ICC World Cricket League  Division 5  Singapore 2012

18th February
League
19th FebruarySingaporeLeague
21st FebruaryArgentinaLeague
22nd FebruaryMalaysiaLeague
24th FebruaryCayman IslandsLeague
25th FebruaryCayman IslandsPlayoff

PREVIEW

‘Joke turns into reality for Biggins in one phone call’    by Gareth Le Prevost

LAST Thursday Andy Biggins received a telephone call out of the blue. It was from his successor as Guernsey captain Stuart Le Prevost. ‘Stu rang me up and as I answered I was joking “don’t say you’ve got a problem and you need me to come to Singapore”,‘ said the man who led the island to five successive inter-insular victories in the noughties. ‘Stu just said “Basically, you’re not far off” and he then explained the situation about Tim [Duke]. ‘It’s fair to say it was a big surprise.

At that point, it was still unclear as to whether Duke would be fit to travel this weekend to the World Cricket League Division Five tournament after injuring his right wrist in a cycling accident, but the Guernsey management knew that indications were not promising and the next morning the all-rounder was forced to withdraw. By that point, Biggins had discussed with his fiancée, as well as his employer the possibility of taking his ORs teammate’s place.      ‘When you get an opportunity like that it is exciting and I am very lucky that I have a very understanding fiancée and that I work for a very helpful company,’ he said. ‘It’s a one-off and it should be a really nice experience.

‘I have spent five years moaning that all my tours with Guernsey were to Edinburgh and Glasgow and when Stu took over he got to go to Singapore and Malaysia. I cannot really moan now’

As Guernsey captain between 2002 and 2006, left-handed batsman Biggins enjoyed an unbeaten inter-insular record, which ended Jersey’s decade of dominance. The 37-year-old last played for Guernsey in 2007, when he decided to take a break from representative cricket, although he is still one of the most consistent run-scorers in the domestic game. The management have explained to him that as a replacement, he will obviously be down the pecking order behind those established in the successful squad. Such is his nature, though, Biggins will ensure he is as ready as he can be if called upon. ‘It is still my responsibility to be fit and be in as decent form as possible.’ he said.

‘I keep myself relatively fit anyway, I have been batting okay in the top domestic competitions over the last few years and I still feel I can score runs. ‘The one area I thought I might perhaps struggle more is in the field, but we had a good session on Sunday and it seemed to go fine. ‘ After that session, Guernsey coach Andy Cornford spoke of his contentment at having Biggins available as a replacement for the unfortunate Duke. ‘Obviously we are bitterly disappointed for Dukey. For somebody to commit until the 11th hour and then pick up an injury is disappointing, but these things do happen,’ Cornford said. ‘However, we are pleased that we have managed to get a replacement on board who we know all about and Biggsy is a good player who adds a lot of experience to the squad. ‘Biggins is well acquainted with the majority of the touring party, having captained under the management of Peter Vidamour and played alongside several of the 14-man squad. He admitted, though, that he is already suffering from a few butterflies at the prospect of being involved on the international stage.

‘You come back and you do get a bit nervous,’ he said. ‘No matter how many times you have played for Guernsey, you always want to do your best and other than our initial trip to Scotland [for the European Division Two Championships in 2006], I have not played an ICC tournament and certainly that level is something different to what we get locally.’

But while the intensity of WCL5 in which Guernsey will face Bahrain, Singapore, Argentina, Cayman Islands and Malaysia will be something new to Biggins, he added that it will be made easier being surrounded by a group that won promotion to it last year. ‘The most noticeable thing at training, although it was not surprising, was there seemed a very good camaraderie there. ‘They are a really good bunch of lads and I’m very happy to be going away with them. ‘I am sure we will play some very good cricket.’

‘Double night-shift in Dubai lies ahead’    by Gareth Le Prevost

BOTH of Guernsey’s warm-up games next week ahead of their World Cricket League
Division Five campaign will now be ‘day-nighters’. The Sarnians travel to Dubai on Saturday for four days of preparation before moving onto the tournament in Singapore, which begins on Saturday 18 February. While in Dubai, Guernsey have fixtures arranged against a Sharjah representative XI and a UAE second XI. The former of those fixtures was due to be played during the day on Tuesday at The Sevens ground while the next day’s game was a day-night affair at Sharjah’s international stadium. However, the Sharjah stadium is playing host to an important Intercontinental game on Thursday and so Guernsey have been asked to switch their fixtures around.  

The change also requires the match at The Sevens to be played under lights. Although two matches under lights may not be seen as ideal preparations for the conditions the team will face in Singapore, Guernsey manager Pete Vidamour emphasised that the important factor is simply to play on a cricket pitch for the first time since Malaysia in September. ‘The purpose is to get some games,’ he said. ‘Dubai is not exactly the same as Singapore, but it is warm and we will get some cricket.

The squad will be joined in Dubai by Keith Greenfield, the Sussex cricket performance manager, who will help coach Andy Cornford prepare the side.’What Andy wanted was to have two coaches available because with a 14-man squad, if he was on his own, he would have been spreading himself a bit thin and perhaps not giving enough attention to each individual,’ Vidamour said. ‘Keith was happy to come along for the Dubai part of the trip to help us out. ‘He knows the guys from working with them before and he was here with Andy last week.’

‘Toughest challenge yet but Guernsey are in it to win it’    by Gareth Le Prevost

GUERNSEY coach Andy Cornford is not one to sidestep a question. Some in his position might be guarded when asked if he has set a specific goal for his team when they embark on their first World Cricket League Division Five tournament next week. Cornford’s answer was emphatic. ‘To win it.

The thought of merely consolidating their position is simply too negative for this group, especially considering what they achieved a little more than four months ago in Malaysia. However, thanks to their experiences in Kuala Lumpur, they also know that success only comes with hard work.

‘This is going to be our toughest tournament because it is the highest standard we have played at and we have also never gone into a tournament during our winter,’ Cornford said. ‘Not only have we had no cricket in the preceding months, we also have to manage exposure to the sun. But as long as we can hit the ground running, I’m confident we can achieve what we set out to do. To be ranked 33rd in the world having won our last 15 games is a great achievement, but we are only going to be judged on what happens from here on in.

‘The experience of winning [in Malaysia] will hopefully come into play, though, be cause we know we are going to be under real pressure in Singapore. Cornford’s belief in his side’s capability has not wavered despite the dramatic late change to the squad brought on by Tim Duke’s untimely wrist injury. However, the coach admitted that there are set to be some lengthy management discussions over team selection once the party departs for Dubai on Saturday and the start of WCL5 a week later in Singapore. ‘The loss to the squad is a considerable one because of the role he plays as an all-rounder.

 ‘Having lost Lee Savident through injury, getting Dukey in meant we had a player who balances the team in a similar way to Savs. ‘We have some decisions to make now and with the players we have got, they are going to be tough decisions. ‘I think we have got a squad of 14 really strong cricketers and the hardest thing is going to be getting the balance right.

That means the four days the squad spend in Dubai, where they will train and play a couple of warm-up matches on the way to Singapore, have taken on even greater significance. ‘Dubai is massive and probably even more important now we have lost Dukey,’ Cornford said. ‘We have prepared really well here having started back in October, but now we want to get outside and Dubai has fantastic facilities, the boys will have two games under lights which will be a good experience for them, and we are guaranteed good weather.’

That last sentiment cannot be applied to Singapore, though.  When Guernsey were there for WCL6 in 2009 they encountered some torrential downpours and they must expect the same again with thunderstorms always a threat. ‘Last time we were there was at the end of the year. I have heard February is a tad wet out there, but that’s Singapore and it is something we are going to have to deal with. ‘We hope that D/L does not play too much of a role in the tournament, but we have to roll with it. ‘When you turn up at a ground, you only really want to look at the wicket, but we will have to be mindful of what the forecasts say.’

On the pitch, Guernsey will face some familiar foes. As well as fellow WCL6 promotion winners Malaysia, Guernsey have history against both Bahrain and Singapore from back in 2009. That year Bahrain defeated the Sarnians three times over the Division Seven and Six tournaments, while Singapore also beat them on the way to the WCL6 title.

The other two nations, Argentina and Cayman Islands, will be new opponents for Guernsey having come down from Division Four. Cornford, though, is pleased that the schedule starts with the Bahrain clash. ‘They are familiar opposition and I know how much all those involved in Guernsey cricket want to turn it around against them,’ he said.

Over the course of the week, the strength of the squad is bound to come into play. The loss of former professional Savident to a back injury was a major blow and a player of Duke’s calibre will obviously be missed too, but there is definitely an air of excitement around the inclusion of newcomers Will Peatfield and Matt Renouf. ‘What I feel most comfortable about is the blend,’ said Cornford. ‘We are starting to see the younger players coming on, but we are not taking any passengers. ‘Every player has to prepare properly and if they are called on to play, they are expected to deliver .’ The coach added that he wants the dedication of the successful senior team and the opportunities that dedication brings to filter down to the next generation of island players.

The message is that the rewards are there if players are prepared to work hard for them. ‘In this position where opportunities have arisen [to go to these international events], you would like to take some of the younger players in the group, but we’re not just going to give those opportunities away,’ Cornford said. ‘Players have to show me, the captain and manager Pete Vidamour that they have the right attitude and want to play. Some of the younger players at the moment have not done enough to warrant getting on the plane. Hopefully a look at the likes of Tom Kimber and Dave Hooper, what they have achieved and the opportunities it has given them, will encourage other young players to want to do the same.’

 Guernsey squad

Stuart Le Prevost (captain), GH Smit, Gary Rich, Stuart Bisson, Ben Ferbrache, Jamie Nussbaumer, Ross Kneller, Tom Kimber, Jeremy Frith, Will Peatfield, Matt Renouf, David Hooper, Tim Ravenscroft, Andy Biggins.
Coach: Andy Comford.

Manager: Pete Vidamour.

Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five Singapore 2012 schedule

Saturday 18 February Guernsey v. Bahrain.

Sunday 19 February Guernsey v. Singapore.

Monday 20 February Reserve day.

Tuesday 21 February Guernsey v Argentina

Wednesday 22 February Guernsey v. Malaysia.

Thursday 23 February Reserve day.

Friday 24 February Guernsey v. Cayman Islands.
Saturday 25 February Play-offs.

‘Out of the cold and into the Dubai heat and nets’    by Gareth Le Prevost

GUERNSEY have arrived in Dubai fully focused on making the most of the next three days’ preparation before heading on to Singapore. The squad, who begin their Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five campaign on Saturday, enjoyed their first outdoor training session for five months yesterday at The Sevens ground in bright, warm sunshine and a welcome breeze – a far cry from the -10C temperature they had experienced at Gatwick Airport 24 hours earlier.

 ‘Although it is a bit of a shock to the system to go from a British winter to this weather, it is not excessively hot here, it is comfortable which is just what we need to get lengthy practice in,’ said Guernsey captain Stuart Le Prevost. ‘We went to The Sevens ground today, had a good session with a decent fielding practice and there were grass nets there which enabled the batsmen to have a hit and the bowlers to turn their arms over.’

 Le Prevost emphasised the importance of the squad’s time in Dubai if they were to be successful in Singapore.  ‘It is a new experience for us to play in a World Cricket League tournament at this time of year,’ he said. ‘We have got into every other ICC tournament either in the middle of our domestic season or at the end of it, so in comparison we are short of cricket this time around. ‘But we have been as thorough as we can be in our preparations back home and now that we are here, everyone is determined to make the most of the time we have and the facilities at our disposal.’ Le Prevost was also happy to report that everyone is fit and healthy, with star all-rounder Jeremy Frith having recovered from a bout of flu and, importantly, not passed it on to any of his teammates.

Guernsey are scheduled to have another three-hour session at The Sevens today before heading off to Abu Dhabi to watch the first one-day international between Pakistan and England. The Sarnians will then play the first of their two day-night warm-up matches at the renowned Sharjah International Stadium on Tuesday. ‘We all know we are here to do a job and the guys are approaching this trip in a very professional manner,’ Le Prevost said. Obviously our management have ensured that we have everything we need while here and having Keith Greenfield here to help Andy Cornford gives us another very experienced coach to help us prepare in the right way.’

 While the players were working hard yesterday, though, Guernsey’s travelling support took the chance to see the final day of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament at the immensely impressive Emirates course.

Out of the cold and into the Dubai heat and nets’    by Gareth Le Prevost

GUERNSEY have arrived in Dubai fully focused on making the most of the next three days’ preparation before heading on to Singapore. The squad, who begin their Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five campaign on Saturday, enjoyed their first outdoor training session for five months yesterday at The Sevens ground in bright, warm sunshine and a welcome breeze – a far cry from the -10C temperature they had experienced at Gatwick Airport 24 hours earlier. ‘Although it is a bit of a shock to the system to go from a British winter to this weather, it is not excessively hot here, it is comfortable which is just what we need to get lengthy practice in,’ said Guernsey captain Stuart Le Prevost. ‘We went to The Sevens ground today, had a good session with a decent fielding practice and there were grass nets there which enabled the batsmen to have a hit and the bowlers to turn their arms over.’

Le Prevost emphasised the importance of the squad’s time in Dubai if they were to be successful in Singapore. ‘It is a new experience for us to play in a World Cricket League tournament at this time of year,’ he said. ‘We have got into every other ICC tournament either in the middle of our domestic season or at the end of it, so in comparison we are short of cricket this time around. ‘But we have been as thorough as we can be in our preparations back home and now that we are here, everyone is determined to make the most of the time we have and the facilities at our disposal.’

Le Prevost was also happy to report that everyone is fit and healthy, with star all-rounder Jeremy Frith having recovered from a bout of flu and, importantly not passed it on to any of his teammates.  Guernsey are scheduled to have another three-hour session at The Sevens today before heading off to Abu Dhabi to watch the first one-day international between Pakistan and England. The Sarnians will then play the first of their two day-night warm-up matches at the renowned Sharjah International Stadium on Tuesday. ‘We all know we are here to do a job and the guys are approaching this trip in a very professional manner,’ Le Prevost said. ‘Obviously our management team have ensured that we have everything we need while here and having Keith Greenfield here to help Andy Cornford gives us another very experienced coach to help us prepare in the right way.’

While the players were working hard yesterday, though, Guernsey’s travelling support took the chance to see the final day of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament at the immensely impressive Emirates course.

‘Cobwebs blown away into the desert’    by Gareth Le Prevost

JEREMY FRITH, Stuart Le Prevost and Ben Ferbrache all helped themselves to half-centuries in Sharjah yesterday. Guernsey thrashed a London Invitation XI by a massive 203 runs, but if there was a downside to the comfort of the friendly win it is that it hardly answered any questions. The fight for places is intense with Guernsey having just one more outing in Dubai before their Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five campaign kicks off on Saturday. Yesterday’s win in their first warm-up game at the impressive Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the UAE saw several staking their claim to be in the starting XI to face Bahrain in Singapore in three days’ time and, if anything, made the management team’s job even harder.

‘Selection is still not clear,’ said coach Andy Cornford. ‘Tomorrow,everybody has got a lot to play for, but everybody has benefited from today’s gamestyle.’

There were occasional signs of rustiness against the touring London Invitational XI, as was to be expected in the first outing since that momentous World Cricket League Division Six final back in September, but as an exercise in blowing the cobwebs away, it was a valuable one. The majority of the batsmen looked in decent touch with the middle of the bat being found more often than not against a modest attack on an easy-paced track at the ground which has hosted more one-day internationals than any other venue – and has large billboards everywhere you look to remind you of that fact. In fact, opener Ross Kneller was feeling almost too good for his own liking, later admitting that having his middle stump removed as he attempted to pull a ball that was too full was probably a blessing in disguise as he was starting to get carried away having smacked 25 from just 16 balls including four fours and a six at the top of the order. But his start gave the Guernsey innings impetus on the way to an impressive 50-over total of 332 for nine in a match in which they used 13 players over the course of the day – the only squad member to miss out being Tim Ravenscroft as a precautionary measure with a bruised finger on his right hand.

It was hardly surprising that Jeremy Frith made a composed half-century, although it was skipper Stuart Le Prevost and number five Ben Ferbrache who really stole the batting honours. The captain timed the ball beautifully on his way to 67 at quicker than a run-a-ball with seven fours and a six, while Ferbrache worked the ball into the gaps and ran excellently to finish unbeaten on 65 from just 56 deliveries.

There were also useful runs from Andy Biggins (32), who deposited the biggest six of the day into the Qasim Noorani Stand, and Tom Kimber (27) who seemed to carry over the confidence from his man-of-the-match performance in the final in Singapore.

The bowlers were perhaps a little rustier than the batsmen, although in saying that young newcomers Matt Renouf and Will Peatfield would have also had a few butterflies as they look to make their mark before World Cricket League Five begins. However, the odd four-ball apart against decent openers who took advantage of them, they generally found good areas and the ball with which Peatfield made the initial breakthrough was a fine one that clipped the top of off stump. Medium pacers Stuart Bisson and Dave Hooper showed good control after the shine had gone from the ball, although it was with his fielding that Hooper helped deliver the second wicket. Bisson picked up the next couple, one well caught behind by Kimber standing up and the next chipped to extra cover where it was pouched by Ferbrache, who then effected the second run out of the innings. Gary Rich got in on the act as Kimber took a simple stumping, before GH Smit ran through the lower order with the final four wickets as the London Invitational XI were bowled out for 129 in 34.20vers.

‘I was really pleased with today’s performance,’ Cornford said. ‘We certainly got out of it what we wanted to. The batters had time at the wicket and the bowlers had a run out in tough conditions.’

‘Captain follows the great Gavascar onto live radio’ 

OUT on the pitch it might have been England against Pakistan, but the Guernsey cricket team featured prominently in the national media during Monday’s one-day international at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium. As well as being shown and mentioned by Nasser Hussain during Sky Sports’ coverage of the game, captain Stuart Le Prevost was also invited into the Test Match Special commentary box during the interval and was interviewed live on BBC radio by Jonathan Agnew. They talked about Guernsey cricket in general and the fact that Guernsey are currently in the United Arab Emirates preparing fur Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five, which starts in Singapore on Saturday. Aggers also recalled his one trip to Guernsey for David Gower’s Testamonial while he was playing for Leicestershire, at which point Le Prevost told the interviewer that island manager Pete Vidamour would like to put it on record that he had hit a six off him at the College Field that day in 1986.

‘It came as a surprise when the Test Match Special producer came over to us during the first innings and invited me up to the box,’ said the Guernsey skipper. ‘It was quite a novel experience, following the legendary Sunil Gavaskar onto the air, but “Aggers” makes you feel really comfortable and hopefully it went down well back home small.

‘It’s just desserts’    by Gareth Le Prevost

FROM an iconic international venue one day, to an outpost in the middle of the desert greeted by camels the next – the Guernsey cricket team have certainly seen some sights on their short trip to the United Arab Emirates.  

The squad left Dubai last night on route to Singapore for Pepsi World Cricket League Division Five with a second warm-up win under their belts, having overcome an under-23 Emirates Cricket Board’s Blues XI by 96 runs at the Al Dhaid Cricket Village. The floodlit venue sounded grand, but it was a world apart from the Sharjah Stadium of 24 hours earlier, with the only two permanent structures taking the form of a wooden seating area open on three sides and a small toilet block.

The wicket was even more remarkable. There was not a blade of grass to be seen, just a rolled strip of baked mud that resembled a marble surface when the players arrived, which was to crumble at the ends under the strain of the players’ studs as the game progressed.  

But the surroundings did not matter, the Sarnians just needed more time in the middle and so they set about their business. Guernsey’s innings saw them facing some mediocre pace bowling first up but then quality spinners thereafter. Openers GH Smit and Ross Kneller made hay in the early overs, dispatching the bad balls – of which there were many – to all parts of the ground as they put on 82 for the first wicket at 10-an-over.

Kneller was the first to go for 29 while the Argyll’s man compiled a rapid 59, which included eight boundaries. But after that flying start, the spinners put the brakes on firmly, capturing the big wickets of Tim Ravenscroft and Jeremy Frith in quick succession, the former hitting a full toss straight to deep square leg and the latter giving a sharp return catch to the bowler.

‘Tough calls ahead for selectors’

Stuart Le Prevost (13) and Ben Ferbrache (16) began the rebuild, but it was Andy Biggins and David Hooper who did the best work. They both applied themselves well to the situation, ensuring that further wickets did not fall cheaply, before accelerating well at the end of the innings, Biggins making an unbeaten 30 while Hooper finished with a fine 47 to his name. Guernsey ended with 223 for eight from their 50 before the ECB Blues XI struggled against Jamie Nussbaumer’s pace early on leading the way for Stuart Bisson to make the breakthrough at the other end. Hooper took the catch in the covers and the second wicket saw a role reversal as Bisson returned the favour to give Hooper a wicket.

Matt Renouf got in on the act, too, clipping the top of the stumps as just reward for a decent first-change spell. The spinners were then given a much-needed lengthy spell, considering the amount of work they have ahead of them in Singapore. Gary Rich picked up a couple of economical wickets while there were four for Frith as both found a decent rhythm.  

There was also a wicket late on for Kneller, who leapt at the opportunity to turn his arm over while both Ravenscroft and Smit were off the field, as the opposition were skittled out for 127. Then it was straight into the cold shower, onto the coach and off to the airport with the players suitably content with their four days’ work in Dubai and the management having some tough decisions to make.

Judging by the warm-up games, the Kneller-Smit combination will be the way they go at the top of the order, with Frith, Ravenscroft and Le Prevost set to complete the top five. Kimber, Rich and Nussbaumer are surely also pencilled in, with Ferbrache first in line for the final batting spot, leaving two spots to fill. A couple of hard calls lie ahead for the coach, manager and captain with Bahrain and the real stuff on the horizon on Saturday.

‘Late selection issue a sign of strength – coach’    by Gareth Le Prevost

PREPARATIONS are complete, it is time for business. Guernsey have arrived in Singapore and this morning had their final training session before the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Five campaign begins tomorrow against Bahrain.

As usual, the weather is hot and humid with the players getting a sweat on very quickly at the Kallang Cricket Ground, which was bathed in sunshine by the time they finished practice at 11.30am, but also surrounded by threatening clouds. ‘You can feel the heat this morning at 9.30am, when the games will start, but we just have to deal with it. It is not even a consideration for the boys now,’ said coach Andy Cornford, just before departing for lunch where he, manager Pete Vidamour, captain Stuart Le Prevost and physio Adam Rochford would talk about the starting XI for the opening game. ‘We are formulating our plan and there are going to be three disappointed lads tomorrow morning, but regardless of the XI we go in with, I’m really comfortable with the squad we have got here. ‘Being just a day away from the competition and still contemplating our options is a good sign of the strength we have.’ Cornford added that he was glad the wait for World Cricket League Five was nearly at an end. ‘Having a day to recharge and get the flight from Dubai out of our legs is important and it is good to finally be here,’ he said. ‘I think we have prepared as hard as we could have done, everyone is just eager to get under way now. ‘The other teams have also arrived at the Park Royal Hotel, which is the base for the tournament, along with the match official including ICC Elite Panel umpire Tony Hill, who met the Guernsey management team today.

The Sarnians had earlier arrived to 30C temperatures in Singapore. Although the team enjoyed a useful training camp in Dubai for four days before arriving in the Far East, they knew that the temperature and humidity would be another step up once they arrived in Singapore, and so it proved yesterday.

Star all-rounder Jeremy Frith admitted that the temptation after a seven-hour flight was to lay back and catch up on some sleep on arrival, but he knew it was not the best course of action. ‘You have to get out in the open air to acclimatise as quickly possible to the conditions he said. ‘The air conditioning may be the best place to be, but that is not what we will be playing in here,’ Frith added.

REVIEW

GUERNSEY coach Andy Cornford has already set his sights on winning the next World Cricket League Division Five tournament in 2014.  The island side came third in last week’s tournament in Singapore, culminating in a thrilling one-run win over the Cayman Islands on Saturday in the play-offs. But one day later Cornford was already outlining his next plan. ‘For the first time we are leaving a WCL event pleased we have secured ourselves in Division Five, but realistically we know we could have won it,’ he said. ‘To win tournaments like this we need to play more consistently. I would not say it’s technical, but more a mental thing. ‘It was our first tournament out of season and I think we prepared well, but we can spend hours working at the technical skills, yet cricket is about mental skills, too, and that comes in match situations.’ However, the coach also admitted to being wary of getting over promoted too early. ‘Without being rude to our opposition in the past, they have not been able to expose us, but all the players and management leave this tournament knowing we all need that little bit more application,’ he said. ‘We need to use this time [before the next WCL5] to improve the skills of the players we have got and also look at some younger players to make sure we have quality in reserve. ‘I am really looking at sides like Argentina where they are almost in freefall and while I go into every tournament looking to win it, I think this [third place] is a good thing.  ‘On the eve of the Malaysia game [which Guernsey lost agonisingly by four runs] I had already started to look at the players we have got, what gaps we have, and also how to channel our resources.’ Cornford picked out the batsmen particularly as the group who need to develop their game further as they generally did not fire as a unit in Singapore.  ‘We need batsmen who are capable of batting 50 overs. One of the challenges is that I need batsmen who can bat the duration. ‘In the island we have very talented stroke players, but in foreign conditions, if you are 30 for three, we need people who can drag us out of the situation. ‘In this tournament, though, as a whole we have bowled fantastically well,’ he added, pointing to the contributions of leading wicket-taker David Hooper as well as the spearhead of the attack Jamie Nussbaumer, who were well backed up but the spinners. But with a lengthy gap now to the next WCL5, what lies between now and then? ‘We have to make sure we have got proper fixtures in place where our players are exposed to pressure situations,’ Cornford said. ‘Hopefully we will have a major fixture at Hove this summer, although it is a bit early at this stage to go into details on that. ‘We will also consider a development tour and get those players properly challenged in a foreign environment.  ‘We had a long, good and honest chat as a group at the end of the tournament and everyone recognised our need to be better, fitter and open to challenges.  ‘We can certainly be comfortable in this division, but I do not want to settle for that.’ As a conclusion, Cornford paid tribute to Gary Rich, who retired from representative cricket at the end of the tournament, and revealed that the Cobo veteran could still have a role to play in the island set up.  ‘This tournament saw the end of Gary Rich’s international career and it was an emotional time for him and the whole group,’ Cornford said.  ‘He has been a stalwart of Guernsey cricket and how he conducts himself in training and matches, the imput he has and his desire are as close to a profession- all as an amateur sportsman can be. ‘When you watch him, he works as hard if not harder than everyone else and any time he put that shirt on, it meant so much to him.  ‘He epitomised everything a Guernsey cricketer should be.’

Love for the Guernsey cricket team

Posted on February 27, 2012 by M Venkat Raghav

Have you ever imagined this setting? You can actually stuff an entire country’s population in a match at Eden Gardens, Kolkatta. To top it all the country has a cricket team. Well, come out of the imagination and you can see the reality. Guernsey is one such country. Their cricketers are the best ambassadors for small country cricket. Watching them from close quarters in WCL 5, I felt that they were the best personifications for the much abused ‘It’s just a sport’. While they give it their all on the field, they are gregarious and fun-loving characters off it.

In a match that was affected by rain, all of them volunteered to be the groundsmen for the day. This gesture was not lost on the opposition, Argentina, as they too ventured in getting the match started. It was the second match of Guernsey that I watched. What actually caught the eye and knowing that little more about the team was a little gesture at the break of the innings. All of their players stood up to applause in welcoming Kneller, who turned the match around in the batting powerplay. They stood on to applaud Ferbrache who was instrumental in holding an end as Kneller went bonkers at the end. All the players of the team and the supporting staff had enough sense in standing on and applauding the Argentinian team off the field. This gesture was not lost on the people watching the game.

In their next game, they had to endure a heart-breaking loss to Malaysia. Going into the final over, it seemed as if they were the favourites. It was not to be and they lost the game by four runs. Far from giving reasons for their loss, the players took it on the chin and looked forward to improving their skill sets. A couple of players that I spoke to said that it wouldn’t have mattered a lot in the final analysis as they felt that Malaysia would have gone in with a stronger eleven into their final league match, than what they actually did- they rested their best batsman for the match. One of the star performers for the Guernsey team, whom I met in the lift, said ‘It was an enjoyable match, isn’t it? We will have to perform better when we find ourselves in a similar situation the next time around’

The next time, though, came pretty soon. Two games after their match against Malaysia, they faced Cayman Islands in a third-place play-off. The batting didn’t click, but they set up a challenging target. The bowlers and fielders did the job for the first half of the Cayman Islands innings. The catch by Hooper at extra-cover off Gordon was an instant classic. It would have found its way to youtube if it were to  be a game between the member countries. When Best and Wright set the ball rolling for a Cayman Islands win with their partnership, the shoulders didn’t wilt. They were trying their best to break the partnership

The momentum swung throughout the slog overs. To spice up the proceedings, there was a threat of rain. Cayman Islands was ahead on D/L tables. The bowlers and the fielders didn’t allow this to deter them and were intent on giving it their all. Under the circumstances, they did the best thing to keep the game in check- take wickets. With the equation down to 19 off 2 overs, Guernsey seemed to be the team with the wherewithal to seal the game. Conroy Wright had other plans, though. He unleashed the flattest of sixes in the over and Cayman Islands were left needing 8 runs off the final over. The hot air, a batsman in rampaging form and tired fielders meant that Cayman Islands were in with the better chance. When Wright took a couple off the first ball, the supporters of Guernsey had given up. Fortunately Ferbrache wasn’t amongst the players that gave up. He ran to his right and leapt about three feet at long-off to pull off a stunning catch.

Wright, the batsman, was stunned at the way the catch was pulled off. He thought that he had the match won with that lofted hit. The denouement was to come as Taylor struck a boundary of the very next ball to get the target down to two runs. He threw the kitchen sink at the next ball and fortunately, missed. Hooper, the bowler was not amused as it was a leg cutter that he had bowled. The entire ground, by this moment, was up on its feet. When the yorker found the target, the stumps, the team was ecstatic.

In the middle of their celebrations, they again found a way to cheer the opposition team off the playing field. In the process, they won the hearts of the people. On the eve of the tournament, the manager said that the biggest strength of the team was the way they struck with each other, through thick and thin. They demonstrated that strength amply through the length of the tournament.

Even better, they showed that they learnt from their mistakes. With teams like this, it’s not the aid that matters, but the exposure. Till then Guernsey, keep winning matches and accumulate fans. It won’t be a surprise if their fans outnumber the population in the near future.

 

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