St George’s Cricket Club are destined to have a new Cup Match captain this year after Macai Simmons left the club on the eve of the new season.
Simmons had been a regular fixture at pre-season training under new coach Wendell Smith, and was one of three officially interested in captaining the Cup Match team at Wellington Oval on August 1 and 2 — the others believed to be 2018 century hero Onias Bascome and Rodney Trott, of Bailey’s Bay — but the club were rocked this weekend by news that the 29-year-old moved suddenly to crosstown rivals St David’s in the past 48 hours.
Simmons’s departure was confirmed when his name was not included in a scratch team minus several regulars that took the field yesterday at Wellington Oval for an uplifting 90-run win over promoted Cleveland County.
Oronde Bascome, the former captain, has stepped up as acting captain in the interim and immediately led by example with a match-winning 126 runs.
Simmons, who captained Cup Match the past two years, including a crushing innings defeat in Somerset in 2018, had come under pressure not only to be retained as captain but also to keep his place. But he is well respected by his peers and the club were hopeful that the full-time appointment of Smith as coach would assist in his development.
Simmons’s shock departure continues a pattern of St George’s captains jumping ship after an unsuccessful Cup Match — although none ever occurred this late in the piece — including in the modern era Oronde Bascome, to Southampton Rangers, and Clay Smith, to St David’s.
Neither was selected for Cup Match the ensuing season, and unless Simmons returns an exceptionally explosive year with St David’s, he will likely go the same way.
Meanwhile, St George’s have decisions to make about their leadership. Onias Bascome is among several players who are abroad and who will not be available until next month. He is said to have had communications with Simmons with a view to talking him off the ledge, but his now former captain stuck by his guns and made the jump across the harbour.
Club president Neil Paynter reacted in a serene state of resignation to developments. “It is unfortunate what has happened and we just have to move on,” he said.
Wendell Smith was not available for comment.