Cayman’s cricketers are getting in shape as they prepare for the next step on the road to the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.
After their success in a pre-qualifying tournament in Argentina, the Cayman Islands will compete against Bermuda, Canada and the USA for two qualifying spots for the tournament in Australia in 2020.
Almost a year out from that four-way Americas tournament, the preparations are beginning. Coach Peter Anderson is putting a 33-man preliminary squad through their paces in a winter fitness program.
He believes fitness could be the key to taking the squad to the next level as they prepare to compete against stronger teams.
“We are starting early because we need to get fitter, then we can work on the skills,” he said. “We can’t do those harder drills unless the boys are fit.”
Anderson believes fielding is one of the key areas his team can improve as they seek to get a competitive edge over squads that are filled with more experienced players, including some first-class cricketers.
“I’ve told the players what I am looking for. If you don’t get to bat but you save me 20 runs in the covers, that can be the difference,” he said.
The squad has been going through fitness assessments at King’s Gym, and each member will get a personal program.
Coach Anderson said, “There are some guys that need to trim down and some that need to build strength and hit the ball harder. I am not looking for massive changes – they are amateur cricketers. We are not looking for Carl Lewis, but we are looking for some improvements. So far the attitude has been great, but I have to hold them back so we are peaking at the right time.”
If Cayman makes the top two in the Americas group next year, the team will reach the final elimination qualifier to be held in Australia immediately before the World Cup in 2020, where they would be matched against some of the world’s top teams, including at least two Test playing nations.
“If we get there, we are in with the top 16 in the world. That would be an amazing achievement,” Anderson added.
He accepts it will be difficult but knows from his experience coaching Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan that it is possible for smaller nations, with limited cricket history, to compete with the best in the world.
“I believe if we can get them a little fitter, we can slip in under the radar,” he said.
“I have been part of Cinderella stories with smaller nation cricket teams in the past, so I know that anything is possible.”
The selection committee of Pearson Best, Ian Goodall, Ezrah Hewitt and Peter Anderson will keep tabs on the players between now and the tournament, before trimming their 33-man squad to 14 players and four reserves.
Cayman Cricket President Abali Hoilett said, “It was important to appoint the selection committee at an early stage, so that we can get a good look at the players over the coming months. The goal of the selectors is to select a balanced side to play T20 cricket, and the players selected will need to be the best across all the specific skills involved in T20 cricket.”