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Tucker slams lack of commitment

Having his say: Tucker has broken his silence on the Bermuda national team's performance in Malaysia

Bermuda’s disastrous trip to Malaysia for the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament was doomed from the start, according to Janeiro Tucker.

The Bermuda captain said that poor preparation, a lack of commitment from some players, and a squad that simply was not good enough, all contributed to the side’s relegation to Division Four.

Last month’s dismal performance, during which Bermuda team managed just one win against Malaysia, is already the subject of a Bermuda Cricket Board inquiry, with the BCB Executive to meet on December 18 to discuss the tour review committee’s findings.

Whether they will make the results of that report public is yet to be determined, but Tucker gave his perspective on things during an interview yesterday with Ian Rawlins on Power 95FM’s Inside Sports programme.

“This was probably the hardest tour I have ever been on,” Tucker said. “We didn’t really do things we should have to prepare for the tour, and what we had [team wise] was what we had.

“Once you go to training and you see what you have, then you say ‘this is not going to be the best team’. So you try to prepare the guys that you’ve got, you’re trying to prepare them as best you can, try to tell them exactly what you’re going to be up against, what to expect.”

In the build up to the tour, attendance at training sessions was often low, with sometimes only four players turning up for practice. In the end a squad that included Onais Bascome, the St George’s youth player, as a last-minute replacement, largely picked itself.

“You can only play with what you’ve got,” Tucker said. “Whoever comes training, whoever puts in the work, then they have to go. If the team is not good enough that leaves, then there is nothing you can do. You can only take the guys who go training, and want to put in the work.”

A lack of commitment to training is not a new issue for Bermuda, and Tucker saved some of his harshest comments for the players that did not make the trip, ones who might be consider among the best that the Island has to offer.

He even went so far as to suggest that the prospect of drug testing had frightened away some senior members of previous tours.

“Players are not manning up to represent their country. In the past players were committed, they wanted it, now guys want to be given a spot and not work for it. It looks like they want a free trip.

“With drug testing, guys don’t want to stop doing whatever they are doing for a couple of months to come in a support the programme, and that’s why things are where they are,” he said.

“The guys that come out and put in the work are the ones that can pass the drugs test.”

Poor preparation at home, was compounded by infighting, and personality clashes while the team were in Malaysia did little to help matters. The capitulation to the United States in the final game, for which Tucker was dropped, was a new low in the Island’s increasingly poor displays on the international stage.

There have also been suggestions that players stopped trying towards the end and that conflicts between Tucker, and Allan Douglas, the stand-in coach, led to a poisonous atmosphere in the dressing room.

“I wanted to play [against the US], but Allan wanted to give the young guys a chance. In the end he’s the coach and you respect the coach’s decision,” Tucker said.

“I thought the guys were already taking the game for granted, we had already gone down, so they were just out there having fun. At that level you shouldn’t be just out there having fun, you should be trying to better yourself or getting a good score at the end, even if we have gone down.”

The issues that rose in Malaysia have already been the subject of yet another BCB postmortem into a failed tour. Led by Nyron Steede, the BCB vice-president, it will be discussed next week and the Board said yesterday that it would have “no further comment to make on this matter until the process has been completed.”

Tucker meanwhile would like to see a no-holds-barred clear-the-air meeting between players and officials, so that the issues presently plaguing the game on the Island can be resolved once and for all.

“We need some type of dialogue to help everybody out,” Tucker said. “Let’s talk it through so we can get Bermuda back to a higher level of cricket.”

As a member of the World Cup squad in 2007, Tucker has seen the highs and lows of the international game. Rumours of his demise however have been greatly exaggerated, and the man they call Mr Cup Match said yesterday that he had no intention of hanging up his boots any time soon.

“I can continue to play, I’m going to still come out, put in the work,” he said. “If you tell me that you don’t need me, that’s a different story. But, as long as I’m fit I can play.”