Malachi Jones furious after mother’s health used as excuse for Bermuda axing
Being denied an opportunity to bow out of international cricket in front of his home crowd has left Malachi Jones devastated.
Jones, 34, has announced his retirement from the national team after he was left out of the squad for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Americas Regional Qualifier, which starts on Saturday.
A member of Bermuda’s team at the 2007 World Cup who has played 30 times for his country, Jones is unhappy with coach Niraj Odedra’s reasons for his omission, which included the health of his mother.
“It’s not the ending I was anticipating,” Jones said. “I wanted to bow out in front of a home crowd.
“The coach called me and told me that I had been dropped. He said to me they [other selectors] felt that I wasn’t showing enough energy on the field. They heard my mother was in hospital and they felt I wasn’t in the right state of mind to play in such a tournament.
“My mother has been in remission for 20 years and she’s always had complications. I don’t understand why they used her, as my mum has been in out and out of hospital since I was 11, before I even started representing the country.
“I have represented the country many times when my mum has been in hospital and this time is one of the lower levels. There is no real major surgery or anything like that. She has beaten breast cancer so you can imagine the amount of surgery she had to go through during my international career, but now they’re going to use this to end it.
“My mum’s been sick my whole international career and this is the first time I have heard anything about it, so I know it’s something that they used to get rid of me, and it’s wrong.”
“They didn’t even have the conversation with me after I told them I was available for the tournament.”
It’s fair to say that Jones was surprised by the squad decision after he says captain Delray Rawlins had talked with him in detail about the part the all-rounder was to play in the side during the tournament, while the presence of older players is also not sitting well with Jones as his age was also cited as a factor.
“They’re saying they’re going with a younger team but you have two guys older than me [Derrick Brangman and Allan Douglas Jr] and even the two standby players are older than me [Justin Pitcher and Jacob Albertze].
“Delray had spoken to me at length about the kind of role he wanted me to play for this tournament. We spoke about my death bowling and I think I've done really well as a death bowler.
“Delray called on the day the team was announced saying he had tried everything he could to convince them, but it seems the selectors had already had their minds made up.”
Instead of being a player, Jones will now be a spectator for the tournament’s opening match on Saturday.
“I don't know if I’m going to be there for the entire tournament,’’ Jones said.
“I’ll be there on Saturday but I think I’m going to end up flying out with my mum. Things work out in mysterious ways. She’s going overseas for some rehab, so I might as well get on the [air] ambulance with her.
“Things were in place, as my aunt was going to go for there for the initial phase and I was going to go after the tournament to relieve her.”
As he walks away from the international game, most people would think Jones’s biggest moment came at the age of 17 when he dismissed Robin Uthappa with his first ball at a World Cup, but he also nominates qualification for the 2008 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup as a highlight after he bowled the last over when Bermuda beat Canada by 13 runs in Toronto
“Beating a Canadian team to qualify for the 2008 Under-19 World Cup stands out for me,’’ Jones said.
“Canada were already making all these big plans and we denied them a spot at the World Cup. That is why I wanted to play against Canada in this qualifier.
“My lowest moment has to be 2011 in Dubai when I suffered a side strain after bowling and couldn't do anything to stop Bermuda from getting relegated to Division 3.
While international cricket is now over, Jones plans to extend his record of appearing in 17 consecutive Cup Matches until 2026.
“It’s going to be hard retiring from Cup Match because of the love and passion you get from half of the island,’’ Jones said.
“I’m definitely not playing past 2026, but I might stop before it. If they allow me to reach that feat, 2026 is the end goal.
“Retiring from Cup Match is going to be tougher than walking away from the national team. It sounds crazy but watching players go through things in the national team, it’s not the best environment to play in, especially in the last ten years.”