“Really Grateful To Be A Part Of The Squad”

February 22, 2023

[Written by Patrick Bean]

While all of the Bermuda T20 cricket squad are chomping at the bit in advance of Bermuda’ participation in the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Americas Sub-Regional Qualifier in Argentina, five players in particular are anxious to justify their inclusions among the 14-member outfit, now preparing in the Pacific coastal, South American country.

Derrick Brangman, Sinclair Smith, and Justin Pitcher make for a trio of accomplished domestic players with international stage experience, possessing all around capability.

Thirty-five-year-old Brangman provides captain Delray Rawlins an orthodox left arm, slow bowling option, an element proven useful on the T20 stage.

He is also a useful middle to late order batter, who can both graft in support or cut loose in making a charge, both of which he demonstrated with regularity last season with First Division champions St David’s.

An above-average fielder, Brangman possesses safe hands and always appears in shape and with the appearance of an athlete, which is no surprise with his being the offspring of former dual sport star-turned-coach Ricky Brangman.

“I’m really grateful to be a part of the squad,” said Brangman before the team’s recent departure. “I definitely think I earned my spot through the work I put in.

“Maybe I’m a bit surprised because of my age, but I think I can bring quite a bit to the table as a left-armer. They have a tendency to cause problems in T20 and I definitely can add variety to the attack.

“I can come in and contribute as an all-rounder and do the job I’m asked to do.”

Even as he will turn 36 during the touring period, Pitcher won’t have time nor space for extravagant celebration with what’s at stake.

Not that he’d insist on such, as is his penchant and reputation as being one that seeks to win beyond personal desire has already been on display in his captaining of St David’s.

Pitcher has commenced a transformative movement away from centre stage in defference of young talent being thrust forward, thus making his recall somewhat surprising.

“That’s moreso been with the bowling aspect of the game,” said Pitcher of his lessening on-field remit with the Islanders. “I want to groom a couple of the youngsters to take over the seam bowling chores.

“I’ve been transitioning to bowling to spin in order to ease up my back and my body and help me to play the game a little longer.”

With explosive pace an infrequent feature of the microwave version of the game in favour of the use of ‘pace-off’ variants that seam, cut, swing, bounce, and turn, Bermuda may find Pitcher a key ingredient in their quest, along with with what he may bring as a bludgeoning left hand, first innings, basher down the order.

And with the fervent competitiveness, Pitcher also has stamped upon his resume it would be grand if he’s able to create for blazing twilight ride that encourages Bermuda to greater glory.

“T20 is really like the top of the ladder when it comes to cricket,” he said. “So I just want to see where I’m at in terms of competing against the best cricketers, because that’s what you strive for.

“I’m in what you call the ‘veteran years,’ so I’m trying to end on a high.”

The youngster of the trio, Smith, 31, is widely viewed as the local game’s best wicket-keeper/batsman, often utilised as an opener domestically, capable of staging anywhere, but envisioning a remit calling for him to walk out middle to late.

Looking at the squad’s preparation, make up, and remembrance of recent overseas failures, Smith was optimistic of their being able to successfully get across the line in Argentina, thus ensuring dual function as competing hosts in the fall.

“I think the team’s ready,” said Smith. “We’ve put in the work with Kenny Thompson, so I think this is an opportunity for us to showcase our talents.

“I know we’ve been doubted after the last two tournaments, so this is a good time to showcase our true talents and bring the home tournament back to Bermuda in September.

“So I think this is part of that step in getting us to the World Cup, because you’ve got to crawl before you walk. So, now is the crawling before we get to the walking.”

Newly recruited to the national set-up, Jacob Albertze and Matthew Watson carry no parts of the baggage associated with the litany of international failures in both T20 and 50-over formats dating back to the summer of 2019, when the country reached the final qualifying of the 2022 T20 World Cup.

However, the expatriate duo’s incorporation does represent something of a reincarnation of Bermuda’s cricketing past, when several West Indians, who’d taken up local residence, were drafted into representative squads, often to great effect.

A chartered accountant hailing from South Africa, Albertze burst on the scene in a most spectacular manner, scoring a maiden century for Somerset and, despite the club enduring a season best forgotten, represented one of the few positives that emerged.

Being included in the national team is definitely a dream come true,” said Albertze, who also kept wicket for Somerset. “When I came to the island six years ago, I wanted to play cricket; I was told that cricket didn’t start until May and I didn’t like the wait.

“So I started to play in the Evening League and was told that I still could have a chance of getting called up to the national team.

“Then I started my first [Evening League] game and did pretty well and somebody invited me to come to a club, where I did one practice, played on the Sunday and got a good score, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Englishman Watson was recruited to Somerset by teammate Terrance Corday, with his immediate impact less dramatic than that of Albertze, but doggedly consistent all-round showings mandated a look in.

“I played in the Evening League and had a fair bit of success and then a new rule came in, in that if you were under 40, you could not play in both leagues,” said Watson who, ironically, operates his own England-based recruitment business. “So I made the decision to join the Premier League and to try and push to make the national team.

“I played three games in the 50/50 competition, did pretty well, and then played seven 20/20 games for Somerset and ended up in the top 10 for both batting and bowling in the league, so I feel like I made an impact.

“To be involved with this now is an amazing opportunity.”

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