Cricket

Smith jumps before he is axed as Bermuda coach

  • Sad ending: Clay Smith says the last straw for him was being excluded from a meeting for which he had laid much of the groundwork (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Clay Smith has resigned as national cricket coach, almost three months after his contract expired this summer.

Smith, who took over from Arnold Manders in December 2015 and briefly combined the job with coaching club team Cleveland County, wrote the Bermuda Cricket Board on Tuesday, having been kept in limbo over whether a new contract would be offered.

“Initially, I was waiting to see what happened but was merely told that the High Performance Committee will be meeting and all will be revealed in November,” Smith told The Royal Gazette last night. “That’s all I was told.”

Ultimately, he decided to jump before he was pushed.

Smith cited two tours by the Bermuda team — to Los Angeles in 2016 and to Malaysia this spring when the country was relegated to the lowest level of international cricket — as factors in his decision not seek to renew a contract that expired on July 7.

In an open resignation to the Bermuda public, Smith revealed a laundry list of items that seemed to work well in advance of and during the Los Angeles tour, despite promotion to World Cricket League Division Three being just beyond their reach.

That was the last senior tournament that both Delray Rawlins and Kamau Leverock were available, the latter enhancing his profile as a hard-hitting opening bat after he was promoted because of injury to Terryn Fray.

Less than two years later, though, Bermuda’s tour to Malaysia was a shambles, the wheels coming off even before a ball was bowled, with Leverock dropped for two matches because of a training-ground bust-up. Relegation appeared inevitable, even though Leverock once reinstated, captain Fray and retiring Janeiro Tucker did their playing reputations no harm.

Smith said that the group lacked proper preparation, the coaches and manager having to pay for the airfare of Reggie Tucker, the specialist fielding coach, so he could travel to Argentina for the World T20 ICC Americas Southern Sub-Regional.

One player, Smith said, had a 95 per cent training attendance but had to be routed through England for travel purposes and was told by the BCB that it would not pay the additional cost for his ticket.

“Hence, he was to be replaced, but captain Terryn Fray purchased his own ticket using his AA miles so that the player in mention could use the additional funds and be permitted to travel,” Smith said.

“I requested that two to three UK-based players be sent to Argentina for the 50-over matches so they could be assessed before the final selection, which was one week after we returned, but this was denied. I requested that the UK-based players be brought home to train for two weeks before going to Malaysia, but this, too, was denied.”

Other concerns by the former coach included Terry Fray being removed as manager, a selector and from the High Performance Committee with no meeting or explanation. The selection committee, he said, was dismantled a week before the team went to Argentina and playing kit ordered by the team was too small.

Smith also revealed that he was left to pay the entire $1,700 for his airline ticket to go to the Caribbean to take a Level 3 coaching course.

The last straw came a week ago when Smith said he was not invited to an important meeting at board headquarters. “There was a winter academy meeting to discuss the upcoming winter programme, a programme, which I helped to operate for the last three years, but I was not invited to the meeting,” he said.

Smith added in his open letter: “It is with great sadness that I inform you, the Bermuda public, that I will no longer be working with the Bermuda Cricket Board, indefinitely.

“With my contract ending July 7 this year, I took the summer off to reflect on what transpired in Malaysia. As a coach I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the tournament, with the Bermuda senior cricket team being relegated.

“My decision to walk away now is not an easy one, as coaching one’s country is the ultimate achievement and honour for any coach. Unfortunately, things drastically changed over the last year, as the lack of support was obviously evident.

“The lack of professionalism was the worst I have ever witnessed in my 20 years of cricket involvement with the national team, as a player and coach. One can look at the two tours and see the vast difference in preparations, hence the results were different.

“I can understand that the board has been mindful of wanting to cut back on costs, but to do so jeopardised the senior team’s possible success, and my possible future as the national coach.

“Hopefully, the board will see fit to back whoever is the next head coach and provide that individual with the support needed to be successful. I will watch from afar with hopes that there will be improvement in how cricket is run. Who knows what the future may hold?

“Again, thank you, the Bermuda public, for your support. I wish the new coaching staff, the players and the board all the best moving forward.”

Smith, who had a stint as a player for Warwick Workmen’s Club last season, has had offers to coach at club level again this season.

“I am looking at coaching club cricket again and have been in talks with one club, and hope to have that sealed as soon as possible,” he said.

A call to Lloyd Smith, the BCB president, was not returned yesterday.

To read Clay Smith’s resignation, an open letter to the Bermuda public, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”.