Blame it on the rain: Bermuda recovery halted
Mother Nature poured some much needed salve into the wounds of Herbie Bascome and his Bermuda squad yesterday at Cricket World Cup Challenge League B in Muscat, Oman, where rain brought an official end to a confidence-sapping, eight-match losing streak across all competitions.
When the umpires decided that no further play was possible, with 3.2 of the allotted 50 overs remaining in the first innings, the eighth-wicket pair of Justin Pitcher (29) and Sinclair Smith (26) had gone some ways to repairing another middle-order stumble in a 48-run stand that lifted Bermuda to 230 for seven and the promise of a competitive total.
Tre Manders had earlier made 51, his third successive fifty, to lead all scorers. Delray Rawlins added a scratchy 35, Kamau Leverock smashed a typically quick 30 and the reliable Onias Bascome made 26.
Manders may have had the top score but he also outstripped his more decorated colleagues in being the most pleasing on the eye, with his three fours during a 19-run over from seam bowler Emmanuel Ringera in the company of Rawlins the obvious highlight.
Growing in assurance on the front foot and back, Manders brought up his fastest half-century in Oman from 55 balls, with eight fours.
He had already outlasted Rawlins in a 68-run partnership for the third wicket when an error in judgment led to him being bowled playing back to a ball from leg spinner Collins Obuya that required a front-foot approach. Spin was introduced in the sixteenth over, by which time Bermuda were off to the races at 111 for two, inspired again by Leverock’s audaciously clean hitting at the top of the order.
Unfazed by losing a wicket in the first over, Leverock seemed on course for a third straight half-century of his own before getting foxed by the impressive Lameck Onyango and holing out to long-on.
By then, though, the rate was approaching ten an over, Bermuda’s 50 having been brought up in the fifth over.
Leverock perished two overs later after hitting three fours and two sixes in his 20 balls faced.
Onyango, who bowled his ten overs straight through, took a bit of tap early on but troubled the Bermuda batsmen throughout with his variety, especially left-handers Leverock and Rawlins.
Employing clever off cutters in conjunction with his regular seam-up, the right-arm bowler recovered from Leverock’s early onslaught to finish with an admirable three for 52, including the perennially struggling Okera Bascome in the first over and Rawlins.
This was a most uncertain performance from the Sussex starlet, who lacked fluency for the duration of his 44-ball innings.
The left-hander, who was struck in the unmentionables early doors by Nehemiah Odhiambo, hit five fours but only one — a powerful flick through leg off the same bowler — carried any real authority.
His stay ended most unsatisfactorily, with a leg-side flick that took a leading edge and was well held by a sprawling Rushab Patel in the covers.
The shot was disappointing not only for its execution but for the timing of it being on the penultimate ball of Onyango’s ten overs.
At that stage, Bermuda were 126 for two in the nineteenth over and had a platform to counter Kenya’s vaunted, four-prong spin attack.
But the dismissal meant the innings needed to restart, and it was slow going — the next 16 overs bringing only 56 runs for four wickets as the squeeze was put on.
Apart from Onias Bascome’s manful effort before falling to a lightning-fast stumping, much of what followed reeked of familiarity before Smith reminded why he was once thought of as a Cup Match opening bat and Pitcher, the “unofficial” 2019 Cup Match MVP, showed further glimpses of his all-round capability.
Unmistakeably, cracks have been papered over so that coach Bascome can continue to field who he sees as the best players, but what Dubai and 2½ games in Oman have shown is that the “best players” do not necessarily form the best team — and definitely not the best balanced XI.
Central to a bewildering intransigence in selection are the struggles of Okera Bascome and Deunte Darrell — and now captain Terryn Fray — despite a shuffling of the batting order yesterday.
Bascome, whose days really should be numbered after this lamentable effort, was promoted to opener to arrest a stunning and sustained loss of form.
Figuratively taken out of the frying pan and dropped into the fire, the right-hander responded by hitting a six over backward square leg off the second ball of the match, but off the sixth he carved an ill-advised swipe to third man — slumping off the field looking bereft of confidence, having left Bermuda six for one after the first over.
Either side of a pleasing 37 against Namibia in the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier in Dubai, the 25-year-old’s dance card in competitive fixtures reads 6, 4, 0, 1, 6, 0, 6, 6 — unsustainable at any level, let alone on international duty, and unfathomable that tour management would roll him out game after game without a break for introspection.
But Bascome has company in that regard.
Fray, who moved himself down to No 5 to inspire a change in his own declining fortunes, was out leg-before for the third time in as many innings in Muscat after making five — the captain has mustered a mere 42 runs from his past seven innings.
And Darrell, now down to No 7, naively ran himself out for nine — his second such dismissal in succession — to extend to six his sequence of single-digit returns in Bermuda colours.
Clearly undroppable in the coach’s eyes, Darrell flattered to deceive after making 24 and 47 not out against Hong Kong and Nigeria respectively in the warm-ups in Dubai.
But when the matches have really counted, the tall right-hander has amassed 44 runs in nine innings — his presence in the playing XI interrupted only by suspension.
The rot has set in with such perplexing inflexibility in selection that the batting reserves, in the continued and unexplained absence of Dion Stovell after the first match, must feel as though it would take loss of limb to get a look-in.
A long way to travel for Coolidge Durham and Pierre Smith if that truly is the case.
Left-arm spinner Derrick Brangman was the only change from the team that lost to Uganda, inserted in place of fast bowler Zeko Burgess.
Bermuda’s first point leaves them bottom of Challenge League B with two matches to come against Jersey on Wednesday and Italy the day after.
Also abandoned was the match on the No 1 pitch, where Hong Kong had reached 170 for seven in 45.3 overs against Italy.
O Bascome c Odhiambo b Onyango 6
K S Leverock c Gondaria b Onyango 30
T Manders b Obuya 51
D M W Rawlins c R N Patel b Onyango 35
*T S Fray lbw b Obuya 5
O G L Bascome st Karim b Ngoche 26
D A P Darrell run out 9
J E Pitcher not out 29
†S Smith not out 24
Extras (lb 4, nb 1, w 10) 15
Total (7 wkts; 46.4 overs) 230
K C Hodsoll and D L Brangman did not bat.
Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-58, 3-126, 4-136, 5-155, 6-173, 7-182.
Bowling: Onyango 10-1-52-3; Ringera 4-0-49-0; Odhiambo 3-0-16-0; Bhimji 8-1-30-0; Obuya 9-0-35-2; Ngoche 8.4-2-25-1; Gondaria 4-0-19-0.
Kenya: *†I A Karim, N Patel, D M Gondaria, R R Patel, C O Obuya, S O Ngoche, R N Patel, J L Bhimji, N N Odhiambo, L O Onyango, E B Ringera.
Umpires: V Babu (Oman) and T H Dar (Hong Kong).
Match referee: M Nayyar (India).
Al Amerat Cricket Ground, Ministry Turf 1 (Italy won toss): Hong Kong 170-7 (45.3 overs). Match abandoned. Hong Kong (1pt), Italy (1).
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