Today’s BBL Cup Final will be preceded by an England Select taking on an Ireland Select, and in the squad flying the flag of St. George is Devan Bailey of the in-form Cheshire Phoenix.
Since he signed for the team in November, his tireless efforts have helped the franchise get their season back on track after early changes to the roster.
Now that has paid off and he will get the chance to play in front of a sell-out crowd at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham; such an attendance due to the sheer demand for tickets and the subsequent extra tickets put on sale.
To have an English side take to the court, filled with other young talent such as Sheffield Sharks’ Nick Lewis and Zac Gachette, and Worcester Wolves’ Kalil Irving, whilst also involving some well-known names in the BBL in David Aliu and Mike Tuck, it offers a chance for the best in the country to represent beyond playing for GB.
“It’s a good change and makes people feel that they are getting the opportunities they deserve after putting in a lot of hard work and commitment to the game,” said Bailey before he left for Birmingham.
“It’s good to have such a strong crowd,” Bailey went on to say, which is believed to be around the 9,000-mark. “We’ve all seen the turnouts for football, rugby, cricket and even at times netball gets a lot of recognition, this I believe is a good starting point for the English national teams.”
Although it is not the main event of the day, the chance for youngsters to see professionals in the game can hopefully carry on the hard work at developing the talent pool, and the overall interest in the sport, but Bailey feels a lot of key elements are in place, and now the push is on to bring through British players in the BBL and get minutes akin to what he is right now
“I think no matter what there will be a lot of development for players and when it comes to moving up.
“I started off with Mersey when they had little money and pushed to improve my game, a lot of players have a chance in teams that want to play more Brits which is always good to have, as these teams often keep a strong fan base because of it.”
At Cheshire Phoenix, Bailey is the predominant British star on the roster, but with the recent history of the franchise, now a community interest club, the selection to this side will do nothing but good in their promotion in the local area, combined with their recent run of form.
“It feels good having won as many as we have,” said Bailey, “It feels better knowing it isn’t a fluke and that we are, all in all, one of the best teams in the country.
“I think it’s good for them, as the franchise had Steven Gayle in the past who has played with England and it would be nice to solidify my starting role as I become a bigger part of the team.”