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Bascome ineligibility a fiasco – Paynter

Bermuda wicketkeeper Okera Bascome

The debate over Okera Bascome’s ineligibility to represent Bermuda at the World Cricket League Division Four tournament resurfaced during the Bermuda Cricket Board’s Annual General Meeting last week.

According to Neil Speight, the BCB chief executive, the St George’s wicketkeeper was deemed ineligible for selection because he has not spent sufficient time on the island over the past several years and was therefore ruled out of this month’s trip to Los Angeles.

Bascome 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.

However, Neil Paynter, the St George’s Cricket Club president begs to differ and took the opportunity to voice his concerns over the matter at last week’s AGM.

“How can a young man who was born in Bermuda, has spent three-quarters of his life in Bermuda, have Bermudian parents and have a Bermuda passport still not be eligible to represent his country in the sport that he loves?” he said.

“I can’t remember all of the criteria that Mr Speight stated why the ICC has said he was ineligible outright. But I can’t see why he is ineligible and I have been made to understand, from what I heard in the meeting from other affiliates, is that he met at least one of the criteria.

“The consensus of most people at the meeting was that if you are born in a country, if you have resided in a country, your parents are from the country and you hold a passport from that country what else do you need to be eligible to play for your country if you’re good enough?

“I don’t know how much more Bermudian you can be and my main concern is that I don’t want any other young man who aspires to play for their country be deemed ineligible when they have been born here and then they move away to better themselves as far as education. I just want to make sure no other young Bermudian has to go through what Okera Bascome had to go through.”

Bascome was named in a 54-man training squad in January and was Bermuda’s wicketkeeper during a tour of Canada in September in preparation for the WCL Division Four.

Paynter believes that the ICC’s strict rules are unfair to Bermuda who has been an ICC Associate member since 1966.

“I think what the ICC is trying to do with other countries to me should not be the same rules for Bermuda,” he said. “Other associate members have people from other countries playing for them while Bermuda has people within their country, that were born in their country who want to play for their country and they should be eligible to play. This should supersede any ICC rules in my opinion.”

Paynter remains hopeful that Bascome will eventually get the opportunity to play for Bermuda.

“I would like to think that it’s not a closed case,” he said. “I guess it’s going to have to be up to individuals, whether it be myself or other affiliates, looking into it to make sure that he has the opportunity to represent the country of his birth if he so chooses to and is eligible through his ability to play.”

Bermuda retained their Division Four status after pipping fifth-placed Jersey, who were relegated along with Italy, on net run-rate.