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Battle of unbeatens in Oval showdown

Malachi Jones, the Southampton Rangers captain, will be a key man for his team with both the bat and ball in tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash with leaders Bailey’s Bay at Southampton Oval (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The clash tomorrow at Southampton Oval between unbeaten sides Southampton Rangers and Bailey’s Bay could be one of the most exciting matches of the Twenty20 season.

However, Janeiro Tucker, the Rangers player-coach, insists it will be just another match for the defending champions.

“It’s just another day, Bay are undefeated, we’re undefeated so I guess it’s going to be put down as a big match, but all in all it’s just a regular game,” Tucker said.

“We’re just going to go out there and play how we’ve been playing all this time. That’s what I tell the guys, just enjoy the game and play your normal, natural game and the result will take care of itself.”

Bay lead the standings with four wins from four, while Rangers also have a perfect record and with a game in hand. Last weekend they became the first team to pass 200 runs this season while blasting 247 for five against Willow Cuts. Captain Malachi Jones led the way with 81 not out off just 34 balls, with eight sixes and five fours, as Rangers won comfortably by 86 runs.

Openers Kwame Tucker and Janeiro Tucker scored 57 and 50 respectively to lay the foundation for the big total, the latter still enjoying his cricket even as he winds down his playing career.

“For me there’s nothing to prove, I’m just going out there expressing myself,” Tucker said. “I’m just enjoying the role I have to play. My role is to go out there, with no fear and no pressure, get us a good start and let those guys enjoy it afterwards.

“When you look at Twenty20 you’re looking to get a big score because that’s what people want to see, a lot of runs. That’s in the making to happen but on that day things can happen differently.

“Maybe the wicket won’t be prepared as good, or it might rain, so we just have to take it on the day and see how we’re going to approach it.”

Tucker is pleased with the way Jones has taken to his role as captain, his top knock last weekend earning him the BCB Premier Division Player of the Week award.

“Malachi is coming along, maturing, and taking it a bit more serious,” said his coach. “You mature with age.

“He batted real well last week, I just hope he can continue on his good form, keep it going for Rangers and go into Cup Match on a high. Maybe he can get a good total in Cup Match because he’s never really had a good total.

“He’s batting well, bowling well and running the team good, which comes with maturity. I think Malachi has been around long enough, been around a lot of senior players and saw exactly how a captain should be and now I think he’s taking it in perspective and showing people that he’s not just a good player but is becoming a good captain as well.

“I’m phasing out, so he’s got to be the one to take over. The other younger guys are not too far off Malachi, pretty close in age, so it’s time for him to step forward, take over the reins and be a senior player.”

Jones will have extra incentive to do well, as he is also a former Bay player, looking to carry on where he left off last weekend.

Bay were also impressive in their win over Somerset, with veteran Rodney Trott leading them with a top knock of 61 and then claiming three for18 from four overs as they protected their score of 155 in winning by 15 runs at White Hill Field.

In other matches on Sunday, St George’s, after their first win against St David’s, will take on bottom team Willow Cuts at Wellington Oval while St David’s meet Somerset at Devonshire Rec.

In the First Division, Warwick meet Somerset Bridge at Southampton Oval, Devonshire Rec take on Western Stars at the Rec and Cleveland battle with Flatts at Wellington Oval. Leaders PHC, who have a ten-point lead over Western Stars, Warwick and Flatts, have their bye weekend, having played one more game than the other teams.

Torleair Caines was the First Division’s Player of the Week after his 53 not out and one for 28 against Stars last weekend.

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Published July 24, 2021 at 8:11 am (Updated July 24, 2021 at 8:11 am)

Battle of unbeatens in Oval showdown

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