Somerset have every right to stick out their chests
Cup Match has come and gone, and people are still trying to stop me to discuss what transpired at the Wellington Oval last week. It was so embarrassing that I don't even want to discuss it any more. There is no doubt that if St George's have any plans on challenging Somerset in the future, let alone next year, they must consider revamping their programme.
It was evident that Cup Match started on the Monday night before the match for Somerset, when they arrived punctually at the Premier's reception looking very smart in their whites and blazers. The manner in which they dressed gave them a sense of pride and a confident edge over their counterparts, who were dressed more casually in khaki pants and a team shirt.
Looking back at the match, the batting from both teams over the two days of Cup Match was abysmal. Only one player scored a fifty and even he, Terryn Fray, was dropped, which clearly shows players' inability to bat long on what appeared to be a placid batting track. I do not buy into the excuse that Twenty20 is ruining our cricket because batting long is a mindset. First, you have to want to bat long; then you have to plan how you are going to bat long, before actually executing your plan on the day.
Somerset have shown again that Cup Match is played over two days and not just one. Their team unity and experience showed yet again on the second day when it counts most. For some reason, they have a mental edge over St George's, which could take a few years to break if St George's are not careful.
After ending the game before tea on the second day, you can't blame the Somerset folk for being so boastful. Buzzing with confidence, the Somerset president boldly stated at the presentation that next year when Cup Match is held in Somerset, they will threepeat. Some may see this as arrogance or cockiness, but I look at it as confidence and the same confidence that is oozing through the president's veins is oozing through the players' veins. All of Somerset, from the president to the players to the coaching staff, and even their fans, believe they will win again next year. And, after this year's mauling, who is to blame them for thinking so?
My question is, what do St George's intend to do about it? I know when I heard those words from the Somerset president, it made my stomach cringe. The competitive side of me was thinking I would love to come out of retirement just to make him eat his words; that's how much it perturbed me. As he spoke those words, I glared at each St George's player, the coach and the president to see if his message hit them as hard as it hit me.
St George's have a post mortem soon to analyse where they go from here. One club member said after the game: “Surely, it is time to shuffle the deck; out with the old, in with the new”. We will see.
For the past few years, St George's biggest problem is that they do not have a core group of players from which they can build their team around. Are there seven or eight players that St George's can say for the next five years, these are the players that we are going to build our team around?
The amount of changes that have been made by St George's, for the past three years particularly, is abnormal.
St George's have to come up with a three-year plan to dethrone Somerset. Somerset, under captain Jekon Edness and coach Jeff Richardson, are a force to be reckoned with, but they have shown signs of weakness. Therefore, with more creative thinking/planning and execution of game plans, St George's can turn this around quicker than what most people think.
On to the topic of off-the-field matters pertaining to Cup Match, there are two that I wish to address. Surely there must be a more logical way of getting people through the gates at Cup Match.
I understand all the safety aspects, but some people were in line for more than 90 minutes waiting to get in. As the game came to a close, I went by the gate and one fan was beyond upset. She arrived at Wellington Oval at approximately 2.45pm and at 4.15pm when the game ended, she was still not yet inside the grounds.
With the massive amount of people attending the game, especially on the second day, surely some alternative measure can be put in place to speed up this process, while still keeping people's safety in mind.
On a slightly different note, the talk about former Cup Match players paying to go through the gates resurfaced when yours truly was lined up at the gate, waiting to pay to come into this year's Cup Match classic. I could see people staring in disbelief until one person openly asked me if I was paying to get into the match.
Jokingly, the person said: “But you were part of the coaching staff last year, and you have played Cup Match seems like for ever, and you hold several records in Cup Match. And isn't your picture up as one of the legends. Surely, this can't be right.”
Several years ago, this subject came up and it is a very sensitive subject. Should there be some exception made, or measures implemented for past Cup Match players with extensive careers, not to have to pay at the gate? I refer to such stalwarts as Eldon Raynor (1958-1979), who happened to pay for admission this year, Noel Gibbons (1971-1993), Arnold Manders (1979–1999) and others such as Lloyd James.
Lastly, while Somerset's president is confident of a home victory next year, I want to make one thing very clear. I can promise all Somerset supporters that it will not take St George's 34 years to beat you in Somerset, as we have proven time and time again that we can beat you in your own backyard.
Quote of the week: Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results — Albert Einstein