Will Luke at the World Cup Qualifiers 2009 April 13, 2009

No sympathy for Bermuda

It has been fascinating hearing from other teams, players and coaches about Bermuda’s stumble-and-fall from this competition and, without exception, not a single one of them has any sympathy. In fact, their responses have often been a mixture of envy and anger – anger that a team of handsomely-paid full professionals could consistently perform so poorly while they (be it Ireland, Namibia, UAE) all struggle on a pittance and yet outperform their higher-paid opponents. It’s unjust, but sport is often so. Scotland have begun professionalisation (they have three contracted players and promise to double that number should they qualify) while Ireland are also hamstrung financially and only possess semi-pros.

As an indicator to Bermuda’s apathy, one coach told me he saw many of their players either in the bar or, on the first night of their trip, in the local casino. Not the ideal preparation to qualify for the World Cup Qualifiers (WCQs), you might think, and you’d be spot on too. As Gus Logie told Cricinfo a few days ago, the desire and hunger just hasn’t been there. It’s all been a bit of a jolly for the past four years.

A couple of opposing players today sat mystified with Logie’s news that some Bermudans would rather play club cricket than toil with the honour of internationals. They shook their heads dismissively, one of them adding: “You look at their squad…you look at the team, and there’s just nothing much there really. No good players are coming through.” Their best player? Probably Dwayne Leverock. He may be famously large, but is considered their best bowler by opposing batsmen (and he’s a former hurdles champion, by the way).

It is a lesson, though, and not just for Associate cricket but for the ICC. Huge sums of investment (Bermuda received US$11m from its government) simply cannot buy success. Or, it seems, desire. The ICC, of course, are well aware that they can only do so much, as Richard Done told me last week. But the more time I spend with these players, the clearer it becomes that, Bermuda aside, the desire and hunger is absolutely rampant among them. The four who qualify for the 2011 World Cup will have a potentially winning combination of belief and money, and Bermuda’s four-year listlessness will look even more shameful.

Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo