Rumour mill in overdrive as Dion Stovell contemplates Bermuda return
National cricket coach Niraj Odedra would welcome the availability of Dion Stovell for the upcoming ICC Men's T20 World Cup Americas Regional Qualifier.
The 38-year-old was not involved when Bermuda breezed through the Sub-Regional Qualifier in Argentina in March but with the World Cup now within reach, there are rumours that Stovell could be tempted back into the fold for the final stage of qualification which takes place on home soil from September 28 to October 8.
There has been talk that the experienced all-rounder has expressed a renewed desire to again be part of the national set-up, with Odedra more than happy to entertain the proposition.
“Dion is a player who since I came here has always been in my thoughts in regards to the national team,” said Odedra.
“I have always been in touch with him and from what he said before, he was not ready to be a part of the squad. From what I know he has a young child and his father was ill so he didn’t feel he could be part of the previous squad.
“However, the information we are hearing recently is that he may now be having a change of heart and may want to be involved again and playing for Bermuda.
“If he is saying he wants to be involved again then he is more than welcome. He is a player I respect, he has been performing really well and he has the ability and personality to fit the culture that we want.
“I’ve always said that I’m looking for someone who can come in and bat strongly at five or six, but also be able to have an impact with the ball, and with Dion bowling spin, he fits that perfectly.”
Stovell has been in superb form domestically, making a major impact back at Cleveland County as well starring for Somerset in Cup Match, in which he became the third cricketer to score consecutive centuries in the Annual Classic.
As well as Stovell’s playing ability, Odedra also highlighted the importance of experience as Bermuda prepare for a much sterner test than the one faced in Argentina.
“Having experienced players in the squad always matters,” added Odedra, who has also left the door open for Allan Douglas Jr to stake his claim for selection.
“In Twenty20 competitions it is important to have experienced players that you can build a team around and rotate around in matches.
“We have players like Dion, as well as Allan Douglas Jr, who have that experience as well as talent. If they want to come in and give something to the team, I’d be happy to have players like that available.”
One sticking point over the potential inclusion of Stovell could be the Bermuda Cricket Board’s previous insistence on players agreeing to a strict fitness regime as a prerequisite to be selected in the squad.
While those stipulations remain in place, Odedra has quashed concerns over Stovell’s fitness while highlighting the greater significance of players possessing a higher skill level at this stage of the tournament.
“Those arrangements have always been in place because to be able to play any form of international cricket you have to be fit in order to give extra when it’s needed,” he said.
“Dion has always been kept in the programme. He was doing the training sessions weekly and is one of the fittest players.
“What I would say is that last year we had to work heavily on the fitness of the players, that’s a fact. That was always going to be the priority during the off-season, however over the past two months and while the season is being played there has been a shift to focus on skill set.
“The work in pre-season brings match fitness, but during the season it would be stupid to have the players still just running constantly, because it would be a greater injury risk.
“With the switch in focus we have cut down on that and want to concentrate on improving the skill set of the players both in batting and bowling.
“If you look at performances over the last two months we have had eight or nine national players performing extremely well, both in batting and also taking wickets, which is great to see.”