The Royal Gazette mastheadAdrian Robson reports from Nairobi.

A weary national squad touched down at Kenyatta airport in Nairobi last night with the prospects of a gruelling five-week tour - the longest and potentially most demanding ever embarked upon by a Bermuda team - probably the last thing on the players' minds.

Some 20 hours after leaving the Island, 15 of those in the air, their immediate thoughts were no doubt on the comforts awaiting at the city's Hilton Hotel, first stop on a trip through East and South Africa which will arguably prove to be the most pivotal yet in their build-up to next year's fast approaching World Cup.

But with little time to acclimatise or shrug off the jetlag, the players were expected to be summoned to a light training session late this afternoon, their first tour assignment, a four-day Intercontinental Cup clash against the host country set to begin on Sunday.

What follows is a series of one-day and four-day matches against Kenya and fellow World Cup qualifiers Holland and Canada, punctuated by a week-long training stint at the cricket academy in Pretoria, all of which should go a long way towards shaping the final squad which coach Gus Logie will take to the Caribbean next March.

Save for youngsters OJ Pitcher and Delyone Borden who have resumed studies in the US, Logie has at his disposal perhaps the strongest group of players since the country's ICC Trophy success in Ireland 18 months ago.

A trimmed down Clay Smith (right) who will share the role of captain with Irving Romaine - Smith will take charge in the four-day games and Romaine in the ODIs - appears to be back to full fitness following lengthy rehabilitation from knee surgery, and if that alone wasn't sufficient to bolster an all-too-often fragile top order, there's the addition of David Hemp, much of whom will be expected following years of experience on the English county stage.

Experience also comes in the form of Dean Minors, Janeiro Tucker, Saleem Mukuddem and Dwayne (Sluggo) Leverock while there's no shortage of youth in the squad with the ever-improving Malachi Jones, recently voted Bermuda Cricket Board Youth Player of the Year, Rodney Trott, and UK-based Stephen Outerbridge and Stefan Kelly helping to balance the scales of age.

Romaine, Kelly, Kevin Hurdle and Kwame Steede were due to rejoin their team-mates today, all four having spent time recently at the Pretoria academy, where the entire squad will be based once they leave Kenya and head down to South Africa midway through November. And South African-born Mukuddem, who has been visiting his homeland, is also expected to fly in today.

With just 15 players at his disposal, Logie will be keen to steer clear of injuries and with nine matches - two four-dayers and seven one-day internationals - scheduled between now and early December, all of those in the squad can be expected to see plenty of action.

Following the opening Intercontinental Cup match in Nairobi, the squad then take an hour's flight to the coastal town of Mombasa where they meet Kenya in three-one-day fixtures, two of them back to back.

And from Mombasa the expedition moves onto South Africa where players get chance to recharge their batteries during five days of training at the Pretoria camp before beginning a second Intercontinental Cup four-day match against Holland.

The Dutch will also provide the opposition in two one-dayers as will Canada, two of those four games taking place in the town of Potchefstroom, about an hour's drive south of Johannesburg.

But the priority last night on a wet and cool evening in Nairobi, after delays at the airport extended the trip another hour or so, was catching up on some much-needed sleep.

Today, as Logie pointed out before leaving, the players, with little or no match practice under their belts over the past couple of months, will need to hit the ground running.

Full tour squad: Clay Smith (four-day captain), Irving Romaine (one-day captain), Janeiro Tucker, Kwame Tucker, Saleem Mukuddem, Dean Minors, David Hemp, Stephen Outerbridge, Rodney Trott, Malachi Jones, Dwayne Leverock, Hasan Durham, Ryan Steede, Kevin Hurdle, Stefan Kelly, Gus Logie (coach), Herbie Bascome (assistant coach), Lionel Tannock (manager), Craig Brown (physiotherapist), Arthur Pitcher jr, Lionel Cann, Azeem Pitcher.

TOUR ITINERARY

  • November 5-8 - v Kenya, Intercontinental Cup, in Nairobi
  • Novermber 11 - v Kenya, one-day international, in Mombasa
  • November 12 - v Kenya, one-day international, in Mombasa
  • November 14 - v Kenya, one-day international, in Mombasa
  • November 16-20 - training camp, Pretoria academy
  • November 21-24 - v Holland, Intercontinental Cup, in Pretoria
  • November 26 - v Canada, one-day international, in Potchefstroom
  • November 28 - v Holland, one-day international, in Potchefstroom
  • December 1 - v Canada, one-day international, in Pretoria
  • December 2 - v Holland, one-day international, in Pretoria
  • December 4 - Depart for Bermuda