Culture shift in full swing as Bermuda Cricket modernises
Bermuda Cricket Board president Arnold Manders is adamant a culture shift was required in order for the national team to try to fulfil their aspiration of qualifying for the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup.
In advance of the first step of achieving that goal by successfully navigating the Americas Sub-Regional Qualifiers in Argentina next month, the Bermuda Cricket Board has implemented a number of changes to get the players prepared both on and off the field.
Kenny Thompson, a trainer at Beast Gym, has been drafted in to get the players up to peak physical fitness with dedicated individual programmes, while the national board has also turned to David Scott, professor of sports psychology at the University of New Brunswick, to improve the mindset of the squad.
After identifying those areas as weaknesses, Manders is confident the additional support and changes will prove pivotal in moving towards a more professional national set-up.
“We're trying to build a culture. We're not professionals but to achieve what we want to, we have to be as close to it as possible,” Manders said.
“That means on the fitness side, understanding the skill set and what needs to be improved upon as well as the mental aspects of the game. Those were areas that were previously identified as weaknesses.
“The players have been in the gym and working hard. It's been a real purpose of trying to get them fit and now they're in training to get the skill work in. We're trying to do the right things and giving the squad the opportunity to be successful.”
Allied to the physical changes, Cal Blankendal, executive director of the BCB, confirmed that sports psychology sessions will be mandatory for all players selected for the initial 15-man squad, with Scott arriving in Bermuda on Saturday.
“All the players who have been selected as part of the national squad will take part in a training camp on January 22, in which they will do two sessions in the morning and then they will be under our authority. They will have sessions with the sports psychologist and he will set time slots with individual players,” said Blankendal.
“We're moving away from players having a choice to where they are part of a national programme and what we say is mandatory. If someone does not want to do something, we have a group of other players who will come in.
“Players want certain things from us and in turn we want certain things from them. If we want to be successful we all have to do better. We want to put Bermuda on the map and so we need everyone to get behind us.”
While the enforced expectations may appear to be stern, they will come as no shock to the squad with Dwayne Leverock, head of the national team selection committee, revealing certain terms and conditions had to be agreed upon in October as a prerequisite to be included in the squad.
“We had a meeting at Young Men's Social Club in October with players who were invited to play for the national team,” he said. “They had to sign an agreement in which they had make themselves available and those were the players who have been selected.
“The players are now trying to put the work in and adhere to what the coaches want.”
The Americas Qualifiers, which begin on February 25, will feature Bermuda taking on Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Panama, Surinam and hosts Argentina.
The top three teams will be joined by favourites Canada for the regional finals, which will be held in Bermuda in September, with the winners clinching the last World Cup qualifying spot. United States have qualified as joint hosts.