Bermuda's vice-captain Dean Minors has hung up his gloves after 15 years as the national cricket team's wicketkeeper.
The 37-year-old, one of Bermuda's most impressive performers at the World Cup, wants to stay in the game as a coach and an administrator and has targeted the top job at the Bermuda Cricket Board as his long-term goal. Minors officially confirmed his resignation in a letter to the board last week.
He told the Bermuda Sun it was time for him to move on and allow younger keepers like Kwame Tucker and Jekon Edness the chance to take the gloves. But he wants to put his World Cup experience to good use and will work with wicket-keepers at clubs and, if required, at national level to raise the standard across the country. He said he was also studying development programmes in other countries in a bid to help find the right formula for Bermuda as it looks to progress to World Cup 2011 and beyond. He thanked the board, his friends and team-mates over the years, his family and fans for their support and said he hoped he had left a legacy for other wicket-keeper/batsmen to follow.
Minors described the recent trip to West Indies for the World Cup as a fitting end to his international career. "Playing against Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff, Sachin Tendulkar - the history makers of the game - that was really something. I think the journey to the World Cup with the players and the administration, the highs and lows, will be something I'll always remember. For the first time in my life to be considered a professional on my own home soil - that's a feat in itself."
He added that everything he had done at the World Cup had been a tribute to his mother, Tonia Minors, who died at the end of last year, without realizing her dream of seeing him play on the world's biggest stage. "A lot of the things I was doing out there, I was doing for her. I never forgot her dream and a lot of my success was down to her prayers and her support."
Another memory that will stay with him forever is the home-coming, with hundreds of fans gathering at the airport to greet the team. "You look at what it is like in England and Austrlalia - they have that country pride. To come home and experience it for ourselves was amazing. We've had it in bits and pieces but that was like nothing I had ever seen before in Bermuda. I just hope it stays that way. I hope that could be the turning point for all sports in Bermuda - that we back our players, no matter what."
Minors added that he hoped those scenes would also be an inspiration to younger players. "I think with this current Government's commitment to sport there will be endless opportunities for players and there is no reason why, as a talented young cricketer, you can't get out there and represent your country."
But the journey does not end here for Minors. The St. George's Cup Match veteran wants to use his experience to help Bermuda make sure the World Cup was not a one-time deal. Having come so close in ICC qualification tournaments past in Kenya and Malaysia, Minors knows what a big deal it was to finally make it to the World Cup at the tournament in Ireland '05 (another unforgettable career moment).
And he is determined to make sure that, now Bermuda has a seat at the top table, it stays there. "Since I came back I've noticed the youngsters out playing cricket on the playground at Mullett Bay and elsewhere on the island. That's exactly what I was like coming up. All I wanted to do was play cricket and football. We have to make the most of the enthusiasm that is there for the game right now.
"I'd like to get on the board and play an active role in programme development and the whole restructuring of Bermuda cricket. Eventually I'd like to be CEO. Going to the World Cup has given me a motivation. We were given a golden opportunity to see how things operate at the top level, to see what different teams do. Our drive should be to get back there again. If we take a step back now, it will have all been in vain."
Minors said he was making it his hobby to study cricket development programmes across the world and make contacts with other players, coaches and administrators to find the best way forward for Bermuda. "We've got the Under-19 tournament coming up and we should be looking to go as far as we can with that - to the semis or beyond. We need to start setting our sights a bit higher, especially for the youngsters coming up."
Minors' own international career actually started at the Youth World Cup in 1988 when he was vice-captain on an Associates XI. His captain for that tournament was Zimbabwean Trevor Penney, now the Sri Lankan fielding coach. The pair reunited for the first time in 20 years at the opening ceremony in Jamaica.
Reproduced with permission of the Bermuda Sun