We’re good enough to qualify
It's qualifying time again. Will we be able to celebrate success this time around? The ICC Twenty/20 World qualifying tournament in UAE will not be easy, but success is still within reach.
With what looks to be a well balanced team one can say that our chances of qualifying are 50-50 as the style of the T/20 game boils down to utilising skills and tactics at the right time with the assistance of a bit of luck as well.
Our strengths must overcome our weaknesses if we are to be successful.
Bermuda will go up against Denmark first, then Hong Kong, Netherlands, Canada, Nepal, followed by Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan. This is quite a good draw for Bermuda. We should win our opening two games putting us in a very good position to face the Netherlands and Canada. If we can sneak one win from either one of these two games we should be set up for a mouth-watering final game with Afghanistan provided we win against the likes of Nepal and Papua New Guinea teams that should be a walk in the park for us.
However, we must not take teams for granted. We must concentrate and be tactically smart in all games. This group is so tricky that we could finish in the top two but a few mental and tactical errors could see us in the bottom two.
Looking at the make-up of our team our strength is in our all-around ability. Let us take a closer look at our team.
Captain David Hemp is a very good player in the longer version of the game and is not a natural T/20 player. However, what he does bring is experience. The big decision surrounding him is whether to open with him and look to let him bat the full 20 overs or bat him in the middle to combat the spinners, as he is one of the best batters of spin bowling in the team.
Dion Stovell will most likely open the batting and his aggressive style will be the catalyst for us having a big innings. The more games Dion gets us off to a good start the more likely we are to win games. His ability to score at a high run rate makes him one of the most dangerous batsmen in the tournament. He can also be used as a part time spinner as feedback from the last tour is that the wickets assist spinners quite a bit.
Lionel Cann would be my choice to open the batting with Dion. Together these two have the potential to form a lethal partnership. Lionel batting at his best is crucial to Bermuda qualifying. His ability to destroy any bowling attack is one of our best assets along with his experience in sticky situations. Since his return to the national team he has been the most consistent with the bat.
Stephen Outerbridge is useful in any team he is in. His game can adapt accordingly. He is definitely more suited for the longer version, like Hemp, but I have seen him transform his game to become a vital part of the line-up. He is a very confident player who will look to get amongst the runs. His ability to bowl will be an added bonus to the team from time to time.
Janeiro Tucker is a guy who can do it all and will be asked to do it all. He will play a crucial part to combat opposing teams' spinners in the middle of the line-up. Janeiro is very explosive and when he is on it is a close race between him and Lionel as to who is the most destructive. His variation as a bowler will be massive and so too will his experience of playing under pressure.
Fiqre Crockwell is a top order bat who has worked tremendously hard at improving his game. Fiqre has earned a right in the team through hard work and perseverance. He is a great utility player who can bat anywhere from one to seven in the team. Not naturally aggressive, but is able to adapt when needed.
Sammy Robinson has been brought into the team as an extra spinner as the wickets in Dubai are known for assisting spin bowlers. Not a natural T/20 player but definitely a team player who would do anything to help his team win. His quick running between the wicket and his sharpness in the field can prove to be important during tight matches.
Jason Anderson, the only specialist wicketkeeper in the team has worked hard at improving his T/20 game. He is normally a grafter, at his best when he takes his time and builds an innings. However, the coaching staff has worked hard with him to revamp his game for the more attacking style of play. Jason is rated highly as a wicketkeeper; his ability to talk to and guide our bowlers during the innings is a confidence booster when they are under pressure.
Kamau Leverock is the most fascinating player in the team. Young, aggressive and full of talent, he outside of the big three (Lionel, Janeiro, Dion) is the next in line in terms of explosiveness. He can do it all batting, bowling and fielding. Having been in England and had the opportunity to train indoors, the question will be how fast will he make the transition to more bouncy, turning wickets? A lot will be expected of the youngster but he will be more than up for the challenge.
Rodney Trott is the senior spinner in the team who can also contribute valuable runs from time to time. This tour will be more about his bowling than his batting though. His ability to bowl under pressure is vital. Rodney is a very intelligent cricketer with a wealth of knowledge and he will be called on to use all that he knows when things get tight. He may not be called on to bat too much, but there will be times when he is going to be needed and the hope will be that he answers the bell.
Terryn Fray is a player for the future. His game is more suited for the longer version of cricket but having been over in England training I am sure he has worked hard at being more aggressive. Terryn is very sharp in the field, a very coachable player with a tremendous future ahead. He will probably be asked to bat lower down the order than he is accustomed to, but being the team player that he is no matter where he bats he will give you his best.
Justin Pitcher is what I call the quiet assassin. On his day Justin can be a match winner. He has all the tools needed at this level. When Justin puts his mind to it he is one of if not the best fast bowler in Bermuda. Justin also offers us explosive hitting lower down the order. Something that will be much needed in this version of the game.
Joshua Gilbert, the youngest member of the team, is a very passionate player with a bright future. His ability to bowl offspin accurately will be invaluable to our success. Joshua will be under immense pressure and it will be interesting to see how he manages. Joshua is a coach's dream player, committed, eager to learn and disciplined.
Stefan Kelly is the leader of the bowling attack, the most senior member of the bowling team. He comes with vast experience in all versions of the game. The question is how much work has he been putting in to prepare for this tournament? If he shows up ready and prepared Bermuda could be in with a good chance. Stefan is no slouch with the bat either as proven this previous Cup Match.
Outside of the players, one of the most important ingredients for our success lies with the coaching staff. This is a game of constant pressure and coaches have to always be on their toes as the game can change from over to over. Who will they choose to open the batting? If most teams come at us with a combination of spinners as predicted, how will we cope with that? Will we stick to our normal batting line-up? Or will we try to bat a left hander with a right hander to help alleviate their threat. Will we open bowl with two seamers or will we use a spinner at one end? Coaches are going to have to be proactive rather than reactive to assure our success.
Overall, our preparation has not been the most ideal. Unfortunately we will not be playing any warm-up games so the cards are somewhat stacked against us. However, there is no room for excuses once the players step on the field of play. Our team is filled with players who have the capability to bat and bowl. We have an abundance of match winners in our arsenal or at least I think so, but it is not what I think it's what they the players think that matters. All we need is sound tactics, individual confidence and team unity.
I want to wish the team well and I am sure I can speak on behalf of Bermuda when I say go and do us proud leave it all on the field!
Quote of the week: The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination Tommy Lasord
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