Coach Courtney Trott leads Cleveland’s late promotion push by example
Inspired by what St George’s did in the Premier Division title race, Cleveland are hoping a late run of wins can propel them to promotion in the Twenty20 First Division.
Cleveland moved level on points with former leaders Warwick after beating them in a crucial make-up match on Saturday, and then winning again on Sunday against Devonshire Rec, while Warwick lost to Flatts.
Now it has come down to three teams battling for two promotion spots with three games remaining. Stars, who have played one game less, will meet Warwick in another big game on Saturday at Devonshire Rec.
Courtney Trott, the Cleveland coach, was forced out of retirement last weekend because of a shortage of players, lending his experience with an important knock of 32 against Warwick as Makai Young captained them to two victories.
“We had a player [Zeri Tomlinson] go back to school, another was unfortunately in a bike accident and yet another was sick, so that’s why I had to play in the two games,” Trott explained.
He says he will be happy to guide the team from the sidelines if players are available for Sunday’s match against Flatts, their Eastern Counties rivals.
“As I was telling the players, I haven’t played ‘real cricket’ since 2014, just some Evening League games which I don’t see as real cricket,” he stated.
“That was the year we won county, when Jason Anderson and I opened the batting in that whole series.”
Trott found himself having to borrow gear to play on the weekend. “I didn’t have any gear, the only piece of gear I still have is a ‘trust’,” the 48-year-old said.
“Everything else I gave away, including a bat to my son and gear over the year to players who needed different things. I even gave away my spikes a couple of years ago to one of our bowlers who needed some spikes.”
Trott came in to bat at No 5 after the three batsmen dismissed before him all failed to reach double figures. He and opener Q’Shai Darrell put on 77 for the fourth wicket, Trott scoring 32 from 29 balls before Darrell won the match with a six off the last ball, which also brought up his fifty in a revised run chase forced by a rain stoppage.
“It was easy for me to come out as early as I did and still face the seam bowlers to allow myself to get into the game,” Trott explained. “I just tried to keep it simple, as I tell my players, look to get off strike and get the other player back on strike.
“Against Warwick we needed 13 off the last over and in my mind I was just trying to get Shai back on strike because I knew he could hit boundaries at the end.“
Cleveland have it all to play for as the promotion race enters the last few games. “I shouldn’t have to play on Sunday because some of the players will be back,” he said.
“We should have a full-strength team and I have every confidence they will put in a significant effort and do what is needed to help us win the match.
Like Warwick, they also have to play Stars, a match scheduled next weekend when they will also play Somerset Bridge.
“One match at a time and go from there,” he has urged his players. “The team knows that if we do win our three games we will most likely be the league champions, as we still have to play Stars.
“[Warwick against Stars] means somebody is going to drop points and if we beat Flatts and Stars beat Warwick we’ll be ten points clear of Warwick. If Warwick manages to beat Stars and we beat Flatts, everybody will be tied, so it will make it very interesting going into that last weekend.”
Cleveland and Warwick have 6-3 records while Western Stars have won seven of their eight games.
“We lost our first game against PHC and then started to get a nice run going before losing to Warwick the week before we beat them,” Trott added.
“We knew we had to beat them to have any chance of staying in the promotion hunt.”