Bermuda won’t take an team lightly, insists Manders
“We’re not underestimating anybody!”
That’s the promise from coach Arnold Manders ahead of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 3 Tournament which begins in Bermuda on Sunday.
Manders saw Oman and Italy pick up victories against the Bermuda team and a BCB Select XI in warm-up matches at Sea Breeze Oval this week, but he says even before then he knew of the quality of all the teams in the tournament, including likely favourites United States, Nepal and Uganda.
“All the teams are balanced and whichever team makes the fewer mistakes or does the most things right is the team that is going to win because there really isn’t a lot of difference between the teams,” said the interim coach. “All six teams have a chance of going through.”
Fans at Sea Breeze Oval on Tuesday got to see an Italy side made up of Sri Lankans, Australians and South Africa thrash a BCB Select side by 118 runs. Manders cautions the Bermuda spectators not to think teams like Italy will be easy to beat.
“The Board has been saying this for years, people see Italy and say ‘well, what about Italy’, but Italy have 3,000 players and 90 high performance players and we don’t even have 20 high performance players,” said Manders. “All these teams have foreign players. Everybody is on the same level, the United States are coming with a former West Indies Test player (spinner Neil McGarrell, now 40, who played four Tests and 17 ODIs), Pakistanis, Australians, West Indians, New Zealanders and Indians.
“We’re not underestimating anybody, we’re playing for our lives, first not to go down to Division 4 and then to get into the top two. We’ve long knew we have our work cut out for us. We already knew the quality of the teams and that we are all around the same (level). It’s about who makes the few mistakes. There’s no favourite in this tournament.”
Manders says while Bermuda have home advantage, that advantage is neutralised by the fact that the season has not yet started. “We’re used to the wickets but we haven’t played on any of them so we’re just like everybody else,” he stressed.
“Remember we are out of season and the wickets are not as hard as they usually are so we will have to adapt. We have to deal with what we are in control of.”
And neither will the often critical home crowd be an advantage, Manders says.
“When we played against Melbourne some of them got into the players’ heads, but that’s something we talk about all the time and if the players are in the zone they really shouldn’t be hearing them,” said the former Bermuda all-rounder.
“I always said when we were playing that Bermuda plays their better cricket away from home because we don’t have to listen to all of that. What the Bermuda public needs to understand is these teams are a lot better than they (fans) think they are. If anyone, we’re the underdogs.”
All the visiting teams are due to arrive by today, including Nepal who had visa issues which were only cleared up on Tuesday which allowed them to leave for Britain via India.
The team, comprising 14 players and five officials, departed for Bermuda after getting visas from the British High Commission in New Delhi.
The United States had some controversy surrounding their team as veteran batsman Aditya Thyagarajan and fast bowler Usman Shuja were left out of their 14-man squad. Thyagarajan, 34, is the US’s third-highest run-scorer in 50 overs cricket behind captain Steve Massiah and vice captain Sushil Nadkarni and has been a member of the national team since his debut in 2008. Thyagarajan played all three 50-over friendly matches against Bermuda in Florida recently.
Shuja is USA’s second-highest wicket-taker in limited overs cricket, behind former captain Zamin Amin and with 46 games under his belt since 2006 was expected to lead the US bowling in Bermuda. In all, six players from the team that finished runner-up in the Division 4 final last year in Malaysia where they were beaten by Nepal, are absent from the squad for the trip to Bermuda. The team will arrive today and play Uganda in a warm-up match tomorrow at Southampton Oval.
The leading two sides from the Division 3 tournament will progress to the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers next year in New Zealand in 2014 which will feature 10 of the leading Associate and Affiliate teams. The top two sides from that qualifying event will then advance to the 14-team ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, to be held in Australia and New Zealand, where they will compete against the ten Full Members teams.
As the teams arrive, Bermuda captain Stephen Outerbridge says the team is firmly focused on a top two finish. “The team recognises the importance of finishing in the top two of WCL Division 3 if they have aspiration of playing in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup,” said Outerbridge who recently succeeded David Hemp as captain.
“As recently appointed captain of Bermuda I think this is a great opportunity for my team to showcase its talents on home soil with the support of family, friends and supporters,” said Outerbridge. “I am grateful for the trust that has been bestowed in me. I hope to deliver success for my team and country at this tournament.”
In 2012, Bermuda finished 13th at the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE, and, more recently, finished second in the recent ICC Americas Division 1 tournament. The left-hander believes his team can continue building on these results.
“I hope that everyone has learned from our previous disappointments, which should help us put together a string of positive team performances going forward.”
Regional rival USA are arriving in Bermuda on the back of a successful campaign at the ICC Americas Division 1, where they won all of their matches finish the event undefeated. USA won promotion to WCL Division 3 after finishing second in WCL Division 4 last September.
USA captain Steve Massiah says his team is focused on finishing in the top two for a number of reasons. “WCL Division 3 is something that many players in US cricket have had as an ambition to participate in for some time now,” said Massiah. “It is important to win promotion to ensure that the future of cricket in our country is strong and moving forward. I will do my very best to achieve the ultimate goal of progressing to the next stage of qualification.”
The 33-year-old, who was born in Guyana, believes that his side is well prepared for the tournament. “Our preparation for the tournament has been thorough and the team is looking forward to improving our professionalism on and off the ground.”
Oman, who are returning to WCL Division 3 after finishing third in the event in 2011, were one of the first teams to arrive in Bermuda and captain Vaibhav Wategaonkar is looking forward to a successful week of cricket. “This tournament means a lot to me, as I’m captaining the national side for the first time, and also it means a lot for the whole team,” said Wategaonkar.
“It’s a big and very important opportunity for us. If we qualify for the WCL Qualifier 2014, then we will get the chance to play against WCL Championship teams, and playing against them is an enriching experience and also it helps us to show our talent on a bigger cricketing platform. We are a good side, a very talented side.”
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