Cup Match champions Somerset gunning for hat-trick of wins
Somerset coach Jeff Richardson says his team is “chomping at the bit” as they attempt to record a hat-trick of victories at this year’s Cup Match.
The west enders have maintained a stranglehold on the prized trophy since reclaiming it from rivals St George’s in 2012 and have stamped their authority with emphatic ten-wicket victories both at home and away over the past two years.
“It does have a certain ring to it,” Richardson said of the possibility of a third successive victory.
“We are on a hat-trick of victories and hopefully that will come to fruition. We are going to do our best to try to win the match, which is always our approach.
“The vibe is pretty good, the enthusiasm is high and we are looking forward to it. The guys are chomping at the bit at the moment.”
Somerset have achieved three or more consecutive victories on three occasions, the last between 1939 and 1942, while St George’s have also achieved three or more successive victories on three occasions, the last being between 1964 and 1969. Both clubs share the record for most consecutive wins, which stands at six.
When asked to go out on a limb and offer a prediction, Richardson said: “I don’t predict anything other than the cup will be going back to Somerset.
“I am confident to know that we are strong enough and good enough to at least retain the trophy.”
Somerset are up against a St George’s side that has made four changes from last year’s team, with Richardson assessing the impact they might have on the match.
“There’s a bunch of new faces in there but I see what St George’s are trying to do,” Richardson added.
“It looks like they are starting to rebuild and I am not too sure how much or what their expectations are of them.
“I think it’s a good sign that St George’s are moving in the right direction and, from where I stand, we are going to treat them as we normally do; go out there and try to better them on the field over the two days.”
Among the new faces in the challengers’ team this year is star all-rounder and Bermuda captain Delray Rawlins,.
The former English county player comes with talent and experience, which St George’s will heavily rely upon in their bid to put an end to Somerset’s dominance.
Richardson is well aware of the potential threat Rawlins poses to his team’s plans but is confident they can deal with it.
“We are not intimidated by Delray in the least bit,” he said. “Obviously it is something we are going to prepare for, and we will prepare. We have had our discussions and we will put a plan together to deal with Delray.
“That’s a lot of weight on his shoulders and let’s see if he up to the task.”
St George’s have added incentive as they are playing in honour of Osagi Bascome, Freddy Hall, Travis Smith, Landro Minors and Fiqre Crockwell, something Richardson said his team is also ready for.
“We have discussed this among ourselves because this is something that happens every year,” he added.
“We had the same thing last year of rallying for someone who passed, and the year before, that and these are things that teams use to motivate themselves, to big themselves up, but whether it works or not we’ll see on Thursday and Friday.”
Somerset have also made changes to their team with Bailey’s Bay seamer Macquille Walker coming in as a colt and Cleveland County wicketkeeper Steven Bremar Jr recalled after being dropped last year.
“I am very impressed with Macquille,” Richardson said. “He is strong, he’s young and he runs in on every ball.
“He can bowl multiple spells and he’s a wicket-taking bowler, so I am pleased with his selection.
“Steven we felt was the best wicketkeeper at the Cup Match trial. He looked pretty good with the bat as well and another issue was about his fitness.
“Two days of cricket is a long time for wicketkeepers who are involved in every ball during an innings, so we need to have someone who is physically fit that can last two days, and that played a major role in the selection.”
Richardson said identifying players who are mentally tough to stand up to the rigours of defending the trophy on the road also played a factor in team selection.
“We need to have some characters in our team going into the opponent’s home ground,” he said.
“Sometimes you need some players that have a bit of tenacity about themselves, so that plays a part in the team and I am pleased with the overall selection.
“I think it was the right selection, based on where we are and what we are expecting over the two days of Cup Match, and this team can be equal to the task.
“We have had to replace individuals and haven’t skipped a beat recently, and I think this falls on the same lines.
“We have brought in two individuals who are quite capable of helping us maintain the standard or even take it up a notch higher.”