A memorable season for all the wrong reasons
As we come to the end of a long and strenuous season I cannot help but reflect on some of the things that have happened over the past few months.
Although there have been some positives, the negatives have been exceedingly detrimental to cricket on the Island.
Southampton Rangers continued their domination of the Belco Cup by winning it yet again. Even though it was a closely contested final, Rangers’ dominance in this competition showed even against a very strong St David’s side.
That victory started murmurs around the Island, with people wondering if St David’s could not stop Rangers, then who could?
No one, as it turned out.
Team after team tried, and failed, to beat Rangers. Some came extremely close, but Rangers remained undefeated until the last game of the season when they ran into Cleveland County. Even after this defeat, Rangers still easily dethroned former champions St David’s.
The Islanders had been attempting to win the league title for a third time in a row. However, St David’s never really mounted a true defence of their title, and the loss of coach Wendell Smith proved an obstacle they could not overcome. Smith took his not inconsiderable talents to St John’s Field, and Western Stars swept all before them over the course of the season.
Their only competition for promotion were Devonshire Recreation Club, but Devonshire could not beat their rivals and fell short on the occasions that mattered. With Smith at the helm, Stars developed a winning mentality and went the season undefeated in the league and the Twenty20 competition.
Their only loss came in the Champion of Champions semi-final against Willow Cuts, who had bolstered their team with two guest players.
The way the schedule was set up there wasn’t much league cricket played before Cup Match, and this meant there was a lot to be played after annual classic, which did not bode well for some clubs.
There were several games, probably more than any other season that I can recall, that were not played for various reasons. This is something that definitely has to be looked at for next season, as this simply cannot be happening, for it devalues the quality of the league.
This season’s Eastern Counties competition was unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.
The series was scarred by the controversy between Cleveland and Bailey’s Bay.
Many thought that Cleveland’s victory last season against St David’s was a fluke, but they have managed to go through all three rounds unscathed, proving to be worthy champions.
It was not just the Eastern Counties that had issues, however, as Western Counties had theirs also.
Rangers, the champions, refused to take the field as they felt Cuts fielded ineligible players. This meant Cuts were crowned as Western County champions.
Then came the disappointment that was Cup Match. A game that is supposed to be the highlight of season not only finished early, but was also completely one-sided. Somerset won convincingly, and St George’s have to find a new formula if they are to dethrone them.
As the season came to a close, it seemed as if no umpires were showing up, or teams were short of players, and games were not played, which hindered some teams tremendously.
Our national sport is crying out for professionalism from all angles. We definitely have to have a postmortem, with captains, umpires, coaches and the Bermuda Cricket Board all getting together to see what the best way forward is, so some of the troubles we had this season are rectified.
The Counties came together to bring back the Champion of Champions, which to many was a brilliant idea. What was supposed to be an enjoyable day out to watch the finals between Cleveland and Cuts, turned into a calamity.
The ugly scene which scarred the final has now been seen worldwide, and we have a lot of work to do if we are to regain our credibility as a cricketing nation. Still, there was time for some more strange on-field antics, with Rangers deliberately dropping catches in their T20 final against Bay, a tactic that came back to haunt them.
Overall, this season was very disappointing. The BCB and the clubs have their work cut out to get our cricket back on track. It will need a collective effort, but with the right focus and determination anything is possible.