ICC Winter Training Camp December 22, 2005

Bermuda can reap winter benefits

Steven Outerbridge in action for the ICC Winter Training Camp XI, © Touchline
ICC Winter Training Camp (WTC) Head Coach Andy Moles is convinced the whole of Bermuda cricket will benefit from the presence of four of their players in Pretoria.

"This has been a real success for Bermuda," said Moles, reflecting on the presence of Jekon Edness, Jim West, Steven Outerbridge and Azeem Pitcher at the residential camp for players from the six Associate countries to qualify for the 2007 World Cup.

"These players might not jump straight into their national side but if they continue to show the improvements they have shown here then they will certainly be in contention. And if they can persuade a large percentage of their team mates back home about the benefits of what they have done in South Africa it will help the whole of their squad."

The scope to broaden Bermuda's playing base is limited by the fact the county's overall population is just 68,500 but the hope is that base can still be widened if the players are able to put into action some of the skills they have learnt at the WTC.

"They have all done their Level 2 coaching course so they are going home with a qualification," said Moles. "If they can go back not only with their improved levels of performance but also able to work with youngsters and pass on their skills then that has to benefit Bermuda cricket. It is a perfect illustration that the ICC's Development Program (started in 1997) is not just about playing but also infrastructure, like coaching, too," added Moles.

The WTC has been made up of 23 players from not only Bermuda but also Canada, Kenya, Ireland, the Netherlands and Scotland and the Bermuda players have been among the most popular members of the group according to Moles.

"They have all worked hard, enjoyed the experience and everyone here has enjoyed their company," he said. "The fitness and training was a bit of a culture shock for them all at first and they struggled, they would all probably admit that, but they all really bought into the regime. That showed when everyone had their fitness tested about 10 days ago, a follow-up to the test they did when they arrived, and the Bermuda lads showed great improvement. They have been very enthusiastic and attentive and I would even go so far as to say that, as a group, they have benefited the most from the last 11 weeks."

Bermuda captain Clay Smith was involved in the camp at the start in a coaching capacity and even though he could not stay for the whole 11 weeks Moles felt he would have picked up enough in his time in Pretoria to make it a worthwhile exercise. The hope now is that Smith, together with the other Bermuda players attending the WTC, can pass on the positives from their experience in South Africa to coach Gus Logie and the rest of the squad back home.

Moles offered the ICC his assessment of the progress the Bermuda players have made at the WTC.

Jekon Edness - In the same way that Kenneth Carto, the Canada wicketkeeper, has benefited from this camp so the same is true of Jekon. He arrived here as a player who kept once a week but now, after 11 weeks of catching balls every day, fitness work, pilates and stretching he will go home a totally different `keeper and person and Bermuda will see that. As a batsman what we have tried to do is make him aware of his plus points rather than focussing on what he can't do. We have looked to get him to play in his areas of strength and we saw the benefit last week when we played a match and he saw his side home by working the ball around off the seamers and spinners.

Jim West - Jim has been a fantastic team man and has also improved out of sight, a fact recognised by his fellow players as they voted him the most improved player of the WTC. He has worked so hard. He has been laid low by injuries but has battled through them and given everything to everything he has done. With his bowling he has done great work with Bob Cottam (WTC bowling coach) to change his action. He has not added all that much pace but what he has done is add a great deal of control. As for his batting, when he arrived he just tried to hit every ball for four or six but now we have shown him all about shot selection and batting in partnerships, especially if there is a recognised batsman at the other end. Jim has developed so much on this course and it has been a pleasure to have him here.

Steven Outerbridge - Steven's a top-order batsman and a more senior player than some others at the WTC. Initially he had a few problems knowing where his off stump was and also falling over to the offside by over-balancing. He has shown himself to be a good listener who has worked hard and now, I think, he knows what it will take for him to build big innings on a regular basis. He has improved as a fielder as well but now it is a case, as with so many others here, of him going on and proving he can put into practice what he's learnt here. He was especially keen to work on his play against spin bowling and a block or slog approach is a common failing at Associate level instead of players backing themselves to work the ball into gaps. He has definitely improved in that area and has also learnt the art of playing the sweep shot.

Azeem Pitcher - Azeem has really worked hard and you rarely saw him without his notebook, whether it was a psychology briefing, the Level 2 coaching course or even a net session - he took notes on everything. He is a very dedicated and organised cricketer. Like Stephen, a fellow left-hander, he had a problem falling over to the off-side and over-balancing but along with Stephen we have worked to ensure they keep their heads up and don't look to play around their front pads. He made a classy 60 not out in a match last week and I got the impression he really does understand how to go about playing well now. The understanding of his game is there and in that innings he was able to see the benefits. Azeem was not able to bowl very much because of a shoulder injury but, typical of him and the rest of the Bermuda guys, he showed himself to be a great team man. He was always one of the first to make drinks for fellow players and he also made sure that shoulder injury did not stop him working hard on other areas of his fitness.