St George’s in with a sniff as T20 league braces for thrilling finish
Just a month after handing St George’s a heavy defeat in Cup Match, Somerset need a favour from their rivals who take on Southampton Rangers in a Twenty20 make-up match on Saturday at Southampton Oval.
Somerset are second to Rangers, the defending champions, on net run-rate, but St George’s will join the pair on 60 points going into Sunday’s final round of Premier Division matches if they can beat Rangers for a second time this season.
This match was postponed on July 4, but now one of the teams are set to capitalise on that match in hand. Rangers, who have been without Dion Stovell the past two weeks, will be either sitting ten points clear of Somerset going into their final game against St David’s or it will be all to play for between three clubs.
Wendell Smith, the St George’s coach, is playing down his team’s chances, although he is pleased with their recent form of three straight wins. Sunday’s victory over St David’s not only eased their relegation fears but relegated their opponents in the process.
St David’s, with only three wins in nine games, are 20 points behind St George’s and Bailey’s Bay but with only one match remaining, against Somerset on Sunday. Willow Cuts are the other relegated team, after picking up just one win in the competition.
Smith will remember Sunday’s derby win for the brutal batting display showed by opener Allan Douglas Jr, who smashed 146 off just 57 balls, with 18 sixes and four fours.
“He played three shots that I don’t think I’ll ever forget; he hit a square drive from the clubhouse end that went like a missile over to Red Hole … about seven feet high the entire way,” Smith recalled.
“Then he hit an identical shot from the opposite end that went like a bullet over towards the entrance to the [school] gymnasium. He just backed away and smashed both shots.
“The shot that amazed me the most was the ball he hit that went past the bank to the right of the school where there is a blue house at the top of the hill. The ball may have landed on the embankment behind there and rolled down to Cashew City!
“The ball was still travelling when it was going past that house at the top. That has to be the biggest six I’ve seen in my entire cricket career. He’s gifted similar to Glenn Blakeney where his hand-eye co-ordination is phenomenal. He was brutal, hitting three or four sixes in a row at times.
“It wasn’t like we weren’t playing against some quality bowlers; there was George O’Brien, Justin Pitcher, Kevin Hurdle and Brian Hall. But you have to consider the fact that it was the day after Eastern Counties, so obviously those guys would have been somewhat fatigued.”
St George’s would have been right in the thick of the title race had it not been for a heartbreaking three-run loss to Bailey’s Bay in mid-July and then two losses to Somerset. They did manage to hand Rangers their first loss on August 15.
“Somerset have probably been the surprise team this year, they’re the only team to beat us two twice,” Smith said. “In the second game at Somerset we were in with a shout after we scored 170 but in that match Alje Richardson produced a brilliant innings and took them over the line.
“We got Chris Douglas early and then Kamau Leverock for 40-odd so we were in with a shout, but Alje batted brilliantly.”
Smith added: “We lost a couple of matches I thought we should have won, particularly the first Bailey’s Bay game when we had 24 balls to make 28 and had five wickets down,” Smith said. “The guys know we should have won that match.
“Rather than dwell on the result or dwell on whether we win the league, I’m just happy to see the guys enjoying their form. The other thing I’m most pleased about is we’re not dropping catches now.
“When you take your catches, it takes pressure off. Allan had two chances [against St David’s], one in the thirties and one in the sixties, both to McLaren Lowe. One was on the boundary, which went through his hands and went over the boundary for six, and the other he spilt at long-off, which he dived forward to catch it and dropped it about knee-high.”
That score of 250 for three by St George’s beat the previous high this season of 247 for five posted by Southampton Rangers against Willow Cuts on July 18 and Somerset’s 222 for six against Rangers on August 22. Other 200-plus scores were 219 for three by St George’s against Rangers on August 15 and Bailey’s Bay’s 215 for three against Cuts on August 8.
Douglas, who managed scores of only four and a duck in Cup Match, is certainly making up for it now, with 102 against Rangers, 47 against Bay and now the season’s top score of 146 against St David’s — all in the month of August.
“I can’t knock him for that because in cricket there are highs and low, and obviously Cup Match was a low for him,” Smith said. “But he’s since hit form and has been brutal.
“Even with Rangers [in Western Counties] he scored a century against Willow Cuts two weeks ago. Two weeks ago he scored a century against Rangers and Oronde [Bascome] scored 93, then Oronde had 36 against Bailey’s Bay, so the two of them are just enjoying their cricket and enjoying being in form.
Smith, although he admits he prefers the longer version of the game, gets excited about the possible make-up of the Bermuda later this year based on the form of players this season.
He dropped names such as Chris Douglas, Dion Stovell, Allan Douglas, Oronde Bascome, Alje Richardson, Kamau Leverock, Delray Rawlins and Zeko Burgess, and says “Bermuda has the making of a very powerful team on paper”.
Others enjoying good seasons with the bat are First Division pair Zeri Tomlinson, of Cleveland, and Dominic Sabir, of Warwick, the former just 14.
The openers scored 65 and 83 not out for their respective teams when Warwick beat Cleveland by nine wickets on Sunday to maintain their push for promotion, along with Western Stars who have been boosted this season by the return of Bermuda player Tre Manders.
“The future is looking bright, but I still look forward to the day when we have 50-over cricket so these guys can bat longer,” Smith said.
“That’s what is hampering our longer game, as you saw with Eastern Counties and Cup Match.”