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Football or cricket . . . does anyone care?

Cricketers playing football, footballers playing cricket . . . does it matter?

More to the point, does anyone care? It’s just another storm in a teacup.

National cricket team skipper Janeiro Tucker and his fellow squad member Dion Stovell played for Southampton Rangers against Hamilton Parish on Sunday. Furthermore both got on the scoresheet in a 3-1 victory.

All hell broke loose at Bermuda Cricket Board. They launched an investigation. How dare they disobey our orders ahead of next month’s World Cup Twenty20 tournament?

But oops, their own national coach Arnold Manders told Tucker ‘go ahead and play’.

Another rift in cricket’s governing body. It was only earlier this year that the BCB decided to abandon the old league format and implement new one which lumped all the clubs together in one division. Despite protests from their top players, they went ahead.

Similarly, Tucker and Stovell ignored advice and went ahead and laced up their football boots.

At least the two Rangers players felt what it’s like to win. Playing cricket for the national team, they lost that feeling years ago. And it’s unlikely that whatever goes on in Dubai will jog their memory.

Can anyone remember when the national team won, or for that matter who they played?

Sadly, in Bermuda, cricket is a dying sport.

In Afghanistan, people are more adept at waving guns than waving cricket bats. Until recently, most Afghans had never seen a cricket bat, let alone play the game. Yet their national team qualified for the World Cup and the celebrations went on for days. What a contrast to what’s happening here.

Afghanistan’s success will have a global impact on the sport.

But here in Bermuda, dismissing Cup Match and Eastern Counties, more people will attend the World Rugby Classic in a couple of weeks time than those who have watched cricket throughout the entire summer.

The Royal Gazette website and Facebook page show that very few are interested in cricket or the shambolic way it’s run. Football commands far more interest.

Our readers enjoy following the progress of Nahki Wells at Bradford City and the other Bermudians who are moving through the ranks in smaller clubs.

Athletics, cycling, triathlon, swimming and sailing seem to be among the sports which catch the eye. More people are more participating in those sports than ever before. More go to the gym, jog or walk to keep fit (our cricketers should try it some time).

Tucker and Stovell are exhibiting some kind of fitness by kicking a football. Some in the national cricket team don’t bother about training. Why attend sessions when you’re not going to win anyway?

Cynical perhaps.

But one gets the sense that Tucker, Stovell, Malachi Jones, Allan Douglas and other squad players get as much enjoyment playing football as they do cricket. Nobody enjoys losing, particularly when it becomes a habit.

The fact is that — at the amateur level — many young people play a variety of sports.

Even at the professional level, it wasn’t unknown for top sportsmen to divide their time between different sports.

England cricket legend Ian Botham regularly played centre half for Scunthorpe in the third tier of the English Football League. He also played for Yeovil Town.

Many years ago Dennis Compton was an English international in both cricket and football.

It wouldn’t happen these days.

But among amateurs, such as Tucker and Stovell, does it honestly matter? All contact sports carry a risk of injury.

Do the pros outweigh the cons? Any activity is better than none at all. And some of our cricketers aren’t exactly models of athleticism.

So let’s see what happens in Dubai. Odds are Tucker will be among the top runscorers, as he usually is. And if he fails, will it have anything to do with the fact he’s spent as much time on the football pitch as he did on the cricket pitch?

* * * *

The Royal Gazette’s Colin Thompson has been ‘banned’ by the BCB from asking difficult questions — or at least they won’t answer him.

‘We won’t respond to your e-mails or telephone calls’ they told our sports reporter.

On controversial issues which they create themselves, they rarely respond anyway.