May 022013

BRISTOL West Indians and Phoenix West Indians have merged to form a new club that hopes in time to rise to the upper echelons of club cricket in the city.

An amalgamation was first mooted some 20 years ago between BWI, who were formed in 1963, and PWI (1966) before discussions over the winter moved into a higher gear.

Carl Gilling, the new club’s vice-chairman, said: “We were both struggling for numbers. We sat down together and looked at the situation, set up a committee with (Bristol & District League chairman) Trevor Crouch liaising between the two clubs, and things evolved from there.”

Bristol West Indians and Phoenix’s first and second teams will this season play home games in the Bristol & North Somerset division of the West of England Premier League at Gordon Road.

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A third XI, based at PWI’s former home on Kellaway Avenue, will compete in the Bristol & District Second XI competition with under-11s, under-13s, two under-15s and an under-17s moving between the two grounds.

New chairman Web Matthews said: “Our numbers so far have been very encouraging and there’s a good balance between the two clubs.

“It’s a great advantage to have two grounds but, of course, the overheads are high and that’s something we’re looking at. We’re encouraging a lot of fund-raising and trying also to attract some new players from the local community.”

It promises to be a busy season on and off the field with a long list of events planned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of BWI’s founding. Details of a cricket week in July are being finalised while efforts are being made to track down as many founder members as possible to attend a dinner-dance on June 15.

League results, though, will define the success of this merger after a testing period of several seasons for the two old clubs which included BWI suffering three relegations after reaching Premier One in the WEPL.

Gilling added: “The aim is to improve in all areas – not just on the playing field – and hopefully get back to Premier One or Two. The players are determined to try and achieve something.”

Zane Bowen will captain the first team with former Gloucestershire batsman James Pearson his second in command. Ricardo Robinson heads up the second XI with Kenroy Stewart leading the thirds.

Matthews added: “The new club got off to a winning note with the under-15s beating Hambrook, and we’re hoping for that to continue for the seniors.”

First up for the club is a home clash tomorrow with Chew Magna.

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