The Cayman Islands must play “the best cricket of our lives” to progress in next week’s World Cup T20 qualifier in Bermuda, according to coach Peter Anderson.
The 14-man squad travels to the Atlantic island Friday to take on Bermuda, USA and Canada. The top two from that tournament will progress to the next phase in Dubai in November, where they will be up against some of the world’s best teams in a final elimination tournament for next year’s World Cup in Australia.
Anderson admits it will be a big challenge for his team of part-time players to overcome teams with better resources and a sprinkling of professional cricketers in their ranks.
“It is going to be a big ask for our guys,” said Anderson. “We have prepared as best we can, but we are up against teams that have professional players, country players and quadruple our funding.”
He said Cayman’s best chance was to sneak under the radar and hope that teams underestimate them.
“We are aiming for a top two spot. Nobody is monitoring us, so hopefully we can play our best cricket and maybe ambush a couple of these teams,” he said.
Though the USA and Canada are not renowned for their cricketing prowess, their squads are stuffed with expatriates from major cricket playing nations, including India, Pakistan and Australia. Former West Indies Test player Xavier Marshall is a key member of the American squad. US skipper Saurabh Netravalkar represented India in the Under-19 World Cup in 2010.
“I don’t know where they dig these players up from, to be honest,” Anderson admitted.
He said a handful of experienced cricketers, with professional experience, could make a huge difference to a side and suggested the Cayman Islands should look into bolstering its options with a couple of key players.
“Our school programme is going well. We are putting a lot into training, but that exposure to top class cricket makes a huge difference,” Anderson said.
Cayman beat Bermuda and Argentina earlier this year to reach this stage. However, Ramon Sealy, a key player with bat and ball and in the field, is out injured.
“He is a big loss for us,” said Anderson.
With the odds stacked against his side, Cayman Cricket’s coach and technical director remains hopeful that his team can cause an upset. He said their spin bowling, led by skipper Alessandro Morris, was strong and their work ethic could help them sneak into the top two.
He added that the shorter format of the game levelled the playing field a little.
“Its Twenty20, so it just takes one good performance, one good over to change the game and give yourself a chance,” Anderson said.
Cayman’s opening game is against Canada on Sunday.