Bascome not Bermudian enough to play — ICC
Okera Bascome has not spent enough time on the island over the past few years to be eligible to represent Bermuda at this month's World Cricket League Division Four tournament in Los Angeles, Neil Speight of the Bermuda Cricket Board revealed.
Bascome, who was the team's wicketkeeper during the team's tour of Canada last month, does not qualify under strict ICC regulations, even though he was born on the island to Bermudian parents. He lives in England and only returns to the island during the summer when he plays for St George's.
Strict guidelines are in place to prevent countries from exploiting the rules in order to have players play for them, said Speight who put forward a case to have Bascome made eligible.
“The application I put in included the fact that his father [Herbie] and two brothers [Oronde and Onias] have played for the country,” Speight said. “It's not like he doesn't have a link to the country.”
Interestingly, another brother, Osagi, who is also based in Europe, is currently on international duty with the Under-20 football team in Curaçao. He made his senior team debut in the Caribbean Cup in June.
David Hemp was able to represent Bermuda at the 2007 World Cup as he was born in Bermuda, though he grew up in England.
“He was required to reside on the island for 100 days when he did a stint of coaching here. Hemp never played league cricket in Bermuda.
“There are rules for certain development events that are more stringent than global events,” said Speight who used the “exceptional circumstances” option to push Bascome's case. He explained that the fact that Bascome never played at Under-19 national level worked against him, though he did play for the Bermuda Under-13s and Under-15s.
“There is a whole process and a form because I think it happens quite a lot. There are countries that have non-resident nationals and that's not uncommon for many countries.
“There are also countries like Guernsey and Jersey who have been in a similar situation to us in that they have their ground cricket system, develop their own players.
“Then the kids go off to high school or university in the UK so they are not, effectively, in their own country and have to apply for “exceptional circumstances” where there is a form they have to fill out in as much detail as you can. Then the committee looks at it and reviews it.
“They said he [Bascome] doesn't meet the criteria and his case doesn't fit within previous precedence for granting exceptional criteria. I'm sure the original intent was to deal with countries who are effectively playing mercenaries.
“ICC has rules for development events to help prevent mercenaries who don't have an attachment to that country. The rules are there to promote indigenous development which is something we're very good at.”
Most of the associate countries, including Americas neighbours Canada and the United States, have teams made up largely of players born in Asian countries, whereas Bermuda's entire team nowadays is Bermudian born.
“One of the rules causing us grief is the players have to demonstrate that they've played three seasons out of the last five in their domestic competition,” said Speight, referring to players such as Delray Rawlins and Kamau Leverock who spend most of their summers playing in the UK.
“A lot of players have the UK passports and go away to school. It's been a lot of debate back and forth with the ICC and unfortunately Okera Bascome couldn't become eligible, but everyone else we did get over the line.
“We also had to put one in for Cejay [Outerbridge] who wasn't good enough to play for St David's first team when he was 13, 14. Then he started playing and was out for two years after a bike accident which meant that he also missed playing for the national Under-19s, so he didn't meet the criteria”
Speight admits the ruling needs more careful review.
“It certainly is time for those rules to be overhauled and to make sure they fulfil the intentions of 10 or 15 years ago,” he said. “Two elements to the regulations is a player must be born in a country, a national in a country or be a four-year or seven-year resident of the country to be eligible to play for that country.
“Once you get to Division Three or lower there is additional development criteria. One is you have to provide 100 days of cricket work in a country. The big one we're working on is you have to demonstrate that you played in at least 50 per cent of matches in three of the last five years.”
With Christian Burgess also ruled out with a knee injury that also kept him out of Cup Match and several other wicketkeepers unavailable, coach Clay Smith turned to veteran Dean Minors to fill the void. Minors is in the team that is travelling to Los Angeles next week and will play in the practice matches against Canada starting today.
Rawlins and Leverock will also travel with the Bermuda team though Rawlins will miss this weekend's warm-up matches as he left to return to England on Tuesday. He is part of the England Young Lions winter programme.
Leverock is due to return to the island today so will miss the first of the three matches at the National Sports Centre.
“We do have a lot of people overseas and that's good for them in terms of their academic and cricket development,” Speight said. “But we need to stay on top of the regulations, too.”