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National pride comes at a price

As the winter months draw nearer and cricket goes on the back burner, the national team programme will start focusing on their plan for next year's ICC World Cricket League Division Four qualifiers.

Locally we have always had a problem trying to decide if quality is more important than quantity when it comes to our national squad.

In the past turn out for training has not been great, and surely with a tournament of this magnitude the coaching staff would be better off looking to secure the best players in Bermuda, not the most players in Bermuda.

Still, having been in and around the national squad for the last twenty-something years, I find it alarming that players opt not to play for their country.

I wonder if we, as a country, have failed our athletes by not emphasising the importance of national pride? In some cases it could be that there are underlying factors that prevent individuals from training, whether it is work related, or for personal reasons.

In any sport, playing for Bermuda the biggest accomplishment Bermudian can have, and we have to teach our young players that, so when they grow up they clearly understand the significance of pulling on a national team uniform.

When representing Bermuda at the highest level the word that keeps creeping into my mind is professionalism. If the players are made to feel special, you can then demand more from them. I would love to see the Bermuda national cricket team develop a trend, whereby when a player first plays for the country they are presented a cap prior to their first game.

If we are asking the players to gravitate to the programme we have to make it attractive for them. I recall several years ago going to watch Derbyshire play in England and I sat in awe watching the team arrive. Every last player showed up carrying their gear in the same style cricket coffin, with their name and club's name on the front of it. Something as simple as that opened my eyes, as they looked the part. The appearance as a team made me want to play cricket.

With so many different distractions these days cricket needs something to motivate the players to want to play, and help their country progress. Most of our players have financial issues the same as everyone else, and it is no secret times are hard in Bermuda.

As a result some players opt to work overtime than attend training, and can you blame them?

Growing up as a youngster in St George's playing for your country was hardly ever talked about. All I ever heard senior players talking about was Cup Match, and it is only in the last 15 to 20 years that playing for your country has become more prevalent in the East.

I look back to 2004 when I was first made captain of the Bermuda national team, and remember what an amazing honour it was to be named captain.

All I wanted was the best for Bermuda, and in my first meeting with the players I told them that nobody gives money to losers. If said that if we wanted to move cricket forward, and the financial support to improve cricket then we had to do something exceptional, such as qualify for the World Cup.

I told them: “Then and only then will we get monies for uniforms, gear, training equipment and whatever else was needed.”

So said, so done, as once the team qualified in 2005 sponsorship doors opened up for players, and the Bermuda Cricket Board received all sorts of funds to enhance cricket.

The reality is that together we must all do our part for the betterment of Bermuda cricket. The players must have a desire to get their country back to Division 2, playing highly competitive matches against other top associate members.

The country, meanwhile, must meet the players half way and make cricket, our national sport, once again appealing to them, so that they are willing to make the sacrifices necessary for us to put Bermuda cricket back on the map in a positive light.

In terminal decline: Bermuda are in Division 4 of the ICC World Cricket League

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Published October 09, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated October 09, 2015 at 2:33 am)

National pride comes at a price

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