather is a big part of my cricketing career and him playing down there always played in my mind.

“He’s been very helpful every year. I really couldn’t see myself playing anywhere else.

“My parents are Somerset fans and my dad requested that, because I hadn’t been up there before, I have a look at both sides. Out of respect for my father I went up there and trained with Somerset. I trained twice.”

Smith is now starting to feel the excitement in the final build-up to Cup Match and is looking forward to performing well.

“All the congratulations and good lucks and everyone talking about what they think is going to happen,” he said. “It’s a lot to take in, but I’m ready to do what I have to do. I’m not trying to think about it too much; just think of it as another game.

“I’m sleeping well. I’m very excited to be playing Cup Match this year, I haven’t really experienced anything like this in terms of crowd size and the importance of it to so many people in Bermuda.

“Having played for Bermuda, I have some experience with being under the eye, but I’m just looking to doing what I have to do to help win the cup back.”

Paynter earned a recall after an eight-year absence in the wake of his knock of 61 runs in the final trial match, the selectors signalling to him to “give up his bat” as the Vice-President’s team closed in on a comfortable seven-wicket victory. Paynter, the club’s vice-president, faced 66 balls and hit eight fours, before going off feeling good about his chances of selection.

“You would hope so, but you’ve seen them call people off at either end of the island and that person still wasn’t picked,” Paynter said. “It was a good feeling to be called off, thinking I have a foot in the door, but then it was a question of whether the five selectors wanted to take me.”

Paynter made his debut at Somerset in 2010, the same ground where he scored a career-best 155 in a league match against Somerset three months ago. That innings put the 32-year-old in contention for a spot in the team.

“And it was against the Somerset opening bowlers, Jordan DeSilva and Greg Maybury,” coach Ryan Steede said. “We’ll finalise our opening batsmen once we have our team talk.

“There are some things to look at and consider before we make a final decision. That’s something I’ll wait to talk to my captain about.”

Paynter is happy he has achieved his goal of returning to the team after a long spell out.

“I’m not too worried about my absence,” he said. “For the bulk of it, I was away in school and then getting myself settled back on the island.

“I hadn’t really focused on cricket until the last two or three years.

“My skipper, Macai Simmons, wants me to play until 35 or 36, so I’ve got cricket left in me. I set a target for myself at the beginning of the season to make Cup Match again.

“My coach, Ryan Steede, has said for the last few years that I have the potential to do it; it’s just whether I want to apply myself to actually achieve it. I began to apply myself from the start, so the thought was there even before the season started.

“As this was the first season back up for St George’s, we didn’t want to just survive [in the Premier Division]. That wasn’t good enough for us; we wanted to beat and challenge the best.”

Paynter added: “All season we haven’t entered any games thinking that we can’t beat a team, and that’s been one of our strengths. We have a belief that we can beat anybody on any given day.

“The bulk of the team is St George’s league players, six or seven of us, and we have instilled that belief in the guys who have joined us. Names don’t matter, and we saw that in the county game.”

Paynter has been opening the batting for St George’s all season and is prepared mentally to do it again in only his second appearance in Cup Match. “At this time I don’t know who with, but myself and Treadwell [Gibbons] have been opening the batting all season and have been pretty successful,” he said.

“I’m ready for it. There hasn’t been a bowling attack during the season that has bothered us. I think the four colts are pretty exciting. Aanybody who saw Chare Smith bowl on Saturday and then watched Charles Trott play on Sunday [in Colts Cup Match] will know that St George’s did very well in selecting those two as colts.

“Temiko Wilson came down to St George’s this season, he showed us his potential and has earned a place. Even in the Cup Match trial, he was patient — 44 off 71 balls.

“With Detroy Smith, for some people it is shocking that he is still a colt because of what he has done in previous seasons for St George’s as well as in Cup Match trials.”