Losing Cup Match is every captain’s worst nightmare
Cup Match is a game that brings out the best in some players. However, there are some that have not had the best experiences, and if I dare to say the magnitude of Cup Match causes some players to retreat into a shell, humbling the best of players.
This week I want to share with you some of the highs and lows of Cup Match during my era.
Let’s first recognise that to be selected for Cup Match is a great honour, especially when you consider the fact that many good players never played in the Cup Match Classic.
To step onto that electrifying field come that Thursday morning is an experience that you can never forget, and that feeling is the same each time you have the privilege to represent your team.
Every player wants to be a part of the game, but unfortunately only 11 can play. Looking back on my career some of the best of players have missed out on Cup Match, and I have seen grown men cry because they were not selected, thus showing the passion of wanting to play in the prestigious classic.
Speaking from a St.George's point of view, names like Clevie Wade, Charlie Marshall, Clay Smith, Arnold Manders, Glen Blakeney, and Allen Richardson have all been dropped.
Speaking from experience, it is not a nice feeling being left out of the Classic, but regardless of how hurt you may be, you must get behind your team and support them.
Once on the field it is show time. Players want to perform to the best of their ability during this time. If there is one day the fans will remember it is Cup Match.
They will remember the good, the bad, and the ugly. Looking back over the 20 years that I was a player in Cup Match I have seen the stress of the game break many men down.
Chain smoking, pacing the floor of the changing room, even taking a shot of brandy were all tactics used to calm the nerves of some.
Hard to believe unless you have seen it with your own eyes as what is projected on the field is a confident batsman or bowler doing what they do best.
I recall sitting and watching from the stands as I was dropped in 1988, and watching Charlie Marshall and Noel Gibbons getting double ducks in the same game.
I sat there amazed, dumbfounded that these two great batsmen could both get double ducks in the same game.
As I sat there stunned I recall saying to myself that would never ever happen to me, no way. However, low and behold a few years later I would be in that same boat.
Having been out for nought in the first innings all I could think about was how to avoid another duck. I will not join the Double Duck Club, I kept saying to myself. However, I joined them quickly after being trapped LBW for nought.
Yes, I too joined the Double Duck Club and I just remember wishing there was a hole I could dig from the wicket to the clubhouse.
One thing I learned from that experience was to be careful of what you feed your mind. If you constantly feed yourself negative thoughts you are more than likely going to have a negative outcome.
My lowest of lows was experiencing losing Cup Match in my first year as captain for St.George’s in 1996.
However, I’m glad I went through that experience because in the end I think it made me a better, more determined captain.
Losing in Somerset I just remember the tears flowing from all of the players’ faces and I took it personally. Normally when a team loses you lose as a team, but no, I took this personally like I had let my team, and my whole community down.
I can tell you first hand, losing Cup Match is the worst feeling ever, especially when you are the champions.
As a player I couldn’t wait for the next year to hurry up and come. Every single day of the year my mind was engulfed in the ideas of what I could do to win the cup back and bring it back home.
This brings about one of the highs for me as a player, which was the following year in St.George’s. Having endured the wrath of the fans for the loss the previous year, I was ready to make amends and so was the team.
The wicket was made for pace at one end and spin at the other, and the plan worked to perfection as we bowled Somerset out cheaply the second innings. We only had to score 150 odd to win. As I sat praying before I went in to bat I had so many flashbacks running through my head. Before I knew it Somerset had us struggling, we were 15 for 2 wickets, and I was about to walk to the wicket.
My brother Wendell could see that I was a bit flustered and he leaned over and said to me, “Now is your chance to redeem yourself, do not come back until it is over”. So said so done! Glen and I had put on a record 140 run partnership and we had regained the Cup Match trophy.
The feeling of jubilation was incredible. There was a sea of blue and blue on the field at Wellington Oval. This was a moment in life that I will never forget and will cherish forever.
Another memorable moment was witnessing Janeiro Tucker’s 186, when he broke Lloyd James’ batting record.
This was the classiest innings by any batsman ever in Cup Match. Everything we tried didn’t work. Janeiro was in the form of his life. I remember when he reached the 150 milestone I went to congratulate him and I told him, “You have come this far, go and get the record”.
Truthfully speaking, I wanted to get Janeiro out before he broke the record because it meant a great deal to have a St.Georgian holding that prestigious record. However, good batting is good batting and Janeiro’s accomplishment made a great statement for cricket followers.
People are always talking about the cricketers of the past being the best, but Janeiro showed that today’s modern day game also has great cricketers.
Fans of Bermuda, I kid you not when I say Cup Match is and will always be our biggest sporting event of the year. Many good players have come and gone over the years and left behind many memories.
I encourage the players of today to go out there on tomorrow and Friday and make a name for yourself, put your name in the record books and prove to Bermuda that we still do have some talented cricketers around.
Cricket may be going through its highs and lows, but Cup Match will always bring the best out of the players. “St.George’s Boys Forever”.
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