Early success has Rawlins thinking big
A few years ago Delray Rawlins was a typical young Bermudian cricketer, dreaming of playing in Cup Match and representing his country.
In fact in 2007 he was captured in a photograph in The Royal Gazette playing for St George’s in the Mini Cup Match at Devonshire Recreation Club. Since then Rawlins has ticked several boxes; Bermuda debut at 15, Cup Match debut at 16, Bermuda Under-19 captain.
Now his dreams have grown bigger, such as playing English county cricket and ultimately one day playing for England.
Last month he signed a one-year professional contract with Sussex and has also been chosen to be part of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s Young Lions training camp to Dubai.
It could lead to selection to the Lions tour to India in January.
Rawlins, who returned home two days ago for a short break, reflected on an exciting summer, before looking ahead to a winter training programme and then trying to break through at Sussex next summer.
“I’m very excited to have the security of the one year contract, it’s something I’ve worked towards for a couple of years now,” the 19-year-old said yesterday during a visit to the National Stadium.
“Now I hope to show that I’m good enough to be a full-time pro cricketer, it’s really an exciting opportunity for me.
“It’s a junior pro contract so most likely I’ll start in the second team next year, but definitely it’s something to build on as I try to play in the first team.”
Rawlins, who has finished his schooling at Bede’s in Sussex, played for the Sussex Second XI and impressed enough to be named in the England development programme.
“At the start of the year I couldn’t play many games because of school, but once that was finished I was able to get in the team regularly,” said Rawlins, who is moving to Brighton to be closer to the club.
“It will make life a bit easier travelling to and from the ground. It’s a very nice area, especially in the summer when cricket’s around.
“It has all happened really quickly, from getting into the Sussex Academy to going to England trials last year, then getting shortlisted last winter and getting selected for England.
“Some of it hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m sure it will in the next couple of months, when I realise what I have achieved.
“Obviously having the England opportunity is something to really build on. That’s a massive long-term goal, to try to become an England player. It may be a long way off, but is definitely something I can work towards.”
Rawlins moved to England five years ago on a programme set up by the Bermuda Cricket Board, and has now qualified through residency to play for England. However, he can still play for Bermuda and will likely be included in the team that travels to Los Angeles this month for the World Cricket League Division Four Tournament against Oman, Italy, United States and Denmark.
Rawlins is developing into a genuine all-rounder with his leg spin and batting near the top of the order.
“This year I’ve probably played more as a batsman who bowls,” he said. “In the second team I was the main spinner for the majority of the year but in the first team I’ll be a batter who bowls. I’m trying to develop the skill of bowling a lot more so I can be a regular all-rounder. I was batting at five or six but got a couple of opportunities at three.”
Rawlins skipped Cup Match again this year and also turned down the opportunity to make his debut for Bailey’s Bay in the Eastern Counties. He does not regret either decision.
“Playing in Cup Match was massive considering the history behind it,” he said. “Also making my [senior] debut for Bermuda at the National Stadium at the age of 15 has definitely been one of the highlights of my career so far. Not too many have had the opportunity to do it so young.”
Rawlins played under Lorenzo Tucker in Warwick Workmen’s Club’s youth programme before moving to PHC where Cal Waldron was his coach.
“About ten years ago I had my sights set on being the big player in Cup Match, then the opportunity in England came and I haven’t looked back since,” he said.
“Clay Smith was the first coach I had at the national age-group level and he changed me into a left-arm spinner at the age of about ten. Before then I bowled seam.
“Cal Waldron at PHC also played a part in helping me progress and another was [former Bermuda coach] David Moore when he was here. He was brilliant, I thought, with the way he tried to develop you as a cricketer.
“Once I got in that environment [in England] I decided to push and try to become a professional cricketer.
“I’m definitely thankful for the opportunity to go abroad. The link between the Board and the boarding school was what kicked it off at Bede’s and allowed me to go on trial at Sussex through my coach Alan Wells.
“Once I started to play age-group level cricket for Bermuda I started to grow a love for the sport and I told my parents I wanted to go over to England to try to play cricket.
“They weren’t too keen on the idea at first, but then they bit the bullet and five years later it has paid off and I’m thankful to them.”
Rawlins was among several Bermudians to have had opportunities to develop their cricket while in school in England, including Stephen Outerbridge, Stefan Kelly, Kamau Leverock, Tre Manders, Terryn Fray, Christian Burgess and Jordan Smith.
“At the boarding school I was learning how to live by myself and how they ran the school definitely helped me mature,” he said.
“I’m going to Dubai in December with the Young Lions squad and hopefully I can impress, and at the training camps before that, to eventually get picked for the [England] Under-19 squad that goes to India in January.
“Also playing Division Four with Bermuda is something I’m very excited about and keen to get going with.
“The way it works is I’ve already done my qualification to play for England so playing for Bermuda is not going to hinder my chances to play for England.
“Looking back, going to England at 14 was a wise decision because it gave me the right amount of years and days to qualify to play for England. I’m very excited about the opportunities ahead.”
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