20-20 World Cricket Classic

Old boys enjoy their days in the sun

Rod Gilmour in Hamilton

April 30, 2006

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Dwayne Leverock: Bermuda's 19-stone hero © Cricinfo
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Bermuda is famed for its onions and it was the host nation who were left wiping their eyes in disbelief after South Africa racked up a mammoth total in the final, which ultimately saw them lift the inaugural World Classic Twenty20 trophy at the weekend.

South Africa coach Clive Rice had a fines meeting after each of their games - the former Nottinghamshire man clearly losing none of his enthusiasm of instilling the competitive edge witnessed during his playing days. It worked too as Bermuda finished on a respectable 169 for 9 in reply to South Africa's impressive 266 for 5.

The stars of the week, however, were opening duo Steven Jack, renowned more for his bowling in his days with Transvaal, and Gary Kirsten, who amassed 461 runs between them in their three matches; left-hander Kirsten's blistering 134 not out off 63 balls against New Zealand and his 103 in the final giving the PA the hardest job of the week in keeping up with the tunes after each boundary had been bludgeoned.

"Jump up Bermuda, Jump Up" rang out the PA at one point, but it was the local crowd, numbering 5,000 on finals day, who had to duck as South Africa's pair hit out. Jack reached his 100 off just 40 balls as South Africa put on 180 for the first wicket, well inside 15 overs. And when the closing ceremony fireworks had died down, it emerged that 127 sixes had been smashed in the tournament's 10 matches.

Under the Get Fit Foundation's (GEFF) premise of trying to "build bridges between the couch and sport", the legends on show put up a decent showing for the organisers throughout the week, despite the old boy tag coming into effect; players pulling up in the first over, the Australians early lackadaisical running, and batting becoming second nature as bowlers tired during their allotted four overs.

But as the competition wore on so did the performances, the players' fun subsiding as serious cricket began to break through. Joel Garner's 3 for 17 against India was one early highlight, while his 3 for 9 in the plate final earned him the Classic's bowling award, as Australia lost seven wickets for 11 runs. Ryan Campbell's 100 not out and three wickets against Sri Lanka was also a worthy highlight.

Such was the competitive nature, England coach Neil Foster even asked Keith Pont, the GEFF event organiser, if his boys could come to practice a full two hours prior to their crunch semi-final game against Bermuda. They didn't keep their promise though and Bermuda won a last-ball thriller, as Robin Smith and Bill Athey tried in vain to score 14 from their final over. Heavyweight left-arm spinner Dwayne Leverock was the semi-final hero as his three wickets propelled Bermuda into the final: the island policeman, weighing in at 19 stones, going on a rumbling glory-run with each English victim.



Bermuda and South AFrica line up before the final © Cricinfo
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The first day of the Classic also set the precedent for the week, after which the Australian team even apologised for sending what they believed was a weak team as they advanced to the plate knock-out. We saw Aravinda de Silva and Arjuna Ranatunga, gracing a scorecard once more, with those well-placed singles, Garner and Colin Croft conjuring up some excellent end-to-end bowling, Chris Lewis losing none of his rhythm and Ian Healy's routine stumpings.

Much had been written of Bermuda's first-team participation in this tournament and it was a no-win situation in the Royal Gazette's eyes by the time they started their first match against West Indies; win and it was only against the old boys, lose and cop flack before the World Cup. However, coach Gus Logie's troops will have learnt from this work-out as he prepares his players - picked from the island's 60,000 population - for the biggest year of their lives.

In all, the week highlighted that there is a place for Masters Cricket in Bermuda, to run alongside the island's annual Classic Rugby event. The public finally got to see their stars after an endless road of playing international cricket abroad, while Bermuda's involvement has also given the competition much credibility and support, which could see further quality next year. The Waugh twins have been mentioned and it could entice even more star players, once word gets round from the players on show here that this was a week not to be missed.

It was just left to Healy to sum up. "The camaraderie between the players has been unbelievable all week - a chance to catch up with everyone. The tournament was a success before it even started I think. There has been so much effort on the players to be here and it is probably something we should be doing more of - I think that is the reason why we are all here really."

Rod Gilmour is Nobok Sports' cricket editor. Channel 5 will broadcast a highlights programme in May. For more information on the Get Fit Foundation: click here

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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