Hold your heads up, Bermuda – this is a learning curve
It has been difficult to view how Bermuda have been getting on at the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B in Uganda. It is definitely a big eye-opener for many of the younger guys in the group who have not played any international cricket to that standard, but they should not lose heart.
I remember my first experience of it. I made my debut for Bermuda at 15, I think it was. It was just before I was signed at Sussex, the year before I went to boarding school at Bede’s.
It was an eye-opener, but I’ve always been someone who is up for a challenge, so it was a positive eye-opener. You always want to play for your country; I didn’t expect to do it at the age of 15, to be honest, but I was able to go back and understand what to do to get better. I would definitely say that cricket definitely prepared me for a bit of professional cricket as well.
Hopefully, Uganda will be a learning curve for a lot of guys over there and pushes them to get better and go that extra step.
Yeah, a lot of those guys are playing their first 50-overs games in senior cricket, and obviously, there are a few who have been there at that level quite a bit before. Once you get the combinations and have the balance right in terms of youth and experience, I think with the talent in the team, it could be a pretty strong team.
When you play for your country, it’s always about putting everything on the line and not leaving anything out there on the field. I know those guys definitely will be doing that. No one enjoys losing; if you do, you’re definitely in the wrong profession or doing the wrong thing. I know a lot of those guys will be thinking about where they can better and thinking about their games, how they can improve and try to help the team.
You’re always only as good as your next game. You go and win a game, or you go and get a match-winning 30, 40 or 50, or you go and get a match-winning four wickets, what happened in the first two games can quickly be forgotten. So always look ahead, look where you can improve, and see how you can probably help your team-mate, help your team or just help yourself to get better.
We are underdogs in Uganda, which is a big fall from the glory days of qualifying for the 2007 World Cup, but we must accept where we are right now and throw our support fully behind the team. I feel like every tournament that we’ve entered in the last few years, we’ve been the underdogs, especially some of the Twenty20 ones. A couple of times, we have managed to get out of our group and get to the next world stage. I know certain guys thrive off not being favourites and having a point to prove, so hopefully that can motivate a few guys. If someone can stick their hand up when we need 50 to win or 30 or 40 to win, and go and get it and be the man to get us a victory.
We could definitely use a few of those at Sussex. Five defeats in a row in the Vitality Blast have put us in must-win territory if we wish to have any chance to make a repeat appearance at Finals Day. It’s really up to us. We’ve been in games where we’ve had match-winning positions that we’ve let slip. Now, it’s all really up to us, and all in our hands to try and put right, having to win the last four to get through.
That starts tonight against South group leaders Surrey at home, where we have three of our last four games. It’s always nice playing at home; obviously knowing our home ground at Hove is slightly different to other quite a few other grounds — it’s sort of like two different ends, almost. But, it’ll be nice to be back in the front of the home crowd. It feels like we haven’t been back home in a little while. Hopefully, that can turn it around. Surrey are missing a few big names through England commitments [Jason Roy, Sam Curran and Reece Topley]. I’m sure we can get one up on them, turn it around and then get a little run going.
We just have to go and handle our business — win all the games, smash all the games. We’ve been here before in terms of needing wins to get in; the last few years, we’ve had to make sure we win to get in. At the end of the day, everyone knows what the end goal is, so it’s just about everyone sticking together and putting the performances in. We’ve had a couple of good individual performances, and hopefully we can just put a complete game together tonight and get over the line.
After these back-to-back Vitality Blast games against Sussex and Kent, it’s back to red-ball cricket against Derbyshire in the County Championship on Sunday when we hope to end a run of 20 matches without a win in the four-day game.
We have showed in every game that we're getting better, and got close to that elusive first win against Glamorgan in Cardiff. We just didn’t get enough runs in the third innings, which made their chase a little bit easier. We probably gave them too many runs in their first innings — 494 thanks to a 328-run, second-wicket partnership between century-makers Colin Ingram (178) and Eddie Byrom (176) — which meant that they chased 70 or 80 runs less than they should have, which made a big difference in the end.
But we’re showing progress. Obviously, it’s still a young group with a few senior guys in it, but people are putting their hands up at different times and different situations. Similar to T20, if we can get one complete game together, I think we’ll definitely see a win.
Personally, the form is coming good with the championship fifty against Glamorgan in the second innings hopefully solidifying my place in the four-day team. It’s one of those things where you get a bit of momentum, get one score under your belt and you get a bit of confidence — it’s like a trickle-on effect. I got a few out of the middle in the last game and hopefully I can bring that form into this T20 game against Surrey. Obviously, this is a must-win game and it’s about putting a performance together. I’m feeling good, practising well and I think it’s just showing in the games now.
I’ve been working hard with batting coach Grant Flower and assistant batting coach Ashley Wright. They’re studying my game in a bit more depth, finding what works for me in my prep. No one’s ever the finished article, but things are starting to fall into place for me in the middle and hopefully we can continue with some bigger runs in the near future.
• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith