Jonté v Kamau ‒ wish I had a front-row seat for that!
It’s Cup Match time in Bermuda and this year has the makings of something special. and maybe, just maybe, St George’s will have the ingredients to bring the cup back east after 11 largely frustrating years.
An added dynamic to this year’s Classic is the selection of Jonté Smith. It was no surprise to me at all and I think it just goes again to show you the talent that’s in Bermuda when you consider this is a guy who’s played however many years of professional football, hasn’t played any cricket, I think, since his first year in England when he last probably played a couple of games. Funny enough, we used to go to the nets sometimes in my early days in England and just play around — you could always see that he still had it!
I thought he was going to get picked and it was no surprise when his name showed up on the board. I hope that he just goes out there and puts in a performance, something similar to his dad [Clay Smith] and his uncle [Wendell Smith].
I wish I could be there to see him face Kamau Leverock. We all lived together and played together in those early days in England; that’s going to be a sick match-up, which I’m not sure those watching Cup Match can fully appreciate because of what those two mean to each other.
It is right that Somerset are favourites; they have a good and settled team. But the game is played on the day and I would caution against putting too much stock into how the final trials went, although neither side covered themselves with too much glory with the bat.
It is easy to get caught up in the trials, the scores and what happened there, but I think it’s a different feel come Thursday and Friday — as I found out when I played my only game in 2014. I don’t think I got any runs in the final trial; in either trial, actually. And then, that adrenalin, the nervous butterflies, I guess, they come out in the right way for some people and things on that day just take care of themselves. So I wouldn’t look into Saturday’s batting mishaps too much. Cricket’s a funny game.
I know much has been said about my withdrawal from the Bermuda team for the third and final leg of the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B in Jersey. I love playing for Bermuda and always want to be there to help the boys, but I just felt at this time, this moment in the season, I think is a pretty crucial and important stage for myself to be here and put in performances.
There’s a 50-over tournament [Royal London One-Day Cup] coming up, which in the grand scheme of things doesn’t look that big because all the big players are playing in The Hundred, but it still counts for a lot of things going forward in terms of stats and putting your hand up to be involved in future tournaments in England or around the world potentially. I just felt it was better for me to withdraw myself and be here to take my opportunities in the final year of my contract.
Last year, there were talks about a new deal. Obviously, nothing is concrete in the sporting world and things can change very quickly. But it has been non-stop cricket this year, so I haven’t really been able to have those conversations with the people that I’ve needed to. I’m in a pretty good place in my cricket at the moment, so I’ve just been focusing on that. But you always find that when you do things on the field, those sorts of things take care of themselves.
I hope the guys when they get to Jersey can give a much better account of themselves than what was seen in Uganda. There are a few more experienced players in this group, a few more guys that have been at that level for a longer period of time. Obviously, we can’t really qualify for the next stage, but it’s about playing with a bit of pride and showcasing talents and skills.
There are new coaching structures in place with Niraj Odedra [head coach] and Elliot Wilson [director of cricket] on board, and judging by a few conversations I’ve had and the things that I’ve seen, it looks like they are starting to put things right. There are a lot of chats around improving the cricket and improving the general standards on the island, which is something that I think is really healthy. It will be interesting to see what the next eight to 12 months holds for us as a group.
One of the main things is to put a group or a squad together that you can build for the next six to eight months. Our standing in international cricket is not going to be something that changes overnight; obviously it has to be gradual. But with the talent and the skill, and then the knowledge that Elliott and Niraj are going to bring in, I think we can see a step in the right direction in the next few months and hopefully in the years to come that can turn us around so we can try and get Bermuda cricket back to somewhere close to where we were.
• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith