Bermuda’s quest to qualify for the Under-19 Cricket World Cup begins today in Toronto at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club as they take on the United States — one of the favourites in the Under-19 World Cup Qualifier Americas Region.
Along with the host nation Canada, each team will play each other twice with the winner advancing to the 16-team Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand in January 2018.
The squad arrived in Canada a week ago to get acclimatised and although the weather forced them to train indoors on a few occasions, Clay Smith, the Bermuda head coach, was grateful to the Bermuda Cricket Board for giving the players the opportunity to bond and work on more technical aspects of their game.
He felt that the week was a necessary part of properly preparing for a major tournament — evidenced by the fact that the US also arrived a week ago.
“The preparation has been spot-on,” Smith said. “I think we’ve covered all our bases and the boys are up for this.
“I have no reservations about their ability. I know that they can play at this level.
“For me it’s whether or not they are mentally ready to play at this level considering that the average age of our team is 15 years old, playing in an under-19 tournament.”
With Canada and US winning seven of the past eight Americas region under-19 tournaments between them (Bermuda won in 2007) Smith is realistic about the island’s chances.
“If we play to our potential we can come out of this with a few victories and that would be a great accomplishment especially for these guys being so young,” he said. “They’ve worked hard and want to do Bermuda proud. I have no doubt that they’re going to leave it all out on the field and that’s all I can ask of them.”
Smith is being supported by assistant coaches Lorenzo Tucker and Reggie Tucker, with Russell Richardson the team manager.
Dalin Richardson (captain), Nzari Paynter (vice-captain), Alje Richardson (Somerset), Dean Simons (St David’s), Cameron Jeffers (UK), Jabari Darrell (UK), Jade Morrissey (Somerset), Marcus Scotland (Surrey, UK), Najiyah Raynor (Cleveland), Nirobi Mills (Bailey’s Bay), Q’Shai Darrell (Cleveland), Solomon Burrows (UK), Rudi Butterfield (UK), Jaiden Manders (Western Stars)
Officials: Russell Richardson (manager), Clay Smith (head coach), Lorenzo Tucker (assistant coach), Reggie Tucker (assistant coach).
Schedule: Today: Bermuda v US; Tomorrow: Canada v US; Wednesday: Bermuda v Canada; Friday: Bermuda v US; Saturday: Bermuda v Canada; Sunday: Canada v US