Monday 28 July 2008 

Leverock Believes Age Irrelevant Ahead Of T20 Qualifier

Bermuda spinner Dwayne Leverock believes age is irrelevant to a sportsman as he heads off to Belfast, Ireland this week to take part in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier to be played at Stormont from 2 to 5 August.

Leverock, who celebrated his 37th birthday earlier this month, is one of the most senior competitors in this short and sharp format of the game along with team-mate David Hemp, Kenya’s Steve Tikolo and Kennedy Otieno, Scotland’s Colin Smith and the Canadian trio of John Davison, Sanjay Thuraisingam and Sunil Dhaniram.

"I am playing cricket because I still enjoy and love the game. I believe a player should continue to play as long as he thinks he is enjoying it and making a valuable contribution to the cause of the team," said Leverock who weighs in 20 stones (280lbs).

"I don’t see myself ageing. I am still competitive and really enjoying it. My age has nothing to do with how I play, or my attitude," he said.

Besides sixth seed Bermuda, the teams featuring in the four-day tournament are host Ireland, Canada, Kenya, Netherlands and Scotland and at stake are two or possibly three places in the ICC World Twenty20 2009 being staged in England.

Both finalists will qualify for that tournament which will take place at Lord’s, The Oval and Trent Bridge next June.

The third place, to be decided by a third and fourth-place play-off, is dependent on Zimbabwe Cricket’s Board ratifying a decision taken by its officials during ICC Annual Conference week, to step back from the tournament.

"I am still passionate about the sport. I prepare for every match as best I can and a defeat still hurts me as much as it used to. I still celebrate every victory as much as I used to when I was in my 20s. And it is all because I am thoroughly enjoying the game," said Leverock.

"As you start getting older, you have to increase your training and workout sessions to keep pace with the youngsters around you and that is exactly what I do to keep myself match-fit."

Leverock caught the attention of the world with a remarkable one-handed catch to dismiss India opener Robin Uthappa in an ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 match in Trinidad.

Leverock has played 27 ODIs and 14 first-class matches since 2004 and in those forms of the game has taken 32 and 65 wickets respectively.

On Bermuda’s ICC Intercontinental Cup debut in the USA, he took 7-57 with his left-arm spin in a losing cause. A year later he grabbed 11-72 in the same competition against the Cayman Islands. He also played a key role in Bermuda qualifying for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 by taking 4-39 against the USA and 3-34 against the UAE in the 2005 ICC World Cup Qualifier (formerly the ICC Trophy).

Leverock said his slow bowling could be useful to the team. "I think my low trajectory left-arm spinners can play a big role. I can also be flexible as the situation demands.

"I can play a containment role but at the same time I can bowl aggressively with an attempt to take wickets. All will depend in what situation I am bowling and what the captain wants from me.

"I think all the teams will start on an even keel in this tournament as none of the sides have played enough Twenty20 matches. I think it will all come down to who holds the nerves better," said Leverock.

Leverock said his team would rely on a team effort in an attempt to earn next year’s ticket to England. “We will play our brand of cricket and rely on each other as much as we do in any match or tournament.

"The experience of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 was tremendous and we also enjoyed the event. For all those who were there, it was the highlight of their careers and we look forward to a similar experience next year in England."

Leverock is a police officer by profession and admits he enjoys his celebrity status in Bermuda. "I am very well recognized and it is all because of cricket. It is a good feeling to be known amongst the masses.

"When I deal with criminals, I am a different person. I understand it can become complicated but it depends entirely upon you how you deal with the situation, and I don’t allow my celebrity status and my professional role to get mixed-up."

Leverock paid tribute to team coach Gus Logie, a former West Indies batsman who played 52 Tests and 158 ODIs between 1981 and 1993. "He is a knowledgeable coach and brings with him wealth of experience.

"He gives us information which only helps us become better cricketers. It is an honour and great privilege to work with him.

"Bermuda cricket is heading in the right direction and very recently our U/13 and U/17 teams made successful tours of the West Indies. I am sure our cricket will get better with more opportunities," he said.

Bermuda, captained by middle-order batsman Irving Romaine, is going through a transitional phase and includes just six players who were part of the squad that played in the ICC Cricket World Cup in the West Indies in 2007.

Besides Romaine and Leverock, those who were in the West Indies are David Hemp, Stefan Kelly, Stephen Outerbridge and Oliver Pitcher while the newcomers are Rodney Trott, Chris Foggo, James Celestine, Oronde Bascome, Tamauri Tucker, George O’Brien, Kyle Hodsoll and Jekon Edness who replace Delyone Borden, Lionel Cann, Malachi Jones, Dean Minors, Saleem Mukuddem, Clay Smith, Janeiro Tucker, Kevin Hurdle and Kwame Tucker.

The 37-year-old David Hemp remains Bermuda’s star player. Hemp, who captains Glamorgan in the county championship in the UK, has played in 42 domestic T20 matches and has a strike-rate of little under 123 runs per 100 balls.

In Bermuda’s 257-run defeat against India in the ICC Cricket World Cup, Hemp scored an unbeaten 76.

Hemp missed Bermuda’s tour to Canada earlier this month where it played a three-match ODI series and an ICC Intercontinental Cup match. Bermuda won the ODI series 2-1 and also won the ICC Intercontinental Cup match by 106 runs.

The ODI series was dominated by middle-order batsman Outerbridge who scored 106 runs while Leverock was the star of the ICC Intercontinental Cup victory as he recorded figures for 10-129 to spin Bermuda to its first victory in the tournament.

© ICC