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Somerset Bridge pumped up to open Western Counties defence

Hopes are high: Chris Douglas (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Chris Douglas is set to rejoin PHC in their bid to dethrone holders Somerset Bridge in the opening round of the Western Counties competition at White Hill Field today.

The experienced all-rounder is back in the fold after serving a four-game suspension for showing serious dissent at an umpire’s decision during PHC’s 133-run defeat by Devonshire Rec on June 2.

Douglas’s return has bolstered the challengers’ squad comprising all league players who are pumped up for the big occasion.

“Hopes are high and it’s a chance to have bragging rights in the west, so everybody is geared up and psyched up to get back in the competition with our best foot forward and looking to do good,” PHC coach Cal Waldron told The Royal Gazette.

PHC hold a psychological advantage heading into the match having defeated Bridge by 103 runs in the first meeting between the two teams in a First Division 50 overs contest at PHC Field in May.

Despite having gotten the better of their rivals on that occasion, Waldron isn’t taking anything for granted against the home team.

“We beat them earlier in the season but Western Counties is a different animal, so expect a different type of mentality between players and competition between teams,” he added.

Bolstered by the additions of star all-rounders Kamau Leverock and Allan Douglas Jr, then challengers Bridge dethroned holders Willow Cuts in the final round at White Hill Field last summer.

It was second time the trophy swapped hands in as many rounds, as Warwick dethroned Southampton Rangers in the opening round.

Elsewhere today, Devonshire Rec and North Village will do battle for the vacant Central Counties trophy at Devonshire Rec.

Holders Western Stars have opted not to defend their title this year owing to organisational issues which they believe are detrimental to the integrity of the tournament and are not the only team to have pulled out of this year’s competition, with Tuff Dogs also citing inadequate facilities among their reasons for taking no part.

Evening League outfit Tuff Dogs felt hard done by last year after their Central Counties second-round match against Stars at Devonshire Rec was abandoned without a ball being bowled after the ground was deemed unfit for play.

Dennis Williams, of the Central Counties Cricket Association, hit back at the criticism handed out to the organisation by the two clubs and said it is “unfortunate” they have withdrawn rather than helping to enhance the competition.

Also taking place today is St George’s Cup Match trial match against Cleveland at Wellington Oval.

Meanwhile, action continues tomorrow with Somerset hosting St George’s at Somerset Cricket Club in an intriguing Premier Division 50 overs match-up.

The visitors remain in contention for league honours and will be favoured to come away victorious but cannot afford to take their opponents lightly, having handed St David’s their first loss of the season and also beaten champions Bailey’s Bay.

Remaining top-flight matches pit Cleveland against Eastern Counties rivals St David’s at Wellington Oval while Bailey’s Bay host Willow Cuts at Sea Breeze Oval.

Cleveland are coming off a big win over Western Stars while St David’s hope to bounce back after suffering their second defeat of the season against St George’s in their previous outing.

In the First Division, Warwick will do battle with fellow promotion contenders Flatts at Southampton Oval while PHC host Devonshire Rec at PHC Field in another contest which will also have a say in the battle for the two promotion spots up for grabs.

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Published July 06, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated July 06, 2024 at 8:11 pm)

Somerset Bridge pumped up to open Western Counties defence

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