No one had a bigger year than Sluggo
Wednesday, January 09, 2008 11:00 AM
World Cup spin king Dwayne Leverock was the clear winner of the people's vote for Bermuda Sun Male Sports Personality of the Year - taking the title for the second year in succession.
The burly cricketer won the hearts of sports fans across the globe with his memorable bowling performance against England in the World Cup warm ups and a surprisingly athletic slip catch in the tournament proper against India.
'That catch', a diving one-handed effort off the bowling of Malachi Jones, has been one of the most replayed pieces of sporting action in 2007.
Since the World Cup, Sluggo has remained one of Bermuda's most consistent bowlers and has been recognized everywhere.
Here the 36-year-old police constable reflects with James Whittaker on a year that saw him become an international icon.
Has 2007 been a particularly memorable year for you?
It has been a memorable year. Obviously there was the World Cup, but also travelling with the national team since then has been an eye opener.
A lot of people do recognize me now, which surprised me. I noticed it most coming through Heathrow on our tour of Europe. English people, Indians, Sri Lankans, anyone who knew cricket seemed to recognize me.
Quite a few came up and asked for a picture or an autograph, which is a nice feeling.
What were your personal highlights?
Obviously the catch was one of my highlights and the two wickets I took against England. To be bowling to players of the calibre of Flintoff, Pietersen and Collingwood and to get figures of that nature was eye opening.
Both of them (the catch and the bowling spell against England) are highlights I will never forget - doing them on the world stage.
You got a lot of plaudits for dismissing Kevin Pietersen. What do you remember about that moment?
Pieterson's delivery. I saw he was trying to come down the wicket and I thought he would toss it up higher and wider. He came down the track, tried to drive, missed and Dean took off the bails. With Collingwood it was just a delivery that pitched on off stump and turned in a bit. I wasn't trying to do nothing special, just do what I do every week.
Did you expect your performance against England to get the kind of reaction it got?
It was all over the papers. I was doing all kinds of interviews from St Vincent. I was on Sky Sports with Tim Abrahams, on the cellphone to Radio Five Live.
I heard it was on the back page of every paper in England.
I knew I'd done something pretty good but I didn't expect the coverage to be that huge. People are still sending me newspaper clippings and articles from different papers! It was on the various papers reviews of the year and the websites and then the catch was catch of the year on CricInfo.
Do you remember much about the catch or was it just an instinctive thing?
I remember the whole thing. Malachi Jones was walking back to his mark and I said to Dean (Minors) I think something is coming here, we better be ready.
Robin (Uthappa) pushed forward away from his body and edged. I said to myself 'this is what we just talked about - I better not let it through'.
I watched it all the way. If you look at the picture you can see me looking at the ball right into my hand. That's how Gus (Logie) has taught me to catch.
What about the celebration. That was a pretty impressive moment in itself.
I saw Mali running one way and a group of players following him, so I said I got to run the opposite way.
Then Irving Romaine tried to lift me up - I thought I was going to crack my back.
After doing so well against England was it disappointing not to do as well against India and Sri Lanka in the World Cup?
I know that every day I am not going to get wickets. We were up against teams that can play spin very well and the pitches did not suit me as well.
It was a learning experience and I took a lot away from those performances. You learn from your bad days as well as your good days and I think it helped me to become more of a thinking bowler.
Outside of the World Cup what were the highlights of the year?
I bowled well in Kenya and Europe. On those tours I really felt like I was doing the job of a senior bowler. It was particularly good to do well against Kenya. They were in the World Cup as well and they have quality players like Steve Tikolo and Maurice Odumbe. You still have to bowl very well to get good figures against that kind of opposition.
I try to thrive on leading from the front as far as the team is concerned, I say to the fast bowlers - 'don't save nothing for me... cause when it's my turn I'm not going to save nothing for you... I'm looking to get as many wickets as possible'.
Is it frustrating to put in good performances yourself and still end up on the losing side nine times out of ten?
It gets a bit frustrating, but I'm looking at the total picture. If we can set a platform for youngsters coming through to learn the processes that the coach has been trying to teach us then they can get better as they grow.
Did you ever think you would achieve what you have?
I always had a dream of playing in the World Cup but I never really thought it would happen until maybe late 2004.
A few of us - Irving Romaine, Clay Smith, Dean Minors, myself - sat down after an early training session and said this could be our last opportunity, after coming so close so many times, this could be our last chance to qualify in Ireland.
Making it through the ICC Trophy in Ireland opened up a lot of doors for Bermuda cricket.
What does Bermuda have to do to have a chance of requalifying in 2009?
I just think we have to go back and work hard and concentrate on the processes that the coach gives us and to be unified as a team. That's what got us to the World Cup in the first place.
Would you like to be there at World Cup 2011?
I would be. I'd have to re-assess how the old bones feel. I'll be 38 in 2011 and it's a lot of travelling and a lot of time since we got one-day status - we are involved in a lot of tournaments.
But I wouldn't mind playing another one - particularly in India and Pakistan (where the 2011 World Cup will be held). Those are my teams and I'd love to bowl on those wickets.