Wrong tactics, wrong players, says Smith
Former Cup Match captain Wendell Smith has put Bermuda’s dismal showing at the World Twenty20 qualifiers down to the team being ‘undercooked and tactical naive’.
Smith has also accused the board of selectors of sending the wrong players to Dubai, where the national team have managed just one win in seven matches.
In a letter to The Royal Gazette (Page 29), the ex-Bermuda skipper said no-one should be surprised by the Island’s sorry displays, considering their opponents had been far better prepared for the Twenty20 tournament.
While Bermuda’s players spent the winter restricted to net practice, two of their opponents, Canada and Netherlands who both thrashed David Moore’s side were involved in the Caribbean Twenty20.
That the Bermuda Cricket Board didn’t push for the national team to enter the competition was a costly mistake, said Smith, who reckoned the Caribbean Twenty20 would have been perfect preparation for the qualifiers.
“Most galling was the fact that the Netherlands, one of the teams that actually put a beating on us this past week in Dubai, were invited to play in the Caribbean’s recently concluded Twenty20 tournament that was televised locally on ESPN,” said Smith, who skippered St George’s in Cup Match during the 1980s.
“Another of our Americas region colleagues, Canada, were also graced with a spot in this event. And by the way, they too hammered us this past week.
“Why did the Board’s hierarchy not push for our inclusion in this tournament? The timing and format were both ideal.
“So, while our boys were labouring away in net sessions only, the Netherlands and Canada had the prime opportunity to test their skills, and tactics, against most of the Caribbean’s best.”
The omission of pace duo Malachi Jones and Kevin Hurdle, who tore through the MCC batting line-up in a Twenty20 game at Somerset Cricket Club last summer, was also an oversight, according to Smith.
As was the absence of veteran batsman Glenn Blakeney, who Smith believes is far better suited to the crash, bang, wallop version of cricket than national team captain David Hemp.
“We left behind three or four of our very best players. During the (MCC) match at the Somerset Cricket Club, locals witnessed two bowling performances that were simply outstanding,” Smith said.
“Malachi Jones and Kevin Hurdle displayed magnificent consistency in executing line and length; So much so that after six overs, I believe the MCC total stood at a meagre five runs. Were they invited to train? What about the only other local batsman who can strike a ball as cleanly and aggressively as Lionel, Glenn Blakeney?
“And on this same note, could provisions not have been made to accommodate our best wicketkeeper/batsman, Dean Minors?”
Smith went on: “Perhaps now, the Board will also recognise something that I have been stating for some time. David Hemp’s game is suited for the longer version of the game. That is no slight on him. He is a very knowledgeable cricketer, still very fit and extremely professional in his approach, hence a good role model. However, his style of play is not suited for this type of cricket.”
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