In all previous tournaments the Bermuda v Canada game was always scheduled on the last day of competition to retain the suspense of crowning the champion. This year because the match was part of the ODI series it was played on the first day - what a pity! Today's match could easily be the most entertaining and thrilling of the entire week. Almost 550 runs were scored in the day's play and in the final over of the match only 11 runs separated the two. Unfortunately for Team Canada and their supporters they were on the short end of the score-their sixth consecutive ODI defeat and the third by Bermuda. The result of this match could very well mean by the end of this week Bermuda could have a justifiable claim to the title of number one in the region.
There is no question that Canada's decision not to include their formidable attack of Osinde and Bhatti plus several other regulars diminished their chances of winning today. To their credit this team fought hard and to the very end but the depth just was not present . The main contributors to Canada's success today were all familiar faces- Davison, Billcliff,George Cordrington and to a lesser degree two members of the 2003 WC team Austin Cordrington and Abdol Samad.
Bermuda won the toss and elected to bat, in a bazaar move opening bowler George O'Brien was sent to check out the new pace attack of Canada. He did not last long enough to evaluate the situation but other incoming batsmen seem to relish the fact they did not have to face the fire of Osinde and Bhatti for unlimited spells as in the Intercontinental Cup. Skipper Irving Romaine enjoyed the fact he was given more than his share of over pitched balls just right for driving in the covers. His century (101) came in just 111 balls and included 12 fours and 5 sixes. Austin Cordrington, Canada's hero in their victory against Bangladesh, bowled well enough to keep things tight but his opening partner Steve Welsh playing in his first game for Canada was not as fortunate with figures of 8-0-68-0, an economy rate of 8.50.
The Canadian bowlers toiled all day without really getting on top of the batting side, Clay Smith who has reentered the side to replace Dean Minors, and Lionel Cann added useful ,quick runs at the end and Bermuda sailed to an impressive total of 272/7 in their 50 overs.
Newcomer Sandeep Jyoit and skipper John Davison gave Canada a reasonable start but with the score on 50, Jyoit played a poor shot and offered a simply pop up to the bowler George O'Brien . John Davison reached his 50 with 7 fours but shortly after the 'drinks' break he went with the score at 91. Billcliff and Samad renewed the hopes of the home fans and took the score to 174 (a 70 run partnership).
Samad in what was a predetermined move stepped down the wicket to Hansan Durham but failed to cover the ball. Had he not got bowled the wicket keeper Kwane Tucker, would have had the easiest stumping of his career! Billcliff and George Cordrington then took the score to 203 when Billcliff went caught at wide mid off by Smith off the bowling of Durham for 59.
The score continued to creep towards the target but wickets were also falling. Finally with only five balls remaining Sandher gave Cann a catch on the mid on boundary and the suspense was over. With the World Cup just seven months away Canadian supporters are beginning to wonder about the performance of their team in one day competition. Some will look at the outcome of this match as a positive thing ,losing by only 11 runs to Bermuda with a team that contained six changes. Others are beginning to wonder how long will Canada continue to experiment with their squad and will they give their coaching staff enough time to gel the final squad into a competitive unit in time for the World Cup.
Some believe that the deadline has already expired. An Americas Championship would have given this team the confidence they need to move forward, based on the result today it now looks very unlikely that even this modest goal will be achieved by a team ,which only a year ago, was ranked number one in the region.