Bermuda left searching for positives in defeat
Josh Ball, The Royal Gazette
Once again Bermuda have been left to look for positives in defeat.
Yesterday there were several to cling to, there were also some mitigating factors if they are so inclined to look at that sort of thing, but once again they contributed to their own downfall.
The cynical might suggest that looking at the positives is the last refuge of the loser. A role that Bermuda seem to have been consistently playing, more often than not, for the past two years.
However that would be to take too strict a view of the definition of success, whether you win or lose, and, for the time being at least, the positives, and the stage the team is at, are just about outweighing the continued losses, of which there have now been four in four games.
While 134 all out in 43.3 overs does not look great at first glance, it does not take into account a shocking pitch and some equally terrible umpiring.
Of the ten wickets that Bermuda lost against the West Indies High Performance team yesterday, only two were the batsmen's fault.
Rodney Trott dragged a ball from outside off straight into the hands of Jason Holder at mid-on when his side needed him to occupy the crease. And Tamauri Tucker was equally culpable, playing two shots in the air, one of which went for two runs into mid-wicket, and the second, a ball later, went straight down the throat of Brandon Bess in the covers.
The argument might also be made that Chris Foggo was partially responsible for his own inevitable demise, seeing as he tried to cut a ball that was far too close to his body and, not for the first time, was caught behind.
Foggo had played a similar shot several times during the course of the innings and got lucky as the ball flew just out of reach of a variety of fielders. However the delivery that finally got him out appeared to rise sharply after going through the surface and so that may have been a mitigating factor, if only a slight one, in his favour.
Delyone Borden (18), MalachI Jones (two) and Jim West (nine), however were all given out lbw, and all were victims of some awful officiating. Of the three, Borden's was the worst, given out to a ball that hit him on the pads so far outside off stumps that it wouldn't have hit another set of stumps.
Mind you, the decision only came after a lengthy appeal from West Indies bowler Keron Cottoy, and there was a slight suspicion that umpire Steve Samy allowed himself to be talked into a decision he might not otherwise have made.
The wicket accounted for the rest. Dion Stovell (31) lost his off stump to a ball that pitched short of a length and shot through at ankle height, while Jason Anderson (three) got a delivery that lifted sharply, hit the handle of his bat and lobbed to Nkrumah Bonner at square leg.
At 54 for two when David Hemp came to the crease the situation might have been salvageable, especially as Stovell was still batting at that time. But Hemp (four) went to drive a ball from Delon Johnson only for it to hardly get off the ground, take a bottom edge and fly through to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich.
Fiqre Crockwell (21) meanwhile was undone by a short pitched ball that never got above ankle height, and wrapped him on the pads when he was plumb in front.
Given that West Indies had managed to make just 117 on the same wicket in their previous 50 overs match against Canada, and that low scores have been something of a pattern on this tour, 134 was not so bad.
However, while West Indies had three fast bowlers, Johnson, Holder and Bess, who were tall, rangy, and brought the ball down from a great height, Bermuda had to make do with Jones and Kevin Tucker.
Not that Jones and Tucker didn't bowl well, they did, especially Jones who was back to his best. However neither is much over six foot, and so could not exploit the conditions as well as their counterparts did.
Which is not to say that the Windies batsmen didn't endure a few hairy moments of their own. They did, but they survived. And the wickets that they did lose were too few and far between to give Bermuda any real hope of winning.
Kyle Corbin (29), Devon Thomas (51) and Bonner (33) did most of the damage, and while West Indies collapsed from 119 for two, to 135 for five, the last three wickets were nothing more than consolation prizes for Bermuda. A stand of 68 between Thomas and Bonner for the third wicket ended the game as a contest and, in the end, West Indies won with 18.5 overs to spare.
The question then, is where are the positives in such a comprehensive defeat. Stovell's innings is certainly one, and given the circumstances under which he scored the runs, and the manner of his dismissal, where the innings he played was worth more than the 31 runs he ended up with.
Crockwell too has suddenly turned into the batsman that David Moore thought he was, and has repaid his coach's faith in him on this tour.
Jason Anderson's work behind the stumps continues to impress, and the smart stumping that got rid of Corbin went someway to erasing a missed catch earlier in the innings.
All three are undoubtedly Bermuda's future, and this tour, more than anything was about trying to figure out in which direction that lies. Some players, here and at home, are also becoming part of their country's past due in this tour, and that too is a positive, because it means there is now greater competition for places.
On the flip side, Bermuda produced one of their worst fielding performances in a long time yesterday, with old habits, like trying to stop the ball with their feet, and allowing it to go through their legs, resurfacing. None of the bowlers, Jones aside, was particularly consistent with the ball, and their can been little good in losing a game 20 overs from the end, no matter who the opposition is.
All these things might be viewed in a positive light, because they will all allow Moore to judge who is good enough to take the country forward.
For the time being however, the positives, such as they are, are taken against the backdrop of another heavy defeat, and in that case it's difficult to see them as anything other than straws to be clung to.