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Counties competitions to take priority in shortened season

Devonshire Rec players celebrate a wicket as Arnold Manders of Tuff Dogs awaits a new batting partner during a Central Counties match in 2019. Manders, now the president of the Bermuda Cricket Board, is hoping the cricket season can start on June 19. (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The Bermuda Cricket Board has signalled its intent to fit all three county competitions into another shortened cricket season.

The competitions will be a priority, though no dates have been confirmed for the Central and Western Counties which usually start ahead of the Eastern Counties, scheduled for July 17, August 14 and 28.

The Central Counties will be played at Devonshire Rec, with the hosts also the defending champions from 2019. Other teams in the competition will be Western Stars, North Village and Tuff Dogs.

The Western Counties need four Saturdays in order to hold the four rounds involving champions Southampton Rangers and four challengers, Somerset Bridge, Willow Cuts, Warwick and PHC.

“They did not put any meat on the bones, but the intention is to have all three counties,” said Dennis Williams, a representative for the Central Counties and member of the BCB’s cricket committee, which has been drafting the schedule for the season.

“Determining how many dates are going to be available determines how we will play.

“If we include county that will take away most of the Saturdays, then it’s a matter of how we get the league games in.”

Williams participated in a Zoom meeting on Thursday night hosted by Arnold Manders, the BCB president, and his executives who met with club officials to discuss plans for the season which they are planning to start on the weekend of June 19.

“They didn’t affix any dates for the counties, or any other competitions,” Williams revealed. “The only other thing they spoke about was the 50 overs and playing two full rounds of that.

“The intention is to have all three counties on Saturdays, the discussions for that will come a little later.

“With the three counties you are looking at ten playing dates which we will have to arrange around Cup Match final trial dates and other things.”

Williams said the intention is to avoid scheduling the Central and Western Counties on the same day. “But you may see the counties stretching into September,” he warned.

The Central Counties normally starts off the counties action, before the Western Counties begin their competition.

“We haven’t done a schedule until we are certain what is going on,” Williams said. “Then we’ll have a meeting to do the draw.

“Devonshire Rec are the defending champions and will be playing from the first round. St John’s Field is under major construction so it will be at Devonshire Rec. It was scheduled to be at Devonshire Rec last year anyway.”

The Central Counties have gone through the most changes of the three counties, losing teams like Police, Nationals and Young Men’s Social Club years ago after they all dropped out of the league.

“Devonshire Rec and Western Stars are the mainstays, it’s probably been five years now that we included North Village, then Tuff Dogs came in the year after North Village,” Williams said.

Last year only Twenty20 matches were played in a shortened season because of the Covid pandemic. The one-day games will be a priority this year because the Bermuda senior and Under-19 teams are scheduled to travel to tournaments this summer.

The senior team is set to compete in the second round of the World Cup Challenge League B in Jersey from September 1 to 14 and Under-19 in the World Cup Americas Qualifier in the United States from August 18 to 25.

“I’m very optimistic we’ll have a fairly decent programme this year, of course we’re always going to be guided by Covid regulations and anything that may happen to the country to cause us to stop,” said Williams, a cricket committee member.

“It looks like everything is a go right now and hopefully we can continue and have a pretty productive season.”

Cal Blankendal, executive director of the Bermuda Cricket Board, is pleased to have a date in place to start the new season.

“For each member club, players on their active roster will be tested for Covid-19 via a swab test prior to resuming training,” said Blankendal, who was in on the meeting with the clubs.

“Once that has been done, and they have received a negative test, those players and clubs can train according to the government guidelines.

“The clubs are very supportive of the initiative and thanking Government for allowing us to play. There is a small window to get all the information back to the applicable departments, but we are 100 per cent behind getting cricket started for the season.

“Everybody is working together to make it happen.”

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Published May 22, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated May 22, 2021 at 7:57 am)

Counties competitions to take priority in shortened season

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