OJ Pitcher sets sights on Cup Match recall
OJ Pitcher hopes his match-winning knock of 84 not out against Bailey’s Bay on Sunday is a sign of better things to come after two injury-hit seasons in 2020 and 2021.
The St David’s all-rounder guided his team to a seven-wicket victory over their Eastern Counties rivals after sharing in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 135 with Ricardo Brangman. Now Pitcher, who turned 39 two days earlier, is hoping to enjoy a first full season since 2019, possibly even including making a claim for a Cup Match recall with St George’s.
Pitcher delighted with some well-struck boundaries on Sunday, hitting 12 fours and a six off 81 balls to hand Gus Logie, his former Bermuda coach in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, his first loss as coach of Bay. He also picked up the last two Bay wickets in the two overs he bowled to dismiss them for 194 in 42.2 overs.
“We had a rough season last year in the Twenty20 league but guys have kicked off the 50 overs on a good note,” Pitcher said. “There is a lot of cricket left to play, but we just have to keep pushing game by game and hopefully we can win the league this year.”
A knee injury cut short Pitcher’s 2020 season, while last year a shoulder injury sustained in a bike crash kept him on the sidelines the entire summer, both helping to renew his appetite for the game. He admits Cup Match is on his mind.
“As long as I’m playing, I’ll be available [for Cup Match],” he said. “I’m not playing just to play.
“I still have a passion and love for the game. As everyone knows, I’ve been out for a while with different injuries. Plus I just had a new addition to the family, a boy, so I’ve got that added drive.
“I’m looking forward to the season. As long as I’m injury-free, I’ll definitely make myself available for all cricket. One game at a time; it’s a long season.
“There are a lot of competitive teams in the league; Rangers, St George’s, who have a very strong team, and Bay, who proved last week against Rangers that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.”
Another member of that 2007 World Cup team, Stephen Outerbridge, returned to the Bay side on Sunday for his first match of the season and hit a top score of 38 off 41 balls with six boundaries. Outerbridge also just turned 39, just a week before Pitcher.
“It’s nice to see Stephen back out, he brings a lot of experience and maturity and was looking good himself,” Pitcher said of his former Bermuda team-mate. “It’s nice to see the positives.
‘I’m not the biggest Twenty20 fan, that’s for the crowd, but as far as developing young players, it’s not good for that. To have 50 overs back in and Twenty20 at the end of the season, it’s nice to see that.“
Pitcher feels there could be a new enthusiasm for Cup Match in the East End this year. “With all that has been taking place in the eastern community, period, with the loss of loved ones, there is a lot of passion right now,” said Pitcher, who last played Cup Match in 2019.
“Don’t be surprised if Cup Match is very interesting this year. Guys are making themselves available and there is something to play for. Definitely looking forward to it.”
Pitcher, who made his debut in 2000 aged 17, has scored 579 runs in Cup Match from 20 innings at an average of 28.95. He has a highest score of 115, achieved in 2014 after twice falling in the nineties in 2006 and 2007 with scores of 98 and 94 — the first of which in Somerset earned him the MVP award.
He is 22nd on the Cup Match aggregate list, and the highest scorer among active players.