[Written by Patrick Bean]
While Bermuda’s senior cricketers failed in their recent bid to qualify for the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, the Island’s hosting of the regional qualifier involving Canada, Cayman Islands and Panama has been noted as a success by the world governing body.
Playing no small part in the smooth running of the event were a band of volunteers, who went largely unnoticed by many, but were vital elements.
Among these were members of the Bermuda U-19 cricket team, Jermel Proctor and Isaiah O’Brien, who, under the direction of hydration manager Russell Richardson, could be found motoring around the two playing venues — White Hill Field and National Sports Centre’s North Field — transporting refreshments, equipment and event personnel.
Richardson was quick to acknowledge the contributuions of the youngsters, who sacrificed their free time to help out and give back to the sport by supporting the Bermuda Cricket Board [BCB], which has allowed them opportunities to travel and compete on the international stage, much as their senior counterparts.
“We are the hydration people, making sure that there’s was water and Gatorade supplied to all of the teams and everybody else, as well as doing some other odds and ends,” said Richardson, while taking a brief break from his tasks during the final day of the event. “The players have been doing a great job, but, unfortunately, not many recognise or truly appreciate the job that they have been doing throughout the tournament and even before the event started.
“Whatever I’ve asked them to do they done it with 100 percent commitment.”
Rather than simply have them deliver drinks to the various teams, Richardson thought it good to formally introduce the youngsters to various team managers and other copnnected officials in order that they might gain a more in depth understanding of the inner workings of a major tournaments, as well as develop international relationships that might aid in the furtherance of their sporting careers.
“What I’ve been doing with them, with regard to all of the international teams, has been to introduce them to all of the team managers, so that they get to know them,” added Richardson, who has served in management capacities during several overseas youth tours and is a former winner of the Chivas Cricket Sportsman Award for his unwavering support of local cricket. “We have some West Indies fast bowlers here, along with presidents of some companies, so it’s about getting them comfortable being in this type of atmosphere.
“It’s good to be able to expose them, not only to the cricket, but as well to all of the things that go on behind the scenes relative to the organisation of these tournaments.
“We went to Canada recently, but here we do ten times more things than what we experience at overseas competitions.
“The ICC only pays for the water, but we got Dunkley’s to sponsor and supply us with Gatorade and to be able to give them the works, so we are ver thankful to Dunkley’s for giving us the Gatorade.”
Jermel Proctor, a promising young seam bowler, who plays league cricket for Somerset and was a key member of the U-19 team that participated in qualifying for the 2024 ICC Under-19 World Cup in Canada back in August, and Isaiah O’Brien, another young quick with international aspirations told of their experience while working the senior tournament.
“We’re just volunteering and helping out wherever we’re needed, like with bringing drinks and transporting people around the venue,” began Proctor, while viewing Bermuda’s first encounter against Canada, which the Island won handily. “Of course it’s a great opportunity to watch the international teams in action, particularly Canada and Bermuda.
“It’s nice to see Bermuda on top. It was a bit of a surprise but it’s good to see us getting the better of them.
“I’m trying to push into the side. I believe I’m on the verge of getting into the team and by the next time the tournament comes around I’d like to be in the squad.”
Similarly, O’Brien has great hopes of representing the country at the senior level, but was very much taken by the inner workings that take place in staging major international events.
“I volunteered mainly just to see the international stage and how it operates,” said O’Brien, who performs locally for St David’s and is the nephew of former St George’s Cup Match star and one still rated among Bermuda’s premier fast bowlers, George O’Brien. “I do really want to play for Bermuda on the highest stage, so seeing these guys go at it is encouraging to me.
“And, truthfully, I really want to be on TV and be able to perform good.
“I really like watching Kamau Leverock and Sinclair Smith, because of his energy, but I’ve really been able to connect with a lot of the players.
“My uncle has influenced me and showed me a few things about the mental part of cricket.
“Before games we go over what deliveries and strategies I can use to get various batsmen out, as well as go over their strengths and weaknesses.”