Bermuda manager Irving Romaine has raised concerns over preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B assignment in Oman.
The tournament was moved to the Gulf state from Hong Kong because of ongoing political instability, and the start of the ten-day tournament was moved from November 25 to December 2, further affecting Bermuda’s plans.
They were due to head straight from the UAE to Malaysia for a training camp and set of fixtures before moving on to Hong Kong, but that tour was scrapped before the ICC announced the venue change this week.
With Bermuda already in Dubai for the past two weeks, the shift could have aided their endeavours over the border by remaining in the Middle East until the start of Challenge League B, but Romaine explained that the squad will head back to Bermuda after the final match of the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier, against the Netherlands today.
With the cricket season done and dusted on the island, the man that captained Bermuda at the 2007 ICC World Cup is worried that there will be limited facilities to accommodate the side.
“When we first found out about Hong Kong, we planned to actually stay away the whole time because we’re travelling 14 hours back,” Romaine told The Royal Gazette.
“There was supposed to be a tournament that was set up in Malaysia for us, but that didn’t come through. Maybe it was finances and the cricket board didn’t want to pay. We would’ve stayed and went straight over [to Hong Kong].
“In a situation like this, when we know it’s in Oman, it could’ve worked out even better. We could have played games and trained for the next three weeks in Dubai maybe and then straight to Oman.
“That would benefit us a lot and it would’ve been a lot easier to stay and let players come over when Oman is next door, but instead we’ll go home, go back to work, probably won’t train because it’s the football season and there’s no wickets, really. It doesn’t really suit us going home because there’s nowhere really we can practise.
“But we’ll come back and hope for the best. We’ll come a little early and maybe come to Dubai again, but I really don’t know what the cricket board has in store.”
The first of three rounds of League B — played over the next 2½ years — kicks-off Bermuda’s attempt for a spot at the 2023 World Cup, with the eventual winner of the two groups going on to compete in the World Cup Play-offs in 2022.
Bermuda are pitted in group B of the newly restructured league, alongside Hong Kong, Italy, Jersey, Kenya and Uganda.
It provides near immediate refocus after their disappointing exit from the T20 World Cup Qualifier, during which a lack of cricket and time together as a side in the wake of an eight-week layoff before heading to the UAE has been an issue raised by everyone around the Bermuda set-up.
Romaine believes these spells without sufficient match practice are keeping the players from learning and developing at the same rate as other nations.
“It’s a step up in a level, but not playing as much international cricket is hard,” explained the 47-year-old, who smashed Bermuda’s first-ever ODI century back in 2006.
“The situations we came upon in this tournament, if you play more cricket at a higher level you know how to get out of them because you’re gaining experience.
“Where teams are getting out of trouble after losing three or four wickets, we didn’t know how to because we haven’t been in enough situations like that against good opposition.”
Bermuda are expected to name their squad for that tour in the coming days, and Romaine confirmed that there are likely to be changes from Herbie Bascome’s group that is in the UAE.
“The format is 50 overs so there will probably be some changes to our team,” he said.
“There’s a lot of players still at home that are better-suited to the 50-over format, rather than coming in and bashing the ball around for 20 overs. There are batsmen at home who can bat a little longer.
“The squad probably has to be in by the end of this weekend, so Herbie will have to make some decisions today or tomorrow and organise the team so we’ll probably know the players who are and are not coming back by the end of this trip.”
One player to keep an eye on when that list of players bound for Oman is released is Dion Stovell, who stepped down as captain after three matches in Dubai.
Rodney Trott has taken over the reins and Romaine believes Stovell and Bascome will sit down soon to discuss the long-term future of the captaincy.
“Dion had some personal issues that he wanted to deal with and he said he wanted to step down as captain for the rest of the tour,” Romaine said. “I don’t know [his plans after the tour], I think he’ll talk to the coach.”