World Cricket League January 28, 2007

Underdogs Bermuda ready for a fight

Irvine Romaine: 'This team has the ability to raise itself when needed' © ICC
They may be the rank outsiders but, judging by the enthusiasm with which Irvine Romaine conducted the first press conference of the World Cricket League, the lack of expectation on Bermuda's shoulders might be a blessing in disguise.

"It's always an uphill battle but we can handle the pressure and we're up for it," said Romaine, at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi. "It's always been clear; our first objective has been to be the best in the Americas and we have gone some way to achieving that. Secondly, we want to be the best of the associates."

Bold statements from a beaming captain. Bermuda have had a poor warm-up to the WCL, however, losing both of their matches on a rain-interrupted tour of Trinidad earlier in the month. A timely win against Uganda yesterday has injected much-needed confidence, but the win was blighted by 27 wides.

"It was a good, confidence-boosting win," he said, "but there is room for improvement. Criticism is part of the game. We've lost to teams we shouldn't have lost to, but we've beaten others we probably shouldn't have. This team has the ability to raise itself when needed."

Unlike to the other five sides in the tournament, Bermuda's fans are not only excited by their side but disconcertingly expectant of victory and Romaine admits it can be a heavy burden.

"They have high expectations, they really do. I think it's in our culture. We qualified for the World Cup and, sometimes, they think we can win the WC. They don't see the full story - the media don't print it all - and they don't really know the level we're at right now."

Romaine proceeded to pose for photographers with the WCL trophy which, as one wag suggested, might be a portent of success to come in the next two weeks. Romaine's response to this gesture of optimism? "Absolutely! Practice makes perfect".

In complete contrast to Romaine's boyish enthusiasm, Steve Tikolo and Roger Harper, Kenya's captain and coach, were strangely subdued, almost diffident. In spite of their demeanour they remained confident, if flat-battish, about their chances in Nairobi and, later, for the World Cup in the Caribbean.

"We had a very good tournament in Mombasa gearing us up for this tournament," said Harper. "I'm not thinking about the World Cup. I'm focussed on the World Cricket League. Our objective is to take each game at a time, plan for them and the results will take care of themselves."

And he isn't willing to single out which team is their main threat: "I view each and every time as serious competition," he said. "All the teams taking part are very strong, very well prepared and we have to be up for every single game. Singling out one team would be a mistake; each team is a serious challenge."

Short but sweet, then. No one, least of all Bermuda, should misplace Kenya's cool attitude as a sign of trepidation or nerves. Keen to impress their home fans, whose view of the sport wavers from the fanatical to the hand wavingly indifferent, Kenya are acutely aware of the opportunity this tournament presents. How they react to the pressure of expectation will determine their success here in Nairobi, and probably in the Caribbean too.

Will Luke is editorial assistant of Cricinfo