Dark days ahead, warns Anderson

Cayman Cricket TD looks for solutions

The Australian sat on a bench as he peered out at the Smith Road Oval field contemplating what happens next. “It’s going to be some dark days ahead,” he said, not referring to the rain clouds in the distance that threatened. Peter Anderson was on the job as Cayman Cricket technical director assessing the future prospects of cricket in the islands following the national team’s winless run at the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 tournament.

The Cayman Islands were lost their six matches in lopsided fashion at the 3-9 September tournament in Benoni, South Africa against Qatar, Guernsey, Italy, Germany and Ghana. Despite the series of heavy defeats, Anderson said he was pleased with the overall effort put forward by the players but admitted it will be an uphill task for the team to be competitive on the international stage.

“It’s too difficult for these guys to come up every 18 months against semi-professional players. We’re not strong enough; we don’t have the depth; we’re not fit enough. It’s very hard on the guys,” he said, as he looked for solutions.

The former first-class cricketer, who has been on the job in the Cayman Islands for just over a year, said the local club programme needs to be strengthened and pointed to a couple of options.

“Maybe we bring in about half a dozen guys to fill-in certain positions and somehow get them residency status so they can boost the local competition is one option,” he suggested, noting that route was used in the past “but we held on to those players for far too long and this is what we’re reaping now”.

However, he said development of the grassroots initiative in the schools must remain a priority. “I think the schools programme is going to be crucial to continue to give opportunities for the kids but it’s going to be very, very difficult for Cayman Cricket to go to that next level. But we have to keep on throwing as much money as possible at the kids. That’s crucial.”

Anderson, who has also coached the Afghanistan and Papua New Guinea national teams, said another option worth exploring is entering the Jamaican club competition to give Cayman’s best players more opportunities to play against better competition than they would face in the local league.

And while that sounds good on paper, that can only happen with the other kind of ‘paper’. “It gets back to money. These other countries – we can’t compete. It’s going to be some dark days ahead for Cayman Cricket,” he repeated.

The national association gets in the region of $200,000 annually from government and the International Cricket Council combined but that can only go so far. “We need some more government support and we need some kind of plan. But you can have all the plans in the world but if you don’t have the money, you’re wasting your time,” Anderson said.

Although Anderson might sound despondent, he remained hopeful of a resurgence. “You’ve got two phase factors: a short-term goal and a long-term goal and you’ve just got to marry those factors together. If that’s done properly and done on a regular basis, you’ll find you can build. With success comes money and bigger programmes.”

Reflecting on South Africa tour

Regarding the specifics of the national team’s performance in South Africa, Anderson said though he was disappointed with the outcome, he was pleased to see improvement in the batting, as the side failed to pass 200 only once in the five games.

“I thought the batting has really improved, which has been an Achilles Heel for Cayman Cricket in the past,” he said.

Opener Sacha De Alwis was the star of the batting with three half centuries, including a 94 against Germany. He was by far the leading run scorer for the Cayman Islands with 273 runs at an average of 54.60. Others scoring half centuries included captain Ramon Sealy, Conroy Wright, Omar Willis and Darren Cato.

Sacha De Alwis had a top score of 94 at the ICC WCL Div 5 tournament. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

“Sacha certainly was consistent. I’m being hard on him [but] he should have scored three hundreds easily. He threw away three opportunities which, in some cases, started our collapses. We sat down and had a good chat. He’s got to get himself fitter and be hungrier for when he gets that opportunity to put the foot on the throat and go forward,” said Anderson, who is also the national team head coach.

“Darren Cato came good towards the end. I put him in the opening position. Ramon had a very good innings against Italy. Overall, our batting was pretty consistent. I think we were 50 runs short [of what we should have scored] but our bowling really punished us,” he said.

However, Anderson was let down by the bowling attack, which has been the team’s strength recently. “It’s hard for me to explain other than the bowlers probably weren’t fit enough and we came up against quality player and they were punished. If they were wide or if they were short, they were punished right away,” he said.

Anderson replaced long-time technical director Theo Cuffy in August 2016.

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