Is our team good enough to qualify for T20 finals? Yes!
This past week Bermuda Cricket Board announced their Twenty20 squad which will be heading off to Dubai for World Cup Qualifiers in mid-November. There will be two groups of eight bidding for six World Cup qualifying places.
In order to get to the play-off stage you must finish in the top five in your group. However, the top team in each group automatically qualifies, leaving the remaining teams to fight it out via a play-off competition.
Bermuda's main goal should be to, first and foremost, seek to finish in the top five. This is a must if we are to have any chance. Is this a realistic goal considering the quality of teams in our group? Yes, I believe it is proving we have a solid game plan from which we can seek to execute.
In our group there are the ever dangerous Scotland team, the reliable Netherlands team, the unpredictable Denmark team, the aggressive Papua New Guinea team, the ruthless Afghanistan team, the vastly improving Nepal team and last, but not least, the devastating Kenyan team — a very tough group, definitely the tougher of the two groups but with it being T20 anything can happen.
In our team recently announced there were a few surprises.
Whenever a team is selected one thing is for certain you will never please everyone. However, I am a strong believer that people who put their work in should be rewarded because names do not win matches.
Hard work, focus and application help to win matches. I am to assume that any player that got selected did so based on these principles and I congratulate them.
Three interesting faces to the squad are Kwame Tucker, Allan Douglas Jr. and Kamal Bashir.
Kwame returns and his versatile batting will be a massive bonus to the team.
Allen is raw talent waiting to erupt and it will be interesting to see how he makes the transition from a club player to a national player as I have no doubt he has the ability to do so.
Kamal, to most, is relatively unknown but he plays his cricket at Willow Cuts and is a very useful bowler who is no slouch with the bat either.
There is no secret, you can sit down and pick a full squad of eleven players of who could be there and some very big names at that, but names do not win matches. Whoever is not there is not there, the show must go on.
Back in 2005 when we qualified there was no Glenn Blakeney, no Charlie Marshall and on top of that I pulled a hamstring in the first game against Ireland, which meant we were without three of Bermuda's prize batsmen at that time, but we still qualified.
How one may ask? Because the team was united, we were focused and we believed in each other that it was our time. This team can do the same.
In Janeiro Tucker Bermuda has a captain who is a born winner. The team must feed off of his ability and passion. Janeiro has the experience and the backing of the players, which will help bring team unity, thus giving us a real chance.
Some may think I am being contradictory to what I wrote in a previous article when I said the BCB should look for a younger captain to lead us, but no I am not.
That statement was made simply based on the fact that the BCB restructured the season around developing. So if we are developing for the future then why change. Reality is there is no way we should have changed our league structure in a year when we are trying to qualify for the T20 World Cup.
We needed to have our best players playing against each other week in and week out to give us a realistic chance of qualifying.
Basically, we are setting our players up to fail. You are asking our national players to play in a very low, poor standard of cricket all year and then expect them to turn around and be competitive against quality international players.
Some of whom, may I make it clear, play county cricket week in and week out. So a player must go from getting three or four bad balls an over to getting maybe one an over and having to figure out ways to score off of the good balls. May sound easy, may even look easy, but trust me its not when the pressure is on.
Our Bermuda squad will be going on a pre-tournament training camp to the USA and while there we must devise a game plan that suits our strengths.
Personally, knowing the players inside and out there are two ways that we should look to play. One would be to open with Hemp and look to let him bat right through, while others look to be aggressive around him.
The other way would be to blast from ball one trying to maximise the power play in the first six overs.
Which style suits us best?
The best route for us I feel is to attack from ball one. I would either look to open with Chris Douglas and Lionel Cann, or all-out attack with Dion and Lionel.
Most teams will open with at least one spin bowler against us, and Lionel's ability to attack the spinner could be an asset and help us get off to a flying start, which is what we will need if we are really going to compete against these top teams.
Regardless, when we go to USA and play practice matches we must find a formula that works and stick with it. Every player must buy into the game plan and go out there and look to execute game after game.
Bermuda will be looked upon as an easy win by some of the top teams but we can definitely spring a few surprises if we just apply ourselves.
Getting into the top five is our first mission. That means we must beat Nepal, Denmark and Papua New Guinea and if we can sneak a win from any of the top four big teams that will be a bonus. After that its sudden death and anything can happen.
Right now the players must continue working hard, put in extras and eat, drink and sleep cricket. When it is all over there must not be NO regrets. Each player must know that they gave everything that they had for their country.
If our players can do that I have no doubt we can be successful. The question is how bad do we want it and what are we willing to sacrifice for it?
Quote of the week: Losers visualise the penalties of failure, but winners visualise the rewards of success — Rod Gilbert.