Western Stars coach Arnold Manders believes the lack of loyalty among players is hurting clubs trying to develop their cricket programmes.
Manders was hoping this season would see Stars building on what they accomplished last year, but survival is now their priority after three key players departed their ranks recently.
Tre Manders, the coach’s nephew, has joined Southampton Rangers, Dalin Richardson is now with Somerset, while Brian Hall has moved to St David’s, leaving the Central Counties champions struggling to find sufficient players. There was talk that Stars may pull out of the Open League, which starts next weekend, but Manders says that is not the case.
“We’ll play but we probably don’t have enough players who can play for the whole season,” the former captain said. “We’re looking at trying to get some more players.”
Manders, now in his late 50s, has not ruled out playing to make up the numbers, while his younger brother Andre will play some early games for Stars if they need him.
“I may have to play and forfeit my Evening League for a year to help sort out the club,” Arnold Manders revealed. “I played for the Evening League two years ago, me and Nyon Steede who played for another team, but we didn’t play for Stars until after the Evening League finished.
“If you play in the Evening League and leave to play in the BCB league, that [Evening League] team lose their points.”
Last year Manders was critical of the BCB’s late transfer policy, which enabled Treadwell Gibbons and Temiko Wilson to transfer to Cleveland after playing some early games for Stars. Now players have departed from the outset, leaving the club wondering if they will be competitive this season.
Gibbons and Wilson have now left Cleveland to join promoted side St George’s.
“The frustrating part is most of these players have come up through our ranks and for different reasons have moved on, whether to play in the Eastern Counties or whatever,” Manders said. “That’s something in my era that wasn’t even thought of. I wasn’t leaving Stars just for that. I once was a guest player for Somerset Bridge [Western Counties] but that was the only team I ever played for outside of Stars and St George’s in Cup Match. I had plenty of opportunities where I could have, for monetary rewards, but I didn’t.”
Already Southampton Rangers look like being the team to beat after picking up eight players, all able to add something to the team. St David’s, the champions, and Bailey’s Bay will probably be their main challengers, all three teams looking like finishing in the top three again.
“That’s the problem with cricket now, Rangers have stacked up and almost all the good players are on one team, so how are the other teams going to be competitive when almost everyone else is weaker?” Manders said. “When we were playing, if a team didn’t have their A game they would lose. There wasn’t a game in the Super Eight where you could rest. Now guys are not loyal to their clubs and jumping all over the place.
“In the last couple of years St David’s have had most of the national squad players, but what good is that to cricket with one strong team? Bailey’s Bay seem to be the only team that don’t lose a lot of players.
“When I lost players last year, Irving [coach Romaine] said ‘you can take some of mine’ because he had so many of them [at Bay]. But the guys I approached said ‘I’m not playing for anybody but Bay, if I can’t play for Bay I’m not playing any cricket’.”
Stars will play Somerset in their first Open League match next weekend while Rangers will have four players away on tour with the Bermuda team for their first match against St George’s. Eastern Counties rivals St David’s and Bailey’s Bay will meet in the top match at St David’s.
Things were looking up for Stars last season when Tre Manders, Jacobi Robinson and Jekon Edness rejoined the team they played for as juniors.
“Last year we finished in fourth place after we lost our last couple of games when playing with nine men, though we still pushed teams,” Manders said.
“I felt this year with the same team and a few additions, even with Rangers being the way they are, that we could push them when at full strength.
“We could have pushed for the title, now the objective is just to stay up. Now we’re going backwards, but we’ll work with what we have.”