July 9, 2005

'The greatest team success Bermuda has ever had'

After seven previous attempts to qualify for the World Cup - and having come so close before - Bermuda have finally made it. In 2007, they will line up alongside the world's elite to contest the World Cup - and become the smallest nation to compete there. Their manager, Elvin James tells Cricinfo what it means to this nation of 66,000 people for their team to have made it on to the world stage

What did it feel like when you defeated the US to seal qualification?
As we scored the 310 runs we figured that we knew the net run-rate would have been better than whatever happened in the Denmark match. But you get impatient. Still, when the last catch was taken the whole island erupted. The best moment was when an ICC representative came over to me immediately after and said, "Congratulations, you are going to the World Cup."

The players must have been delighted, of course?
The players were very excited. We huddled in the middle at the end and, as we had at the beginning, we gave a prayer of thanks. There was an outpouring of emotions. It was a wonderful feeling to huddle in the middle.

How does qualifying for the World Cup rank among Bermuda's sporting achievements?
It's probably the greatest team success that we have had in any of our sports. To be on the same stage as the world's elite is a tremendous achievement.

How did people react back in Bermuda?
We have heard that when the catch was taken the island came to a standstill. There were cars honking their horns. The whole island was excited about our achievement.

You now receive one-day status and $500,000 funding for development from the ICC
This will do wonders for the rebirth of cricket on the island. It is big. Financing and funding of the people coming through. They will offer incentive and motivation for our youngsters to get involved and buckle down.

And the World Cup is being held relatively near Bermuda?
It will feel great. We go down there for a lot of tournaments and it will be great to have our people come down and watch the Bermuda team instead of going there to watch other countries in Tests in the West Indies.

Do you think the current players will all be in the World Cup squad?
It's too early to say. There will be some changes there have to be. The players who have got us there will be vying to retain their spots, and the players at home will be trying anything they can to get into the World Cup squad. It will be good for cricket in Bermuda.

Bermuda have come agonizingly close to qualifying before - and yet never made it. Did you really believe you could do it this time?
Well, there were five spots up for grabs - where before there had been one spot or two spots. We knew that with five spots we could qualify: we thought, "This has to be our turn". There were so many who gave us so little chance and we have proven them wrong. We had a difficult group, with Denmark and UAE supposed to finish higher than us. So now, of course, we are delighted. For the rest of the tournament we will still be battling - we will battle to the end - but the real pressure is off. Anything else now is almost an anti-climax. We have qualified and that's when you can relax and say "Great."

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo