St George’s crowned Athene T20 champions for third season in row
St George’s coach Clay Smith has praised his players after his team won their third consecutive Athene T20 Premier Division title yesterday.
Following an emphatic six-wicket triumph over challengers Bailey’s Bay at Wellington Oval a day earlier, St George’s were confirmed champions after beating relegated Willow Cuts by eight wickets.
After being presented with their trophy, medals and $2,500 in prize money, St George’s took all three of their trophies to Sea Breeze Oval to watch nearest rivals Bay beat Western Stars by five wickets in their final match.
Smith was keen to pay tribute to his squad after they won the title despite losing key players Rodney Trott, Jabari Darrell, Isaiah Greaves, Detroy Smith, Allan Douglas Jr and Treadwell Gibbons Jr before the start of the season.
“I’m extremely proud of the players,’’ Smith said.
“We have lost six quality players this year who went on to play for other teams, so to be able to still come back and win this trophy for a third time is an exceptional feat for our players. Everybody has chipped in and done a remarkable job.”
While keen to emphasise his squad, Smith was keen to highlight one player in particular.
“From the bowling aspect, Shakai Darrell is the best man in the country,” Smith said.
“He’s bowled every game and him and Zeko Burgess have got us off to a very good start in the powerplay.
“To be a spinner and bowl four overs and get hit for more than 20 just once the whole year is remarkable bowling from a person who’s not even recognised throughout the island as a bowler, so I take my hat off to him.
“I take my hat off to every single player that played a part. We have a complete team and I applaud my team for the effort over the last weekend. This is probably the most special one out of all three.
“It just shows the team camaraderie and the team unity. It never changed and it just shows that in that all we’re doing as St George’s, we’re building a dynasty.
“We were just one game away from winning the 50-over leagues so that goes to show the strength of the team. These guys are one big family.”
St George’s lost the Premier Division 50 Overs title to Bay and Smith believes that if that league had two rounds of fixtures, they would have beaten Gus Logie’s men.
“It brings some sort of satisfaction,’’ said Smith on winning the T20 league.
“Obviously when we started off the season we wanted both and it’s unfortunate we only played one round of 50 overs cricket.
“I truly believe that if it was two rounds, we would have got the better of Bay in the second round but that’s how it is. I just support my players for showing character and coming back.
“Saturday against Bay was a first-class performance, I thought we played tremendously well and we’re deserving champions.”
Captain Onias Bascome, who scored an unbeaten 50 against Cuts and reached his half-century with a six to end the game, put his team’s success down to the tenacity displayed throughout the campaign.
“It feels good and it was something that we looked forward to doing this season,’’ Bascome said.
“We worked hard to achieve this and we reached our goals when it came to the T20. We always wanted to win the 50 overs as well and it came down to a fine margin.
“Next year we push for another T20 trophy and hopefully we get the 50 overs as well.”
Burgess, whose unbeaten 67 off 33 balls took St George’s over the line against Bay, has grown in confidence with his batting and is looking to take that form into the national side in an important couple of weeks.
“It’s been a good season for us in terms of the T20,’’ Burgess said.
“I feel good heading into the tournament with Bermuda. As usual, we got the job done and I think we thoroughly deserved it.
“I always go into every game with the same mentality, it also comes with the initiative to take for myself. I’m definitely going to take every chance I can in order to get the team to the World Cup.”
Nzari Paynter, the leading wicket-taker for St George’s with 19 this season has been part of the St George’s team since 2012 and the departure of the six players has presented the 23-year-old with an opportunity to assume more responsibility.
“It feels amazing and I’m grateful to be able to take as many wickets as I did,’’ Paynter said.
“This season we lost quite a few players, so I had to step up, take on a bigger role and I’m just grateful that I was able to do that and perform for the team.
“In T20, the batsmen have to take more risks with the shots that they play, It’s less overs so they have to take more risk. In taking more risk, they create chances when I bowl and then obviously the team has to take those chances.”
Off-spin bowler Darrell is one of the more vocal member of the St George’s side, but despite Smith’s words of praise he is happy to still be playing club cricket.
“I feel like I’ve got some of the best players on the island in my team,’’ Darrell said.
“My skipper is one of the best batsman and we've got one of the best wicketkeepers on the island.
“We back ourselves. When I've got the ball in my hand, I could do whatever I want. I back myself against pretty much anybody. I open the bowling, I prefer to bowl when the better batsmen come in, but I just do a job for my team.
“I’ve gone past dreaming of playing for Bermuda, I just know what I could do and backing up what I said I’m going to do.”
†RS Burrows b Paynter 30
*A Darrell st S Smith b J Smith 5
S Bean c S Smith b Darrell 1
C Basden b J Smith 6
M Simons b Paynter 2
H Bascome c Smith b Paynter 8
W Symonds b McAninly 4
J Spencer c Darrell b McAninly 4
K Brangman not out 1
K Fishenden b McAninly 0
M Rawlins st Smith b McAninly 0
Extras (b 1, lb 2) 3
Total (14 overs) 64
Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-37, 3-43, 4-45, 5-45, 6-53, 7-61, 8-64, 9-69.
Bowling: Burgess 2-0-9-0; Darrell 4-0-22-1; Smith 3-1-12-2; Paynter 3-0-11-3; McAninly 2-0-9-4.
*Onias Bascome not out 50
C Trott c Darrell b Simons 11
B Swainson b Bean 1
J Smith not out 0
Extras (nb 2, w 2) 4
Total (2 wkts, 6.1 overs) 66
M Simmons, Oronde Bascome, S Smith, S Darrell, J McAninly, N Paynter and Z Burgess did not bat
Fall of wickets: 1-39, 2-45.
Bowling: Darrell 2-0-29-0; Simons 2-0-12-1; Bean 1.1-0-10-1; Basden 1-0-15-0
Umpires: A Knight and C Brangman
Match referee: W Woodley