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Malachi Jones desperate for another crack at Cricket World Cup

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Jubilant scenes: Malachi Jones celebrates taking the wicket of India's Robin Uthappa with his first ball in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies

Malachi Jones is aiming to turn back the clock and help Bermuda’s cricket team grace a World Cup stage once again.

At just 17-years of age, Jones got off to a dream start in his maiden World Cup appearance in the West Indies in 2007, taking the wicket of India’s Robin Uthappa with his very first ball, courtesy of a diving catch by Dwayne Leverock.

The moment sparked wild celebrations at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain, as both men were instantly etched into cricketing folklore and, while Bermuda ultimately went on to lose the 50-overs match by 257 runs in a winless campaign, Jones still looks back on the day with pride.

“I can still clearly remember everything before and after that moment but everything else is a blur,” said Jones. “What’s most funny is that I wasn’t expecting to play a part.

“When the team was announced, I was shocked that my name wasn’t read out as part of the reserves and that I had been given the chance to be part of the team.

“For the delivery itself, I remember being really calm because there was no expectation on us to beat India and so I just went out and bowled. When I saw Dwayne hold on to the catch, I genuinely can’t tell you how I was feeling or what I was thinking, everyone was just going crazy.

“That moment is definitely up there as a highlight of my career and to be able to qualify for another world cup would just be the icing on the cake.”

Now entering the latter stages of his career, the 33-year-old believes he may not get a better chance to experience that level of competition again as the team prepares to embark on a qualification campaign for the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup.

Jones is among the final 14-man squad aiming to first successfully navigate the Americas Sub-Regional Qualifiers in Argentina this month, where the top three teams will join Canada for the regional finals in Bermuda in September, with the winner ultimately clinching a qualification spot.

Pile on: Bermuda's Malachi Jones, centre, celebrates with team mates after taking the wicket of India's Robin Uthappa, not seen, during the Group B World Cup match between India and Bermuda at the Queen's Park Oval in Port-of-Spain

Having already enjoyed all that comes with playing in a World Cup campaign, Jones is desperate for the rest of the squad to have the same opportunity.

“Any player would love to have an opportunity like that because it is just an amazing experience,” he added. “Just to be around the best players in the world and having the chance to chat with those guys and play against them, it’s amazing.

“Once you’ve done it no one can take those moments and memories away from you. I definitely feel as if we have an opportunity to achieve qualification and in all honesty this could be the best chance we have of doing it again.

“We should definitely be getting through the first qualifiers and then you look at the chance of having home advantage back here for the main qualifiers. It would give the country the chance to come out and really get behind us, which would be a huge advantage.”

As well as the personal incentive, Jones is aware of the greater significance qualification will bring to the island as a whole.

“Unfortunately, the state of the local game and the national side has taken a big hit over the years. I don’t know quite why but there has been little investment through sponsorship,” Jones said.

“Qualification would be huge for everyone involved. Hopefully that would bring more interest back to the game and help to raise the profile again.

“I think we also know that if we fail to qualify then the national programme could suffer majorly. Cricket in Bermuda is struggling and so it needs a major boost in this country. We have to raise those standards again and that time is now.”

Lingering injury concerns had put Jones’s inclusion at risk but he has been given the all-clear by doctors, and as the only member of the squad to have had prior World Cup experience he is determined to play a major role both on and off the field.

Valuable experience: Malachi Jones is determined to play a key leading role among the 14-man Bermuda squad (photograph by Bermuda Cricket Board)

“I was having some issues with my knee but I’ve had an MRI scan and they have said that everything is OK,” said Jones, who admits he has had to adapt his bowling style slightly to aid his recovery.

“It was down to wear and tear, so it was a case of resting more and doing all the strengthening work that I had to do. I’ve also had to change my bowling style slightly and work with less steps in the run-up, but on the whole everything is all good.

“Being part of the squad, I’m definitely trying to pass on my experience. I was the baby among the group in 2007 and now it’s my turn as a senior player to pass on my knowledge and help where I can.

“I definitely feel I can be of value on and off the field, especially with the younger players who haven’t got whole lot of tour experience.

“I’ve been getting a lot of questions but I’m more than happy to listen and pass on what I can, because hopefully I can help these guys to have the opportunity to enjoy the same experience that I did.”

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Published February 14, 2023 at 7:44 am (Updated February 14, 2023 at 11:48 pm)

Malachi Jones desperate for another crack at Cricket World Cup

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