Racism, rows and a walk-off tarnish 'friendly' one-dayers
Bermuda travelled to Africa for the Intercontinental Cup finals in a confident and optimistic mood, but they will return home deflated after a semi-final defeat by Ireland and losses to Namibia in two highly unsatisfactory one-dayers.
The form book suggested that Kenya would be too strong for Bermuda, themselves something of a surprise package in the finals, and so it proved, although Bermuda's batting came through with flying colours. The problem was the bowling, although on shirt-front pitches bowling Kenya out twice was never going to be easy, and a skewed points system meant Bermuda were up against it from the moment they lost the toss.
After going out of the competition, Bermuda played two one-dayers against Namibia, but there was a climate of hostility throughout, and this spilled over in the second game when Gus Logie, the coach, withdrew his side from the field in protest at three successive bouncers aimed at tailender Kevin Hurdle by Kola Burger.
The sides clashed during the ICC Trophy in Ireland in July, and the anger was quick to resurface. Both coaches took swipes at the other. Logie accused the Namibians of dangerous play and said that they were sore over failing to qualify for the World Cup, while Andy Waller, his opposite number, said Bermuda were cry babies who did not deserve to their own spot at the event.
The first game on Thursday had already been tarnished after accusations by the Bermuda players that they had been racially abused by the Namibians, and the umpires were forced to step in. It was much the same on Saturday.
But the scene grew almost farcical when Burger peppered the No. 10 Hurdle with bouncers, even though Bermuda were staring at inevitable defeat. The first was called a wide by Roger Dill, Bermuda's umpire, and the second as a no-ball. Dill then warned Burger for intimidatory bowling. When Burger quite deliberately sent down another short-pitched ball, Logie had had enough and called the batsmen off. As they milled around, a number of players could clearly be seen arguing and one unnamed Namibian player had to be restrained by his team-mates. The post-match press conference was lively.
"We are in the World Cup, they are not and that is their problem," said Logie, who was obviously livid. "If they have a point to prove and think they can prove it by bowling like that against our No. 11 batsman then I am not just going to stand by and watch. I did call them off and I did it for their own safety. This is a practice match and I am not going to put my players at risk."
Waller was equally blunt. "It is just not acceptable for this type of match and I'm not happy about it. You'd expect a bit more from a team who are meant to be preparing for a World Cup. I've never seen anything like it in all my years in cricket."
And then, warming to his task, he slammed the Bermuda side and warned them that they better be ready for more of the same. "I can't see why they are getting upset at that sort of bowling ... this is a guy bowling at 130 kmh, and teams in the World Cup are going to be going a lot faster than that. If they can't handle this, they are really going to struggle. There was some talk about sledging and some complaints from some of their guys but, again, they have to be able to handle that. It's a part of cricket and it is something they are going to have to deal with if they are going to play in international matches."
By this time, Waller was in overdrive, and he had a swipe at Bermuda's fitness. "I just don't think these guys look like they are prepared to compete at this level. You only have to look at these guys to see they are not yet ready to cope with the demands of this level of cricket ... they have a lot more work to do on the fitness front."
The Bermuda Cricket Board backed Logie's decision and added that there would be a full investigation. The Namibian Cricket Board declined to comment until it had all the facts in front of it.