Government at loggerheads over Bermuda's pitches
The long-running saga of Bermuda's sub-standard pitch at the National Sports Centre, which has prevented the country hosting internationals, continues to rumble on - and is now in the hands of the government.
The main concern surrounds the quality of the soil which was last year described by Andy Atkinson, the ICC's pitch expert, as "only suitable for growing carrots". His solution is to import better quality foreign soil, an idea supported by Bermuda's sports minister, Randy Horton, but roundly condemned by the acting Environment Minister, John Barritt who called it a "reckless" proposal.
"The United Bermuda Party disagrees in the strongest possible terms with Sports Minister Randy Horton's plan to change long-standing regulations against the importation of soil," he said on Sunday. "Most Bermudians understand the dangers of introducing alien species to this country. The cedar blight that hit our shores in the late 1940s was caused by an imported scale insect that dramatically and speedily altered the look of the island, killing off forests of our national tree."
Tests conducted on soils from different parts of the island have shown that local clay is not good enough to produce wickets of international class. The problem isn't new, either: the issue was first raised during the Americas Championship in 2004 when teams complained of the quite chronic uneven bounce of the square. Barritt is insistent that whatever measure are taken must be in the interest not only of the sport, but the environment.
"Like everyone else, I would love to have the cricket pitch at the National Sports Centre to be of the highest quality, but we do not think the government needs to endanger the flora and fauna of Bermuda to do so," he said. "The danger is too great, and our posture on this issue must be firm, with absolutely no exceptions. In this age of mass transportation, we have to be doubly vigilant to the threat from lethal species.
"The minister's out-of-the-blue proposal is reckless in its intent, and quite frightening considering the potential consequences for the country."
Will Luke is assistant editor of ESPNcricinfo