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Bermuda’s tactics have been perplexing

If you read my column last week you would recall me saying that Bermuda national cricket team’s tactics will be one of the main factors in them being successful or unsuccessful in this tournament. Unfortunately, we have failed miserably with our tactical approach during this World Cricket League Division 3 qualifier. The coaching staff and captain/vice-captains are the ones responsible for making the crucial decisions, and I know there must have been debates regarding the tactical approach, but surely we should have done better in this area. While the coaches have to take the brunt of the blame, players too have to be held accountable for some shocking batting displays. Are we still able to muster up enough points to avoid relegation?

Bermuda v Uganda: In my opinion, we got it wrong for starters with our team selection. For weeks I have been trying to indicate and highlight the fact that National Sports Centre’s wicket takes a lot of spin. I didn’t want to spell it out that we should be opening the bowling with a spinner, but to me it was quite obvious. No disrespect to young Greg Maybury, but Delray Rawlins should have been selected for this match and they should have opened the bowling with Dion Stovell. Okay, so Delray wasn’t picked, but the game plan should have still revolved around the spinners. It is mind-boggling that Stovell who on all previous tours was one of our leading spin bowlers, but doesn’t bowl at all against Uganda on what is known as a spinner’s wicket. Can someone please help me to understand that? Obviously there was nothing wrong with his bowling arm as he bowled the next game against Oman, with figures of 10 overs, two wickets, for 41 runs. Politics surely had to play a part in this shocking and inexcusable tactical mistake!

Bermuda v Oman: It is not rocket science to know the importance of a having a good start in the batting department. Jason Anderson and Stovell opened the batting in the first game against Uganda and put on practically a 40-run partnership. However, in the next game Chris Douglas came into the side and was thrust into the opening spot position and we have had mediocre starts of 25 and 15. The talk about how Jason’s batting is too slow, only has validity in the middle of the order. What Jason does do at the top of the order is consolidate the innings and gives a foundation of which to build off from. Bermuda have yet to bat 50 overs, so therefore who cares if Jason is a little slow at the beginning of the innings. If Jason bats 50 overs and scores only 100 runs I can guarantee that the team will score 230 runs plus and in this tournament that will win you majority, if not all of your games.

Bermuda v Nepal: After what appeared to be a reasonable start at 77 for three Bermuda slumped to an unbelievable 106 all out, losing seven wickets for a mere 29 runs. This was absolutely dreadful and the players have to take full responsibility for a poor performance. Our third game in a row that we have failed to bat 50 overs, which in the end may cost us if teams are tied and it comes down to net run rate. Surely the coaches will have to make some changes and trust the youth to perform. How important is consolidation in a 50 over match? Example here: Bermuda 2005 World Cup qualifying campaign, Bermuda v UAE, and Bermuda bat first. OJ Pitcher and Delyone Borden open the batting and after 10 overs we only had 12 runs on the board, but they managed to see off the new ball, which was swinging all over the place and more importantly as a team we didn’t lose any wickets. Bermuda went on to score 225 runs and won the game. Our current Bermuda team has explosive batsmen like Lionel Cann, Janeiro Tucker, Malachi Jones, and Jacobi Robinson who can score runs in a hurry later in an innings, but we must build from the front. More importantly in limited overs you must bat your 50 overs out, which we have not done, so far. During tournaments of this magnitude lessons need to be learned early, but we seem to be well off the pace in that area. It has become painfully obvious that 200 runs on these wickets is a good total as they are difficult to bat on. My question is why is that, when our strength is our batting? Why did we prepare the wickets to take so much turn? Surely we had to remember that we had to bat on them too. Having exceptional spinners bowl on a big turning wicket will cause the best of batsmen trouble. Just ask the West Indies national team when they came to Bermuda and played at National Sports Centre. Bermuda bowled them all out for 140 odd runs. It is a commonly known fact around the world that Bermudian batsmen struggle against spin. So much so that most teams open the bowling with a spinner and carry no less than three to four spinners in their team when they play us. Our coaches should be well aware of this weakness through training and watching them bat for years. So why weren’t the groundsmen instructed on what type of wickets to prepare for our players? Why are all the wickets taking massive spin? The wickets these guys are playing on are simply not conducive for 50 over cricket. To put it honestly, they are appalling. One day cricket should be played on flat batting tracks with even bounce and very little, if any turn at all. One only has to go to Africa or UAE to witness the quality of the wickets Bermuda players have played on. Their training pitches are better than our game pitches so it doesn’t surprise me at all that all the teams are struggling when it comes to batting. We should have the confidence of home field advantage, but it is clear that we don’t. The opposition is decent, but nothing exceptional, and we as a country have played against much higher quality players and beaten them. This has me asking the question of whether or not some of the players’ minds are one hundred percent focused on what is at stake. If this is also noticeable to the coaching staff then have the courage to make brave decisions even if it is at the detriment of a ‘Big’ name player. Sometimes a good shake up can make all the difference. The fear of being dropped can change attitudes and performances. At the end of the day Bermuda must not get relegated. We have to do whatever it takes to survive even if it means beating USA in the final game. I want to wish the team and coaching staff the best of luck, keep your heads up and keep fighting right to the very end.

Quote of the week: I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed — Michael Jordan