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Cleveland dedicating Eastern Counties effort to ‘Pluke’

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The Devil’s Hole community came out last month for the funeral of Carlton “Pluke” Smith, the former Cleveland president and captain, who passed away in hospital overseas (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The Devil’s Hole community will be out in force on Saturday at Sea Breeze Oval, pushing for Cleveland County to get a victory in the Eastern Counties in memory of former captain Carlton “Pluke” Smith, who passed away last month.

Smith, also a former president of Cleveland and the head of the club’s junior cricket programme, died at Lahey Clinic on National Heroes Day in June at the age of 55.

At the crease: Carlton Smith's casket is placed on the batting wicket at Harris Bay Cricket Field for his funeral service on July 12 (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

In a moving gesture, a motorcade followed the hearse from the airport to the Augustus Funeral Home when Smith’s body was returned to the island.

“It was definitely a sight to see,” Najee Musson, the action president of Cleveland, said yesterday.

“The thing that surprised me was, when we made it back to Devil’s Hole, the amount of people who were out in support. It was definitely an eye-opener.

“We came up from the airport and just the preparation for it, keeping everyone informed and then to execute it without a hitch, was nice We all gathered outside the funeral home for about an hour or so.

“We also had another event after that, a celebration in the neighbourhood in remembrance of Pluke.”

There was also a big turnout for his funeral service at the Harris Bay Cricket Field on July 12. Now the team are motivated to get a victory in his memory when they take on champions St David’s in the second round this weekend.

“The community is working to win the trophy and bring it back home,” Musson said.. “The guys are putting in a lot of work and everybody in the community is looking forward to supporting the team on Saturday.

“We are definitely looking to overcome St David’s on Saturday and the community is rallying behind us to make sure that happens. From Pluke’s passing, the community has come together even more.

“With the whole Covid situation, and people not being able to see each other, it is also something that has brought everyone a little closer and re-established the friendships and relationships that we had within the community.

“It’s been a big uplift in the community, although it was also a tragedy, but everybody knows where we stand and that we know we’ve got to help each other out. This win would also increase the upward spirits in the community right now.”

Ironically, one person who could stand between Cleveland and victory on Saturday is St David’s batsman Chris Douglas, whose father, Steven Douglas, and uncle, Allan Douglas, hail from Knapton Hill and are former Cleveland players.

Douglas been in a rich vein of form lately, scoring 82 in the first round of the Eastern Counties against Flatts to earn the man-of-the-match award. He then scored his first century in Cup Match for Somerset, followed by a maiden century for Willow Cuts in the Western Cuts last weekend when he helped them to victory over holders PHC, also taking four wickets for just seven runs for good measure.

“We have looked at that but you can’t base it on just one player,” Musson said. “We’re looking to defeat St David’s in our fielding and bowling, especially, and right now our batsmen are looking pretty good as well.

“We just have to bring it all together on Saturday. The hunger is there and everybody is ready to go.”

Cleveland ended a 33-year wait to win the Eastern Counties Cup in 2014 when they beat St David’s by 145 runs. They lost the cup to St David’s in 2016 in a thrilling one-wicket defeat at Sea Breeze Oval.

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Published August 12, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated August 13, 2021 at 8:07 am)

Cleveland dedicating Eastern Counties effort to ‘Pluke’

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