Time to put some pride back into the Bermuda shirt
Now that the news is out that I will be available for the final leg of the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B in Jersey next month, this is the time to put some pride back into putting on the Bermuda kit.
I had a lot of chats with the head selector [Dwayne Leverock] and various other people at the board. You know how county cricket is, things come thick and fast, but I would expect to miss only the first three or four games in the Royal London Cup 50-overs competition with the County Championship taking a break between July 30 and September 12. As of now, I’ll be in Jersey, a short hop from here, and trying to help some of the young guys who probably haven't had that experience and pass on some of my knowledge and contribute performances in taking wickets and scoring runs.
There’s no pressure on the tournament because we are already eliminated and can’t get through. So I think it’s about going and enjoying ourselves, playing with pride and looking to get one over on a few teams that have got one up on us in the last couple of years.
That said, we cannot ignore the elephant in the room — which is how much more exposure our traditional rivals, and some newer ones, are getting to international cricket than we are. That has been bugging a few of the more senior players in the national set-up for some time and was seen at our recent tournament in Antigua, where Canada and the United States were coming off continuous cricket while we hadn’t played as a team for two years! Now the US plus recent opponents Jersey, Uganda and Hong Kong are in Zimbabwe playing in the T20 World Cup Qualifier while our guys are back at their clubs in Bermuda — worse when we are out of season.
That’s one of the biggest elements missing in our cricket. There is no doubt that the talent and skill level is there with a lot of guys, even a lot of guys who probably haven’t had a lot of international experiences. There’s a lot of willingness to want to get better, by the look of things, but you only get better by playing games. Playing a tournament every 12 or 18 months is not ideal. And then when we finish tournaments, we go home and sometimes we don't even train right away. Whereas the other teams that we play against, they probably stay on and go to another country and play for another month or so.
That’s one of the big challenges, which is through no fault of us as players. I think it is something that definitely needs to be looked at with the new coach and a few others involved in the board. Hopefully, that’s something that can be addressed, improved and taken forward.
The squad going to Jersey is not nearly as young or inexperienced as that which went to Uganda, but it is good that many of them have been retained. This is an ideal situation for those young players to develop. There is no pressure on qualifying or trying to be there or thereabout, so it can be purely used as a learning curve for some guys and a way to look and see how others go about their work.
It’s funny. I was thinking about my batting and how I’ve started to put a few more performances together. I feel like I’ve learnt off some of the overseas players that we have had this season at Sussex without really talking to them much — just watching them train and watching them go about their work and try to incorporate a few things from their prep or the game in general into mine. It opened my eyes to my batting and my prep; hopefully it’s something that could potentially creep into some of the guys in the Bermuda squad who haven’t had as much international experience. That’s a big part of the game — being a sponge, learning and absorbing — and is an area where some of the more experienced players such as myself can help.
For now the focus is on finishing the season strong. There has been a noticeable upturn at Sussex in the past month, especially in the four-day game where we had been struggling. We are in the middle of a match against Leicestershire, where we’ve scored 588 in the first innings — the highest total I’ve been involved in in my time here. Runs are currency — that's the saying they use — and obviously it would have been nice to have gone on and got three figures. But if somebody would’ve said to me, you’ll get 75 and the team will get 588, I would’ve said I’ll take that. Definitely.
We’ve been talking about trying to build a brand of cricket and the way we want to go about winning. Once you get in and get a nice little start, ideally we want to be getting 450, 500 — and that’s what we’ve done.
We’ve been on this upward curve, really, the past four weeks, or maybe even a bit longer. I feel like we’ve put ourselves in winning positions, but just quite haven't managed to finish it off. The revival started in the game against Glamorgan. We batted ourselves into a position where we could have potentially made it a trickier chase, but we identified that and learnt from it as a group, and then against Derbyshire, they let us back in the game by batting again instead of enforcing the follow-on.
Our bowlers slammed away at a length and took seven wickets when, realistically on that pitch, it never really looked like you could have someone 120 or 140 for seven. So it just shows that we’ve been learning and we’ve been trying to put our wrongs right. As a result, we earned the right to be able to chase 345 on the last day; just as England did in the Test against India when initially they were behind in the game.
Everything we have tried to do is all about winning. Straight away from the start of that run chase, right up until the end. So yeah, we've been on this upward curve and it showed again in this game against Leicestershire when we were ruthless with the bat and got a huge total.
• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith