West Indies cricket great Courtney Walsh has warned Bermuda “pride is at stake” when the hosts take on his Melbourne Cricket Club side at Somerset CC this weekend.
Walsh is tour manager of Jamaican team Melbourne, the Kingston club he played for and that also produced fellow fast-bowling legend Michael Holding.
Former West Indies batsman Robert Samuels, brother of current Windies batsman Marlon, is the coach.
They kicked off a busy five-match tour of Bermuda last night with a Twenty20 game against the Jamaican Cricket Association.
And, after taking on Somerset CC in a Twenty20 clash tonight, they will go on to play three 50-over matches against the Bermuda national team — tomorrow, Sunday and Tuesday.
For Walsh, 50, who claimed 519 Test wickets for West Indies in an incredible career, it’s a tour he is relishing.
He told the Bermuda Sun: “It’s been overdue from a club perspective and it’s always nice to come here.
“The people are always very hospitable and I think it’s a good opportunity for both teams — and in terms of what Bermuda are looking to work towards.
“We’ve been a good team and won a couple of trophies and we want to give our players an opportunity, and it’s a reward for their success to come and parade their skills here. I think it’s a perfect fit.”
He added: “We’re looking forward to playing Bermuda. They are a national team and we are a club team but we are a champion club team and pride is at stake.
“The guys will be going out to win. I believe we have what it takes to give them a good test. They’re preparing for a big tournament (ICC Division 3) but we see ourselves as a team that can win and we’re up for it.”
Melbourne will be captained by Andre McCarthy after normal skipper Yannick Elliott was hospitalized after suffering a stroke.
Walsh said: “We’ve got a good blend in our team and I think that will excite the crowd. Andre McCarthy will step in as captain and he’s just been doing pretty well for Jamaica.
“We’ve got some exciting youngsters — I don’t want to name all our secrets but we have one or two youngsters and spinners. We have a good all-round team and that’s what I’m happy and excited about.”
Walsh, who says he’ll play if called upon by captain and coach, says he has fond memories of previous visits to Bermuda — and this time he’s targeting a 100-per-cent record.
He said: “Last time I came here was seven or eight years ago — way too long. I’m just happy to be back. I always enjoy it here. Unfortunately I don’t think we are playing at the main stadium but Somerset are our hosts and we’re just happy and excited to be a part of it.
“We’re hoping that we can win all our games.
“We’re here to play good cricket and give a good account of ourselves and we want to make sure we don’t disappoint the fans who will be coming out to watch us.”
Tonight, Melbourne play Somerset CC in a Twenty20 clash at 6:30pm.
The three 50-over games against Bermuda are on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.
All games at Somerset CC and admission is $10 per day.