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Governor will follow Somerset Cricket Club’s wishes

Storm damage: the Somerset Cricket Club boundary wall on Clyde Best Lane in Sandys (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Governor yesterday said he would follow the wishes of Somerset Cricket Club over the presentation of the Cup Match trophy.

John Rankin spoke after Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, told the House of Assembly on Friday that the Queen’s representative in Bermuda should not present the cup to the winners of the annual cricket classic between Somerset, this year’s hosts, and St George’s.

A Government House spokeswoman said: “The Governor is well aware of the importance of Cup Match and its significance in marking emancipation from slavery.

“The decision on who is invited to present the cup is a free and independent one for Somerset Cricket Club to make.

“The Governor will be happy to support the event respectfully and in the way judged most appropriate by the Club and Cup Match organisers”.

Colonel Burch said in the House of Assembly he had been approached about repairs to a wall at the edge of Somerset Cricket Club — but had said he would agree to the rebuild if the club agreed not to invite Mr Rankin to present the cup. He added: “I think if people look at it historically, this is a celebration of emancipation of slaves.

“So why would we still accept, in 2018, inviting he who enslaved us to come and not only celebrate with us but also be the person who presents the cup.”

Slavery in the then British Empire was abolished by an Act of Parliament, which came into force in 1834.

Michael Dunkley, Shadow national security minister and a former premier, agreed that the head of government should present the cup.

Erwyn Bean, a former Somerset Cricket Club president, declined to comment on the controversy.

But he said the wall on the club’s border with Clyde Best Lane was damaged in a hurricane two years ago.

Temporary fencing has been in use since then.

Mr Bean said: “It doesn’t look good. We use the back area for stalls and while there are barriers up, it would cost us about 6ft of space.

“But I have been made to understand that the club members are going to get together and start building it back.”