Bermuda aiming to seal shock World Cup spot
Bermuda’s cricketers have their sights set on upsetting the apple cart once again as they get their qualifying campaign under way in the United Arab Emirates, happy to play the role of dark horses in their attempt to earn one of six spots up for grabs at the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia next year.
Their superb performances in the Americas regional finals on home soil in August proved they are more than capable of springing a surprise or two, as they helped to oust the much fancied United States and qualify in second place behind Canada.
Now, the side are ready and raring to do the same as they go in pursuit of featuring in their first T20 World Cup.
“People don’t really know us, so the less they put out there, the easier it makes it for us during the tournament,” coach Herbie Bascome said.
“We have a lot of pluses with us because being in this tournament is exciting for us and the players are very talented.”
One of those immensely talented players is Delray Rawlins, who arrived in the Middle East fresh from what he described as “the best summer” of his career.
The 22-year-old all-rounder echoes his coach’s assessment that the Gombey Warriors are ready to pounce should any of their opposition underestimate them.
“It’s been a while for us being on the qualification stage, let alone the World Cup stage in 2007,” Rawlins said.
“[The regional qualifier] was the first time I’ve qualified with Bermuda through a tournament and that feeling was different. It was special. USA were the favourites and we fancied our chances. We knew what we were capable of, but I don’t think anyone else around the world or even at that tournament knew where we were at as a team and I think we showed everyone that we weren’t to be taken lightly.
“That was a special moment for us and we are coming into this tournament fancying our chances.
“We know as a unit if we play the cricket that we want to and that we’re capable of, then we can beat a lot of teams in this tournament. It’s just about us having confidence. I feel that everyone right now has the confidence, has the belief and it does feel like something special is happening in Bermuda cricket.”
Singapore’s opening-day win over Scotland, the competition’s highest-ranked side and strong favourites to advance to Australia, showed anything is possible. Bermuda will have taken heart having watched the South East Asian side brush aside the Scots.
While Rawlins will be a prized wicket for opposing bowlers, he is adamant that should other nations take him and his team-mates lightly, they do so at their own peril.
“There’s a lot of teams and certain players in the tournament that a lot of people know about,” he said. “So it’s easier for us to go about plans and working out teams we’re playing, but for them they don’t know a lot about us, if anything at all.
“It doesn’t make it easier for us, but it’s definitely something that’s an advantage for us. We are a bit of a surprise package in this tournament and they don’t know what to expect from us, but I know what us boys expect from ourselves and I feel like we’ve got every confidence, every bit of ability to deliver it.”
Should Bermuda go all the way and emerge as one of the six teams that make the T20 World Cup’s first round, it will be a seminal moment for cricket in the country.
In their ranks are three members of that 2007 side that made history in the West Indies, with 44-year-old Janeiro Tucker taking on dual roles as player and coach, 30-year-old Malachi Jones once again leading the attack and the captain from 12 years ago, Irving Romaine, serving as team manager.
Tucker is a veritable legend in Bermuda, appointed an MBE in a recent honours list, while Jones will be remembered as the 17-year-old bowler that dismissed Robin Uthappa thanks to that iconic Dwayne Leverock catch. Irving believes his two former charges as still more than capable of inspiring Bermuda to cricketing history, along with the likes of young stars Rawlins and Kamau Leverock, the nephew of Dwayne.
“Janeiro is still fit as a fiddle and it’s great to have his experience in the squad as player-coach,” Romaine explained.
“As for Malachi, he’s exceptional. At that 2007 World Cup, he was just 17. He started so young, but now he’s one of the senior players in the squad.”
Romaine firmly believes this Bermuda side can replicate the heroics of his team 12 years ago by making history of their own in the UAE.
“A lot of these guys, from a tender age, have watched myself, Malachi and Janeiro play at the World Cup for the first time ever and that really put cricket on another level in Bermuda,” he added.” People really went cricket crazy because they were watching locals play cricket on their TV.
“The thing for me is that they need to believe in themselves and have confidence in their own game.
“They just need to enjoy their cricket, play their own game and they will do well because the game doesn’t change.”
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