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Failing cricket makes way for football

It's almost five years ago that Bermuda's national cricket team were stitching together their final preparations for the World Cup.

They were about to create cricketing history as the tiniest nation ever to qualify for the sport's showpiece event (although history of a different kind was about to be recorded in Trinidad where their thrashings were so severe that the ICC were prompted into changing the qualification rules so as not to devalue the competition in years to come).

And it's been downhill ever since those halycon days.

Nevertheless their moment of glory sparked euphoria, the kind of which had rarely been witnessed in Bermuda.

Bermuda Football Association had no choice but to take a back seat. No matter whatever their national team achieved it would pale in comparison.

All eyes were on cricket and no other sport mattered, not even football which boasts more teams and more players at all levels than the BCB could ever hope to attract.

How things have changed.

When the cricket team arrives back from Dubai this weekend, the North Village team which won the Premier Division title a year ago will be in Cayman Islands to take on two local sides in the first round of one of Concacaf's premier football tournaments, the CFU club championships.

Which will be of more interest?

You can bet the cricket team won't get a particularly warm welcome other than that offered by their families.

As one person who stopped me in the street this week commented: 'It's not a national sport any more, it's a national embarrassment.”

A rather harsh assessment but one that might be shared by other cricket fans.

Under former English pro Shaun Goater, Village have become a formidable club team even though they couldn't defend their title this year, and they'd no doubt admit Dandy Town were worthy winners.

If they can play the kind of football of which they're capable, they could make it through the first round and book a ticket to Trinidad where the opposition will be slightly tougher. But they won't be humiliated.

They'll be wonderful ambassadors, not only for football but Bermuda Goater won't tolerate anything less.

As football ambassadors themselves Goater and Clyde Best have already set the benchmark.

Village's players can restore some international pride which unfortunately the cricket team haven't been able to do for several years.

The abysmal results in Dubai may have hammered the final nail in the coffin.

We've shown we can't play the four-day game, the 50-over game or the Twenty20 game. We've failed miserably in all formats.

Our best chance of achieving some kind of respectability was in the shorter version where patience is thrown out of the window, making way for sheer aggression.

If we had more players in the mould of Janeiro Tucker, Dion Stovell and Kamau Leverock, all of whom excelled in the Middle East, we might have threatened to add to the solitary victory that was recorded from seven matches.

Much has been said about the team in the media.

Wendell Smith, the former Cup Match and national team skipper who's considered an astute student of the game, might have said it best when he commented in this newspaper that we took the wrong players and employed the wrong tactics.

That combination was always going to spell disaster.

Coach David Moore would argue he had little choice picking his squad in that the some Twenty20 players didn't make themselves available for training.

But perhaps there were others who weren't invited.

Certainly many of those who did travel to Dubai just weren't suited to this type of cricket, skipper David Hemp included. He put up some respectable scores but with far too many dot balls. Others were guilty of the same offence.

For some reason Lionel Cann wasn't firing on all cylinders in the type of game he relishes, although he did finish with a flourish, smacking 73 in a losing cause against USA yesterday.

Only Tucker and Stovell showed the type of hostility required.

As for the tactics employed, the batting order selected by Moore raised a few eyebrows. Why, for instance, was Rodney Trott pencilled in at number 10?

But would it have made any difference where he or others batted? It's unlikely.

We now have to accept that as a national sport we can't even compete with the likes of Hong Kong, Nepal, Denmark or other nations which are still considered cricket minnows.

Perhaps the only mitigating fact we can cite is that every player on the squad was actually born in Bermuda.

Very few, if any, of the other countries can make that claim. Pakistanis and Indians seem to have inflitrated an awful lot of other so-called national teams.

However, to use that as a reason for the Island team's dismal performances might be seen as a lame excuse.

As was the case in 2007, it's the BCB's turn to take a back seat and let the likes of North Village and Dandy Town, who will appear in the CFU tournament next year, to fly the flag. And that might be the case for some years to come.

ADRIAN ROBSON

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Published March 23, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 23, 2012 at 9:23 am)

Failing cricket makes way for football

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