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Bermuda to compete against top US franchises in President Cup T20

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Bermuda’s cricket team to take on USA’s best teams

Bermuda will get the chance to test themselves against some of the top cricket franchises in the United States after they were announced as the latest team to compete in the President Cup.

The T20 tournament, which runs from February 17, will feature eight teams and is being used as Bermuda’s warm-up for the ICC T20 World Cup Americas qualifier in Argentina, which starts on February 25.

Former Jamaica, Trinidad and West Indies batter Ricardo Powell, who has close ties to the game in America, came to Bermuda’s rescue after potential games against the national squad fell through.

Coming home: Sussex all-rounder Delray Rawlins (Photograph by Getty Images)

“We were trying to play three matches against Cricket USA but we were not able to get aligned with our schedules,” said Cal Blankendal, executive director of the Bermuda Cricket Board.

“We had already booked our pre-Argentina preparations in the United States from February 15 to 19, so we were in a bit of a bind, but we were able to make contact with Ricardo Powell. For that I must thank Herbie Bascome, the previous national coach. He introduced me to Ricardo when I joined the BCB two years ago and that has been really beneficial to us.

“Ricardo reached out to us a few months ago to say that he would be willing to support us if we ever needed any assistance. We were without any preparation matches, so I gave him a call asking him to assist us and he was able to come back inside of 24 hours to inform us we could enter this T20 tournament.”

With most of the Bermuda players having gone a few months without any intense competition, the importance of practice matches cannot be underestimated, with the matches also acting as a shop window for players.

“It will be good for the players to get three high-quality warm-up matches and also put themselves in a positive light for any future T20 competitions,” Blankendal said.

“It is the fastest-growing segment in cricket, and perhaps give them a chance internationally, so this is good for the BCB and the players.”

The tournament consists of a league format and Bermuda will play three matches, but they would need to withdraw from the tournament should they reach the latter stages.

“We will play three matches on February 17 to 18, which will be split into two day matches and a night match,” Blankendal said.

“If we were to make it out of the league and into the final rounds, we would not be able to play in those matches because our flight to Argentina is already scheduled and there is no room to adjust it because a lot of flights are booked, as there is a carnival around that time.

Young players get chance for national cricket team meet-and-greet

“We are very appreciative of the tournament organisers, who have been flexible in allowing us to drop out and replace us with another team if we were to make it to the finals.

“But these games are important to us, the players will take them seriously to test themselves in a franchise tournament. There are four drafts for these teams in America and this could bode well for some of our players to play internationally like Delray Rawlins and Kamau Leverock do.”

One man who will not be travelling to the United States is coach Niraj Odedra, who is finishing his contractual obligations in India before flying to meet the squad in Argentina.

“Niraj will be competing in the quarter-finals of a T20 competition with his team in India, so he is still tied up there,” Blankendal said.

“If he makes it to the finals, they will take place in early February, so he will be meeting us in Argentina. Cal Waldron will be head coach and Courtney Trott the team manager for the trip to Florida and, if needed, we can always have an additional coach or support member travel.”

With Rawlins and Leverock scheduled to return to the island this week, the BCB has arranged for Bermuda’s brightest young cricketing talents to meet the national team this weekend at North Field.

“There will be a meet-and-greet with senior men’s national team players with future national team players,” Blankendal said.

“We just want to make sure the country is part of our campaign and encourage the next generation to enjoy the game and look up to our star players and see themselves in that position in the future.

“We need to keep the game alive and that starts by getting the youth involved and introducing them to cricket. Everybody wants to have their heroes. In football we have Nahki Wells and in cricket we have Delray Rawlins, so we want to make sure those kids get to meet those individuals.”

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Published February 01, 2023 at 1:51 am (Updated February 01, 2023 at 1:51 am)

Bermuda to compete against top US franchises in President Cup T20

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