Local pitches a big problem, says Boycott

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Geoffrey Boycott believes that the key to improving cricket in Bermuda lies in a complete overhaul of the Island’s sporting infrastructure.

The former Yorkshire and England batsman said the first thing Bermuda Cricket Board needed to do was deal with the sub-standard pitches, and also set about building a proper indoor facility that would benefit the whole Island.

While Boycott acknowledged that getting funding for such a project might be difficult at first, he said the BCB needed ‘a dynamic person interested in cricket to get it over to the MPs that it would be good for everybody’.

That same person would also need to convince Government to change their policy on importing soil, because he believes that is the only way of improving pitches, something that in turn would also improve players’ abilities.

“The soil you have is a reddish soil that crumbles too easily,” said Boycott. “I’ve already spoken to the Minister for Sport . . . the BCB need to get them on board to let them bring in a different soil.

“You need to get a better type of soil that binds because the 22 yards we play on is everything. It is everything, it dictates what the ball does, how it reacts, it dictates the make up of the team, do you bat first, bat second, are people going to be able to apply their skill or not.

“Ask these (professional) golfers if they can putt on bumpy greens, they wouldn’t putt so bloody good then would they. Ask those snooker players, who have snooker tables that are spirit level perfect, ask them if they could pot the ball on a bumpy table.

“It’s the same with cricket, it’s grass it’s not artificial, there is a great skill, a great knowledge, that goes into preparing really good pitches that give everybody, batsman and bowler, a fair chance to express their skills.

“I think that is the first thing you need to do.”

Fixing the wickets is only part of the problem and Boycott also believes that an indoor school is essential if Bermuda are to climb back up the Associate rankings.

A lack of decent facilities on the Island means that the game is not practised as much as it should be in the winter months, and said pointing to Bermuda’s current Division Three ranking was no excuse not to have one.

“You need to get an indoor school because once November comes you’re struggling,” he said. “Almost everybody in the world has indoor (facilities), places like Hong Kong have them.

“It’s no good saying well Bermuda are in Division Three, Hong Kong are down there and they’ve got an indoor centre so they can practice and train people. You can’t just wait for the summer months, it’s the same for golfers, golfers don’t just switch off for six months do they.

“Nowadays everybody is practising like mad with coaches and honing their skills and you need to do that at cricket.”

However, Boycott said that any indoor centre wouldn’t have to be just for the national team, it would be for the whole community, and pointed to one at Yorkshire’s home ground of Headingley as a prime example of what could be achieved if Government and the BCB worked in tandem.

“Once you can convince MPs that this is not some tiny elitist little group that’s going to use it you’re getting somewhere,” he said. “You have to get it into their heads that everyone is going to use it because Bermuda cricket isn’t going to want it between school hours, they’re all at work.

“We have one in Leeds that would be ideal for the Government (to see) and it’s an idea that works in practice. We (Yorkshire CCC) were helped by Leeds City Council, who put a lot of money in and what they get back for that, all the schools around Leeds use the centre, which is six laned, in school time.

“It’s not a question of just giving money and not being sure what you get back for it, you’d get back for all of the children in Bermuda, every school would be allowed to use it, so it’s for the whole community. Every child gets the chance to play cricket, to be taught cricket but it would also help the Bermuda Cricket Board when it comes to their better players.

“Bermuda needs some dynamic person interested in cricket to get it over to the MPs that it is a good use for everybody.”

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Published Oct 7, 2011 at 8:20 am (Updated Oct 7, 2011 at 8:18 am)

Local pitches a big problem, says Boycott

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