One of Bermuda's biggest challenges since qualifying for the World Cup has been coping with fear of the unknown while the Island continues making the necessary adjustments to playing cricket more consistently on the bigger stage.
While national coach Gus Logie has absolutely no doubt Bermuda has the potential to strive for bigger and better things, the former West Indies vice captain and coach claims that many local cricketers are either fearful of failing or being scrutinised on the world stage.
And this in turn, Logie added, has resulted in limited resources for national team selectors to choose from. Furthermore, Trinidadian Logie believes that most of the national team's shortcomings stem not from a lack of ability, but more from a lack of application.
'I think we have made some progress. But I also I think the expectations placed on this team have been way overboard. When we qualified for the World Cup I don't think many people expected what sacrifices would have to be made,' Logie said.
'I don't think we were really and truly prepared for that. I think we were just concerned with the short term qualification. But once qualification became a reality the fear factor came into play and then people and also individual players started having doubts. And this is maybe why some players never showed up for training because either they are afraid to fail, afraid of being scrutinised at the international level or doubtful of being capable of making the grade. But there is nothing wrong in trying and failing. It's only wrong when you fail to try and those who have gone out of their comfort zone to try must be commended."
'Everybody on this team has had to make some sort of adjustment in the way they play cricket, attitudes had to change and certainly more responsibility had to be taken and improvement in all aspects of our cricket had to take place. But I think this is where things are becoming a little more difficult for everyone and the higher level you progress to you are definitely going to be tested.'
And Logie admitted things can get frustrating at times, as was the case during last month's gruelling tour of the African continent where Bermuda's indifferent form prompted a tongue lashing from the usually reserved coach. 'Sometimes frustration does set in when performances are not up to the level they should be,' he continued.
'And of course as human beings we react, sometimes not the right way, and I too have expectations for the team because I know what they are capable of. And I do get upset when they don't perform because I know it's not because of their lack of skill but it's because of a lack of application. But I also think if we can apply ourselves more we will have more consistent performances and at the end of the day it's a learning process and I think I as a coach have to also be patient and understand where the players are coming from."
'Our players are not coming from a high base. . . they are coming from a lower base trying to get to a higher level and so it's going to take a long while. I think the expectations of the people of Bermuda has to be one that is tempered by understanding of where you are. I think maybe some of us have based opinions on where we are and where we should be judging possibly by years gone by.'
Logie also believes his team are constantly bombarded with criticism, something that does more harm than anything else to the their confidence.
'I think sometimes the criticism is unwarranted and there are personal issues involved, such as people may not like a certain player,' he added. 'And I think this needs to be tempered a bit and everyone needs to understand that we are all in this thing together. Bermuda's cricket depends on these guys going out there and doing well.
'The guys have qualified for the World Cup and won the Americas Championship and I think these are the things which need to be highlighted because no youngster is going to want to come into a national set up knowing that every time they perform badly they are going to be criticised and when they perform well nobody seems to care.'
Logie urged his team's critics to first measure the enormity of the challenges now facing the national team before drawing conclusions. 'People need to understand that we are now in the big leagues and there's no two-ways about it. And the sacrifices not only need to be made by the players themselves, but also by everyone else involved."
'Look at other Test playing nations - they all go through terrible times. How many years now have the West Indies been trying to turn the corner and they can't? And they have the best of everything, the money and facilities. And of course you are going to be under scrutiny on the international stage and no longer able to get away with things you did before playing in Bermuda - like challenging an umpire's decision or coming to a game unfit and getting away with it. On the international stage people are looking at you."
'Here we have Dwayne Leverock. . . how many people in Bermuda made a fuss about his size and weight back then? How many people worried before whether Clay (Smith) could run 100 metres in ten seconds flat playing for St.George's? Probably nobody. But these are now some of the things being scrutinised and so people start to fear being embarrassed and that's what you hear all of the time."
'I think we have confounded fears, but at the end of the day this is sports we are playing and so we have to utilise our strengths. For example if we are not quick in the field then we have to be strong in other areas. We don't have the fastest bowlers in the world, but we can become more consistent with the medium pacers that we have.'
Logie stressed the importance of having patience. 'The higher level we move to we must have more patience, like not hitting the ball in the air playing on bigger grounds we don't usually play on,' he said. 'These are just a few of the adjustments that we've had to make to understand that we are no longer playing on smaller grounds. We have also been exposed now to television and better umpires who know the game and rules and will not stand for simple things like showing dissent. And I think it's unfortunate these guys are now being scrutinised after all of these years.'
Logie also took issue with the international community who he claims have been over critical in their assessments of the Island's national cricket team. 'My problem has always been what has the international community done to help Bermuda to qualify? How many in the international community knew of Bermuda before we qualified? And how come now that Bermuda has qualified we are not the image they are looking for?' he questioned. 'I think this is unfair and if they understood the complexities and how difficult it is to get people involved (in the national programme) then maybe they wouldn't say some of the things they say."
'But these are the guys who continue to give it their all and are prepared to make sacrifices for the national team. And I do feel at times we haven't given them their just dues in terms of appreciating what they have achieved. What they have achieved hasn't only exposed Bermuda's cricketers, but there are also a lot of other people who have benefited from the fact that Bermuda is now on the world stage.'