Southampton Rangers await first genuine Western Counties test
Holders Southampton Rangers will be looking to continue their dominance in the Western Counties when they host challengers Warwick in the penultimate round of the series at Southampton Oval today.
Janeiro Tucker’s team cruised though the previous two rounds without breaking a sweat.
They began their title defence with a seven-wicket win over Somerset Bridge which was followed up with an even more convincing nine-wicket win over PHC.
The champions have yet to announce their squad, which also already boasts the likes of captain Dalin Richardson and fellow all-rounder Dion Stovell, who is fresh off a man-of-the-match display that guided Somerset to a ten-wicket win over St George’s at Cup Match last week.
Stovell claimed match figures of six for 101 with his off spin and thumped a maiden hundred (111 not out).
Asked for his general thoughts heading into the 50-overs match, Rangers player-coach Tucker said: “We are just looking to play in the moment and play positive cricket.”
Rangers are without all-rounder Charles Trott, who is representing Bermuda at the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B in Jersey.
Warwick have been bolstered by guest players Brian Hall and Seth Campbell, and are under no illusions as to the daunting task at hand.
“We realise it is going to be a tall order,” Lorenzo Tucker, the Warwick coach, said. “Rangers have been pretty dominant the first two rounds.
“But we have had a good season in the league and on the day anything can happen.
“We are just going to play our best cricket and see what happens after that.”
Warwick are without seamer Jamar Stovel, who is also away with the national team.
Meanwhile, 50-overs league action resumes tomorrow from a two-week hiatus.
Much of the hype centres around the final round of Premier Division, which will determine the league champions.
Leaders St David’s hold a four-point advantage over Bailey’s Bay with third-placed St George’s a further 12 points adrift.
St David’s host Somerset at Lord’s, St George’s welcome Southampton to Wellington Oval while Willow Cuts will do battle with Bailey’s Bay at Somerset Cricket Club.
“If we win, we win the league, and everybody is up for the game,” Ricky Brangman, the St David’s coach, said.
The remaining team to be relegated from the top flight will also be determined.
Bottom side Somerset have already taken the plunge with West End rivals Willow Cuts one place above them in the standings, seven points behind Rangers.
St George’s or Southampton will go down if Cuts can upset Bay.
There is also plenty at stake in the second tier with Cleveland, Flatts and Warwick keen to secure the sole remaining two promotion spots up for grabs.
Warwick will host Cleveland at Southampton Oval while Western Stars will face Flatts at Sea Breeze Oval in the final round of the First Division play-off.
“A very big weekend for Warwick,” Tucker said. “We have counties on Saturday and then our promotion match with Cleveland on Sunday with the winner being promoted.
“We got promoted last year to the Premier T20 league, so our cricket is definitely going in the right direction.
“I am looking forward to the battles over the weekend, especially Sunday.
“Cleveland will be very tough to beat. They seem to have our number, so we know it’s going to the end.
“They fight to the end, so it’s going to be a really good match and the winner will get rewarded.”
“We have had some good training this week in the build up and the guys are ready to acquit themselves.”
∎ The Bermuda Cricket Board has confirmed that Jerez Eve, of Somerset, has been banned from all cricket for five matches for breach of the Code of Conduct.
The wicketkeeper-batter hotly disputed a leg-before decision in the Premier Division 50 Overs League match against Bailey’s Bay at Sea Breeze Oval on July 17 and continued his remonstrations from the changing room.
A BCB disciplinary made its ruling on Monday, meaning Eve will miss the final 50-overs league match against St David’s as well as the first four matches of the Athene T20 league.
He is eligible to return on September 4.