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Complacency is Cleveland’s biggest enemy, says Smith

Jabari Darrell, in action last weekend against Flatts, is pushing for a place in Cleveland's team for this weekend's Eastern Counties match against the same team (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

If Flatts’ win over Cleveland County is a timely boost for the Eastern Counties Cup challengers, then it was also a reminder about complacency for the holders ahead of the second round at Sea Breeze Oval on Saturday.

Flatts shocked Cleveland to win the inaugural One First Division Championship Cup between the two promoted sides, with Kamau Leverock returned from overseas to lead their batting with 68 runs at St John’s Field last weekend. They posted 223 for nine before restricting Cleveland to 135 in 31.4 overs, with Nelson Bascome taking four for 16.

“That loss was an eye-opener for the boys,” Carlton Smith, the Cleveland president, said.

Cleveland have played Flatts three times since winning the Eastern Counties in 2014 before losing it in 2016, with two wins and a draw.

Flatts know the game represents one of their best chances to end a winning drought that is even longer than Cleveland’s, stretching 37 years back to 1981, the year the trophy changed hands again a couple of times when Cleveland beat Flatts by three wickets in the first round and then lost to St David’s in the next round.

Last weekend’s win will certainly give Flatts some hope of pulling off another upset in the series, after Cleveland’s triumph over holders Bailey’s Bay in the first round.

“We dropped catches, dropped Kamau about four times and we can’t be doing that,” Smith said. “We beat them twice in the league, so we were pretty much taking them for granted until that game.

“It hurt losing a trophy, but it was an eye-opener. It humbled the boys. They are a good team, taking nothing from them.

“They had Kamau back who gave us some chances that we didn’t take.

“We got Regino [Smith] early, then Kamau came in at No 3 and before he had 20 he gave up a routine catch to Steven Bremar at first slip which he put down.

“Then we missed a couple of other chances before we finally got him out. If we had held our catches, I don’t think they would have got 150.”

Cleveland coach Curtis Jackson was off the island and was scheduled to return yesterday.

Cleveland could make a change to the team, with Jabari Darrell, son of former boxing title contender Troy Darrell, pushing for a spot on his return from school.

He played last weekend, worked up some serious pace, claiming the wicket of Regino Smith and the bowler when Leverock gave his first chance when on three.

“He is one of our most promising youngsters, he listens and the sky is the limit for him,” Smith said of the 17-year-old all-rounder who has been playing club cricket in England. “He could be another Delray Rawlins; he’s really passionate about the game,”

Leverock, who claimed six wickets against Bay last year, did not take a wicket on Sunday.

“I told the guys in training yesterday that they were focused so much on batting against him and applying themselves that he didn’t get any wickets,” Smith said. “At the other end, Nelson Bascome got four.”

“They didn’t seem to respect [Bascome] as much and he got wickets with guys playing reckless shots. Our goals this year were to get promoted, which we did, and then win the county cup, which we also did.

“I try to challenge them by comparing them with the team that won it in 2014 and kept it for two years. The guys are thinking about taking the same team but when you’ve got the cup you might want to carry an extra bat. We’ll see what happens.”

Only three players from the team that beat Bay — Dion Stovell, Mishael Paynter and Dennis Musson — played in the cup-winning team of 2014.