Bermuda whitewashed in a one-sided affair
Josh Ball, The Royal Gazette
It is difficult to know where to start with what is wrong with Bermuda cricket at the moment. It might be easier to start with what is right, and that list is an incredibly short one.
For the time being it can be limited to three items: Potential, of which there is plenty. Belief, which coach David Moore has to have otherwise he'd be going home on the next available flight. And hope. Hope that things cannot possibly get any worse than they are right now.
Still, there is something badly wrong with Bermuda cricket at the moment, and it's going to take a titanic turnaround for this team to come close to challenging at the Division Two qualifiers in Dubai next April.
After a weekend of hammerings, Bermuda lost twice more to United Arab Emirates yesterday, and not even in Twenty20 cricket could they touch the tourists, who completed a five-nil whitewash with worrying ease.
"They (the players) have certainly shown us enough not to be disheartened, or I'd be on going home tomorrow," said Moore.
"I think we can do stuff, but the qualifying tournament is in April and it's going to take a lot of hard work, and commitment. Let's be honest, we haven't come close to any of the teams that we have played who are in the I-Shield Division.
"We haven't come close to Uganda, Namibia or UAE, and they are our benchmarks, and if we're not coming near them, there is something drastically wrong. There is going to be a lot of hard work to remain in Division Two there is no doubt about that, a lot of hard work."
In the first game yesterday, in which UAE squeaked home by a mere 21 runs, the statistics will suggest that Bermuda came close to chasing down the 178 that the visiting team scored.
And while David Hemp (46) and Stephen Outerbridge (43*) got their side near to the required total, none of the other batsmen passed 20, and you always felt that UAE's bowlers had another gear if necessary.
Normal service was resumed in the afternoon however, and UAE romped to a 101 run win as Bermuda crumbled to 87 all out in 17 overs. Opener Amjad Ali beat that on his own, crashing 105 off 61 balls, and he now joins the very small list of batsmen who have scored Twenty20 centuries in international cricket.
Ali's name sits alongside the likes of Chris Gayle (117), Brendon McCullum (116*) and Mahela Jayawardene (100) who have also achieved the feat. And while they will have scored theirs against vastly better bowling attacks, Ali's achievement should be celebrated nonetheless.
"It's definitely a special moment," said Ali. "The credit also goes to the coach (Colin Wells) who helped me sort out some shots that I was playing in the air and I have started playing a little more straighter now.
"I am very happy to be in the same list as these batsmen, it is a very big thing for me. I scored 77 against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, these two (innings) are the ones I rate the highest."
The UAE opener and Swapnil Patil put on 117 in 12 overs for the second wicket, and at 136 for two off 14 overs, UAE should probably have made 200. That they didn't said much for the way Bermuda's bowlers stuck to the task, even if it was more out of sheer bloody-mindedness than anything else.
Still, it was the only fight Bermuda showed in the second game, and the way they then capitulated with the bat was more indicative of their performances overall. Only Outerbridge (26) and Crockwell (25) got passed 10, and Crockwell slightly tarnished his performance by running out Terryn Fray, without Fray facing a ball.
Frustratingly, individuals have shown flashes of talent in all the games played in this series, but the inconsistencies, the inability to concentrate for long periods, or short periods come to that, and the general naivety in the team have over-ridden all that.
Once again the spinners did all the damage for UAE, and of the 16 Bermuda wickets to fall yesterday, 12 went to the slower bowlers.
Ahmed Raza, who was a constant thorn in Bermuda's side over the five games took two for ten from three overs in the final game, while Shadeep Silva took three for 19.
The high point for the home side yesterday came at the end, when the games had finished and they could finally consign this past week's cricket to the dustbin of history.
Moore though saw enough to remain hopeful that he can turn things around in the near eight months he has before the next big test for the national team.
"This is going to be the frustrating thing for me, is that we can see the talent is there. But it is a matter of getting the consistent performance, which is only going to come through hard work and commitment.
"In fairness to them, I've only been on the Island a short time, and we've only been working on playing games, but now we've got to get back (to basics) and get to the situation where we are re-building some blokes' techniques because the majority of these guys have come into this team unprepared.
"Unprepared through their progress up the underage teams, and unprepared from playing in club cricket. There are some things that guys do that they shouldn't do, through no negligence of coaches, they get into bad habits, so we'll go and look at their set-up, their head position, their feet, their hands, and go from there."