Relegated but not bowled over

The Cayman Islands cricket team may
be licking its wounds after being mauled at the Division 4 tournament in Italy
but the players can take a lot of heart from their spirited performances even
though they only managed to beat one team – Argentina twice – and were
relegated to Division 5.

Cayman are all amateurs and faced
players who have played professionally and at a much higher level. USA won the
division and hosts Italy were second and both were promoted. Italians are not
known for their cricketing prowess but significantly, at the airport when leaving,
Cayman’s Technical Director Theo Cuffy counted nine ‘Italians’ out of their
squad of 14 leaving the country. They don’t even live there and many of them
are Australians and Sri Lankans who are naturalised Italians through residency
or family ties.

Cuffy bloodied a lot of youngsters
who did well considering this was their first major tournament. “The other
teams were more hungry than we were,” he admitted. “They stuck to their game
plan and it worked.”

Three of the Cayman squad were hurt
in a bus crash before the tournament even started which didn’t help matters; Captain
Saheed Mohamed, batsman Abali Hoillet and manager Stephen Best. Best had to
stay behind with a fractured pelvis and when he returned over the weekend was
on crutches. The fact that Cayman’s match practice before they left the island
was disrupted by bad weather was another factor. To compensate they arrived
early in Italy and had two practice matches, but that was inadequate for the
level of competition they faced.

“I wish we had enough funds to have
played in a pre-match tournament,” said Cuffy. “That would have helped.”

Star all-rounder Ryan Bovell said;
“It was extremely difficult out there. We all went with high expectations. The
senior players tried hard to take some of the load off the younger players but
it didn’t work. There is still some stuff we need to learn as far as the team
is concerned. My advice to the youngsters is to train hard and prepare
yourselves. Focus is important. I don’t think playing good teams from Jamaica
or even Australia will do any good. It’s about how you play yourself.”

Ricardo Roach is one of the
youngsters who travelled to Italy. “Right now we’re a fairly young team.
Fitness was our biggest problem. We played against teams that were far fitter.
We also need to get more experience to compete at that level.”

Despite losing all their other
games, Cuffy saw some positives. “Many of our youngsters should take a page
from captain Mohamed who despite extreme pain carried on using a daily quota of
pain killers. We have to give the youngsters time for development. I was happy
to see the development of Ronald Ebanks. His batting has come on in leaps and
bounds. Marlon Bryan is coming on well too. He was possibly the fastest bowler
in the tournament. Conroy Wright did well and took a lot of wickets, but he
needs to be more consistent. Kevin Bazil bowled extremely well and was very
economical. Ramon Sealy made a good knock in the last match. Ryan Bovell was
our leading all rounder and youngsters should try to emulate him.”

To get more experience the side
needs more funds to compete overseas. The cricket association is running a raffle,
10 for 10 to help raise the desperately needed funds. Ten dollar raffle tickets
are on sale now until 10 October (the tenth month) and 10 cash prizes are
available with the top one being $10,000. So everyone should buy at least 10!

* For tickets and more information,
phone 916-5862.

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