April 11, 2009

Bermuda's blown chance

Their four-year stint at Associate level has come to an end and they don't look likely to be bouncing back anytime soon

So Bermuda's four-year flirtation with cricket's big time has ended, and perhaps fittingly, they departed the scene not with all guns blazing so much as with a parp, a shrug, and one eye on where that night's party was at.

Given much of what has happened since the ICC Trophy in 2005, few were surprised that Bermuda failed to retain their ODI status at the ICC World Cup Qualifiers. They managed one win, against Denmark, and never really looked able to keep up with the Associates big boys.

In fairness to Bermuda, they were a very small country punching above their weight. But great things were expected from the team when they made it to the big time. The local media went overboard at the prospect of Bermuda taking part in the Caribbean's World Cup in 2007, and the government pledged millions of dollars to help build up the national side.

But almost immediately, things started to go wrong. Players treated the qualification as a destination rather than a launching pad into the big time. Stories began to circulate about poor discipline and a lack of fitness.

At the World Cricket League in Nairobi a month before the World Cup, Bermuda were a shambles, and reporters were appalled at their general attitude to a high-profile warm-up event. At the World Cup itself, Bermuda looked little more than a pub side playing against professionals. The only real impact they made was with the image of 20-stone Dwayne Leverock's celebratory jig after taking a slip catch against India.

Thereafter, Bermuda lurched from one self-inflicted disaster to another. Attempts to set up a national two-day league failed because players simply didn't turn up. Gus Logie, the long-suffering national coach, was more often than not found lamenting his charges' failure to attend training. Allegations of drug abuse surfaced, and there were instances of infighting, both physical and verbal.

The Bermuda Cricket Board hardly covered itself in glory either. It failed to ensure there was a semi-decent playing surface on the island. For most of their four years as an ODI country, the team had to play away, as the ICC would not approve the national ground.

The board repeatedly clashed with its own players, often operated behind closed doors, and at the World Cup many of its members seemed preoccupied with ensuring they got tickets and hospitality rather than worrying about what was happening on the field.

The board is likely to implode in a sea of recrimination, and heads simply have to roll for allowing such a shambles to rumble on for so long when the warning signs were so clear to see

There were glimmers of hope in the last year, but they were too little and far too late. When they lost to Afghanistan, a result that almost sealed their fate, one senior player, rather than vowing to battle on and bounce back, shrugged and simply said: "Hey man, these things happen."

Given how they royally blew it when they had a chance, it is hard to envisage Bermuda bouncing back. The board is likely to implode in a sea of recrimination, and heads simply have to roll for allowing such a shambles to rumble on for so long when the warning signs were so clear to see.

Senior players will probably drift into retirement, and with ICC funding being reduced to a trickle, the incentives and infrastructure will undoubtedly suffer. If the prospect of playing against the best cricketers in the world in front of a global audience running into billions wasn't enough to galvanise the players, then it's hard to see how games against the USA and Cayman Islands will do much.

And so Bermuda head home, and few will miss them. If proof were needed that money was not the be-all and end-all, then here is a wonderful example.

Bermuda's one enduring memory from four years at Associate cricket's top table is that of an overweight man jiggling round an outfield after taking a catch. Sadly, the top tiers of the Associate game will not miss them, and whoever replaces them - and UAE have to be in the driving seat - can hardly fail to bring more to the party than Bermuda did.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • E on April 15, 2009, 20:58 GMT

    recman - don't shoot the messenger ... the various comments about Bermuda in recent years might not have been to your liking but that doesn't mean they weren't bang on the mark. If a few more people had listened to the criticism rather than bury their heads in the sand, like you, then the mess might have been resolved before it was too late. Your complete failure to even realise what a mess the national team and board are in is exactly why they will not bounce back.

  • Michael on April 13, 2009, 3:37 GMT

    Recman I agree with everything the author said. This team was doomed as soon as your heroes made it back into the team. Glenn "I got nothing to prove" Blakeney, Lionel "Show me the money" Cann and Janeiro "I didn't do it" Tucker. If it's 3 attitudes that break a team it is the player who goes in with nothing to prove, the player who is in it for the money and the player who believes that everything he is accused of doing or said is made up and a conspiracy against him. Lets just hope that your big three haven't totally polluted the younger players. The ones you have already pegged as ones to look out for.I'm sure cricketing nations around the world are scanning the horizon for this newest threat and will go running for cover at the mere mention of their names. All in all another in a long list of embarrassing results for the Bermuda National Cricket Team.

  • George on April 12, 2009, 10:56 GMT

    I am really trying my best to retain what little respect I have for Martin Williamson left, his consistent vicious tirades against Bermuda's cricket team prove his obvious bias against our national team. No matter what we have done in the last four years he appears to take delight in disparaging our cricket - although he has some things right I disagree with his bleak outlook for our future - Despite their obvious short comings the Bermuda Cricket Board have put into place an excellent development program, we have good youngsters graduating all the time, while a number of them such as S.Outerbridge, F.Crockwell, R.Trott and T.Tucker performed admirably this time around - I believe they can be a formidable force next time around whether or not Gus Logie is coach unfortunatelty injuries and the unavailability due to educational committments robbed us of at least four key players but when they return together with the youngsters we already have in the team look out!!!

  • David on April 11, 2009, 19:44 GMT

    While it's also true that Bermuda supporters won't miss your always vicious commentary on the nation's cricket team, much of what's said is quite true. The level of professionalism and pride of the team appeared to be so much lower than any of the other teams at the Qualifiers, it's as if the majority of the side simply felt that they could walk up to the crease and belt away any deliveries at will instead of playing true and proper cricket.

    Should heads roll at both the board and the national squad level? Almost certainly.

    While the youth programme still offers much potential, the facts remain that the volume of young players being groomed and developed are always likely to be well below that of other nations that have already surpassed or are trying to surpass us, and that's a discouraging thought.

    We have a lot to overcome, not least of which is the sense of entitlement and lack of discipline prevalent in the local game. Hopefully we can bounce back from these lows.

  • No featured comments at the moment.