It may have been a struggle, but Western Stars have achieved their primary objective of survival in their first season back in local cricket’s top tier.
Stars finished fourth in the six-team One Premier Division during coach Arnold Manders’ first season back at the helm.
“That was the goal, to stay up,” Manders, the former Stars captain, said. “It has been a struggle and we have a little more work to do to be competitive against the rest.
“We need to strengthen the squad and get them out training more and understanding their roles and stuff like that.
“We haven’t played to our full potential but we have been able to compete in every game where, with a little change in the batting or bowling, we could’ve won, which has been encouraging.
“I have been encouraged but it has also been a little frustrating because I don’t think they really understand that in order to improve you have to train and put the work in. They just have to understand the process of you have to train, you have to practise your skills and need to know what to do in certain situations.
“If you are a batsman you need to hit more balls than most people and if you are a bowler you need to bowl more and understand what to bowl in different situations and know your field placings.
“That’s where we are right now and once they get onto that and understand all of that we will be a lot more competitive.”
Stars also achieved their other objective of defending their Central Counties title to qualify for the Champion of Champions competition, slated September 23 and 24.
“Retaining the Central Counties was another goal and we are in the Champion of Champions final while Bailey’s Bay and Southampton Rangers play in the semi-final,” Manders said.
Stars will have added incentive to put their best foot forward in the Champion of Champions as this year’s competition, featuring the winners of the Eastern, Western and Central Counties, will take place at their St John’s Field home venue.
Stars lost their final league game of the season at the weekend against Cleveland, who, despite the victory, were relegated after failing to secure enough bonus points to close the 13-point gap on second from the bottom Somerset.
The result left Somerset to battle with Flatts, of the First Division, in the play-off match on Sunday to decide which team will play in the top division next season.
Somerset did not play their final match at home against Southampton Rangers after both teams turned up short.
St George’s clinched the automatic promotion spot with a resounding 179-run victory over PHC at Wellington Oval on September 4.