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It’s about to get real: anticipation building for BPL and ICC tournaments

Smiles better: Justin Pitcher’s reinvention as an off spinner could prove trumps for Bermuda

We have pretty much got most of the big cricket out of the way domestically, with focus about to switch fully to the Bermuda team and our quest to again put the country on the global map. The next step on that pathway, which began with the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Sub-Regional Qualifier in Argentina in March, is the Bermuda Premier League starting on Wednesday.

Having teams from Antigua and Barbados on island to compete against our best is valuable preparation which should help to get us tournament-ready for the bigger challenge that awaits from Canada, Cayman Islands and Panama at the end of next month.

It’s an exciting opportunity for us as a nation. The two teams that are going to be coming are going to be fairly strong. We already know Barbados are carrying some pretty strong players are looking forward to the opportunity of testing ourselves against some of the best. From our standpoint, there are a few guys in there potentially looking to impress some people and put their name out there.

There could be a franchise opportunity potentially knocking around from Barbados with the Caribbean Premier League. You never know who is watching you at any time, but here players should be pretty aware of the chance to leave an impression. If that means also that Bermuda prospects are advanced, I’m all for it.

One of the possible surprises in the Bermuda team for cricket followers is Cejay Outerbridge. I know he hasn’t played much for St David’s the past couple of seasons and has been absent from the national set-up since 2018, but he has been consistent at training and has bowled pretty well. He’s someone that the coach definitely likes in that he offers something different with his left-arm seam, which you don’t really get too often. We’re looking to see how he goes in this tournament, to test himself against some quality batsmen. It’s another opportunity for someone to put their hand up.

There are two other St David’s players in the squad who we have high hopes of producing performances of note in the spin department. Everyone knows of the qualities of Derrick Brangman as a left-arm spinner who has been around the group for a while. But it is Justin Pitcher, a former Cup Match MVP as a strike bowler, who has turned his hand to off spin and may prove a trump card for us.

He tried it out in Argentina and got prodigious turn on those wickets. His conversion to slow bowling is something that we’ve talked about in depth — myself, the coach and a few of the other coaches. Not only that, he obviously offers something in the middle to lower order with the bat and he's also a very good fielder. It’s just one of those things of trying to get the balance of our team right, and making sure that we have all bases covered.

It cannot have gone unnoticed the clamour for one of the island’s finest players to be involved with the national programme — Dion Stovell. We all know Dion’s qualities, and he would be an asset to any team. It’s something that we have addressed as a group. But we don’t know. There is some time to go before the ICC tournament, and right now there is not really much we can say on it. We very well may have to move on without him. But let’s see.

In the meantime, we have this Bermuda Select XI who look pretty exciting. There are guys who have played for Bermuda previously, but also some who have the potential to get to the next level. There are some destructive players in there and I’m looking forward to the way that they gel together and hope they can get some positive results.

We are expecting two fairly strong teams out of the Caribbean and it’s another opportunity to test ourselves, to put our names out there, and to just have some fun. Playing for your country should be fun. Obviously, it’s going to be challenging at times, but it should be fun and a challenge that we’re all looking forward to.

I did mention that almost all of the big domestic cricket is out of the way. With emphasis on almost, as we have the small matter of the Eastern Counties final against Cleveland County on Saturday.

With these hurricanes knocking about, we at Bailey’s Bay are preparing as best we can. Hopefully, we are able to get in some practice so that if or when we play on Saturday we feel like we’re prepared. We know how strong Cleveland are and how strong they can be. With the individuals that they have in that team, it will be a big challenge. We’ve played them a couple of times already this season and done well, so it’s just about us doing what we have to do, or what we know we can do best. If we do that, I think we should come out on top.

Finally, before folks get it twisted having seen my name on the football transfer list, cricket remains my full focus. I played football way back when before I started cricket full time, so it’s something which I always enjoy and which I try to get in our cricket warm-ups actually. If there is a chance to be here a bit longer, playing for Paget Lions is something that I looked at. But it’s strictly a “just in case” sort of thing. It’s nice for fitness, but if our goal of qualifying for the T20 World Cup comes to fruition, I can’t see any of us taking the field to play club football.

• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith

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Published August 31, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated August 31, 2023 at 7:24 am)

It’s about to get real: anticipation building for BPL and ICC tournaments

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