I crave passion and emotion – but there’s a line not to be crossed
What happened at Hove last week between Sussex and Leicestershire may have been thousands of miles away, but the warning signs for us in the Bermuda team are very clear to see ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup Americas Regional Qualifier starting in nine days’ time.
A seemingly innocuous attempted trip by off spinner Jack Carson on the final day of a dramatic run chase triggered a series of events that led to a 12-point penalty plus bans for Carson, former captain Tom Haines, the captain Cheteshwar Pujara and seam bowler Aristides Karvelas.
The entire episode dampened all and any exuberance felt from the 15-run win over Leicestershire, who had been set a target of 499 and came perilously close before Indian overseas pace bowler Jaydev Unadkat swooped in to complete a six-wicket haul.
It was a great win; the sort of cricket game you want to be part of — a big one that’s coming down to the last couple of hours of day four. The overseas bowler showed why they invested the money in him for the two or three games he was there.
Initially, I wasn’t too sure of the reasoning why they were deducted 12 points, and was quite surprised when I looked at the table and saw they were sort of fourth or fifth after winning like that. But I learnt the fixed penalties for Carson and Haines took Sussex to four for the season, invoking the points deduction. The consequence of that is that the captain must also miss a match, which is hard on Puj, who tried his best to keep matters under control. That is the lot of a captain, though, as he is ultimately responsible for the conduct of his team.
I’ve been in a dressing room where we had to be cautious of that because we potentially could have missed out on quarter-final places in cup competition. I know that coaches are up to speed and always letting the players know where they stand and where the club stand in terms of receiving penalties. As a player you don't mean to or want to be the person that is responsible for it, but playing professional sport, any sport at that level and intensity, sometimes you might overstep the mark or get things wrong. I don’t know the exact reason as to why these things happened, but I’m pretty sure in a big game like that or coming down to the run-in to be promoted, sometimes your emotions do get the best of you.
You’re conscious of the captain having to pay the price for team indiscipline. The captain is a big part of the team — whether he’s a batter or bowler, wicketkeeper, whatever. Being the leader, you don’t want to lose him, especially when it comes down to crunch time. In the case of Sussex this week, not having several big players in the team for the match against Derbyshire is not ideal as well. The only blessing where they’re concerned is that the first two days have been rained off without a ball bowled.
We have a massive challenge before us here in Bermuda when the tournament begins next week, and I expect there will be times when it is very intense. I’ve always encouraged the boys to play with passion and an obvious desire to win. I enjoy seeing the emotion from the boys because that means that, 1, they’re invested in the game; and, 2, that they’re invested in wanting to win. But obviously we do stress to them that there is a line that we don’t want them to cross. Especially in T20 cricket, every moment in the game is big and every player that is selected in the game for me is big. So to potentially lose players through a suspension or anything like that won’t be ideal.
We must control our emotions at any given time. There may be a period in the match where things get intense or things get tight and you can see tempers rising. Can you be the person that controls your emotions if a decision doesn’t go your way? Nine times out of ten, the way cricket goes, there’s always another opportunity around the corner to take a big catch or you might have a big over to bowl. It’s definitely something that the national team have improved on. There is an opportunity for us to go and play higher level of cricket, and obviously our behaviour will be under the microscope more often because more games will be livestreamed and on TV.
It would not be right to sign off without sending out further best wishes to Noel Gibbons, who is convalescing in hospital after a health scare. Noel is not only a legend at Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club but for all of Bermuda. He still plays a big role at the club and the cricket programme, so to see him going through what he’s going through isn’t a nice feeling for us as players. We’ve been sort of channelling our emotions and using it as motivation.
We have a big weekend ahead and potentially another trophy on the line for a clean sweep this year. We have had a few positive messages from Noel, who has said good luck and keep fighting hard. It would probably be a good a thing for us that, if we keep winning or do win the league, it is something that could bring him into some good spirits and return him to full health a bit quicker.
• Delray Rawlins was talking to Dexter Smith