Football has helped me get in shape, says Janeiro
Allowing national team cricketers to play football with their clubs ahead of a major tournament is always an issue for the Bermuda Cricket Board.
Injuries are the major concern, but in the case of Janeiro Tucker, a stint of football with Southampton Rangers’ Premier Division team has left him in the best shape he has been in years ... about 20 pounds lighter and looking forward to the upcoming trip to Barbados with the national team. Even his troublesome knees are feeling better, the veteran all-rounder is happy to report.
Tucker did pick up an injury back in early October when he suffered a hamstring strain and some questioned the wisdom of that decision, but since then he has been looking fitter and sharper and so it could be a win-win situation for himself, his club and his country.
“They (BCB) haven’t said anything about playing football but I have been using it as a fitness part of my game as well,” said Tucker who turns 38 next month and will be the oldest player in the squad which departs today for Barbados.
“I’ve been working hard on my fitness in cricket and football and plus doing my extras and that’s where the fitness part has come up a lot.”
Once a feared striker Tucker has been playing with Rangers this season as a midfielder, and even though he picked up that early injury he has looked sharper and fitter in the last couple of months.
“With the fitness and losing about 20 pounds it has taken a strain off my knees so my knees feel like they are in perfect health now,” said the veteran sportsman who holds the record as the highest scorer for Somerset in Cup Match.
As the most experienced player in the squad for the Barbados trip, Tucker will carry huge expectations in the absence of key players like captain Stephen Outerbridge, Lionel Cann and former captain David Hemp during the weeklong trip.
“I’m ready to go, being mentally prepared and physically prepared has helped me out a lot,” he stated. “With cricket it is going to be more mental because I’m the oldest guy in the team and I’ll be trying to help out the younger guys and do good on this training camp and bring momentum back for the next tour in March and then the main tournament in April, the ICC (Division 3) Tournament.
“I’ve been trying to keep the fitness going with cricket and football and have been doing that for the duration of the (football) season. The (hamstring) injury was from me not playing football in a number of years and trying to adjust back to the strain of it. Once I got that sorted out and then continued putting in the fitness work with Rangers and the cricket, it helped out a lot.”
Tucker doesn’t know if he will return to football with Rangers before the end of the season, but he is satisfied in the knowledge that he helped put the team in a good position in the league. They are also in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup this weekend.
“With Rangers we did a lot of pre-season training at Horseshoe Bay and that really started me off, running on the beach,” he said. “I really wasn’t going to play any football, I just wanted to get fit and play one or two games here and there, but once the fitness came and then the coach said ‘we want you to play’ it went from there.
“With Rangers they are not going to go down so I have left them in a pretty good state. But I’m always willing to help them out when needed because that’s my club. But at the end of the day I’m still focused on and committed to the cricket programme, too.
“My main focus with Rangers was to help them out, help out the younger guys and keep them up in the Premier Division. We won’t go down with 20 points.”