Bermuda's pitches continue to cause concern

Atkinson slams critics of importing soil

Cricinfo staff

July 5, 2007

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Andy Atkinson: 'The controversy being stirred up at the moment seems like a bunch of political claptrap' © Getty Images
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Andy Atkinson, the ICC's pitch consultant, has slammed those who argue against importing soil to try to improve the poor quality of the pitches at the National Sports Centre.

Atkinson is of the opinion that the only way the surface can be raised to a standard to allow full ODIs to be played is for soil to be brought in from overseas, but that idea has been attacked by the United Bermuda Party and local farmers, who maintain the government would be recklessly endangering the environment if they allowed such a plan.

"If you want pitches that last longer than a day and are capable of hosting international games in the future, then importing high-quality soil is the only answer and all the controversy being stirred up at the moment seems like a bunch of political claptrap to me," Atkinson, who has been reviewing the square at the venue since 2004, told The Royal Gazette.

"The square at the Sports Centre is good enough for club cricket, but when you're talking about ODIs or longer games then I'm afraid it's a no-go."

Ina report he submitted last year, Atkinson concluded that there was no local soil available which could withstand the demands of international cricket.

And in May Richard Done, the ICC's high performance manager, warned that Bermuda faced not being able to stage any ODIs on the island unless remedial action was taken, and that could lead to them forfeiting their status as an ODI-playing nation.

"The soil in Bermuda, no matter where you look, is just not strong enough, it's too sandy and won't hold together," Atkinson continued. "There are no short cuts. Soil can be imported safely and has been in other countries. As long as you are strict about sterilising it at it's place of origin as well as when it arrives in Bermuda then there won't be a problem.

"I cannot understand what all the fuss is about. I've tried everything that I know and I've been preparing pitches all over the world for the best part of 30 years. If you want to build a house, you've got to make sure it is built properly and with the right materials, otherwise it will fall down.

"I don't mean to upset people but I can only give my honest opinion and no matter what anybody else tells you, the soil is just not good enough."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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