Colin Thompson, The Royal Gazette
Somerset's bid to wrest the coveted Cup Match trophy from rivals St.George's at Wellington Oval next month has suffered a severe blow with confirmation yesterday that former skipper Janeiro Tucker has opted not to play in this year's classic.
Earlier this week the Southampton Rangers player-coach was discreetly replaced by left-arm spinner Hasan Durham as Somerset's Cup Match skipper.
Yet while Tucker agreed that change was inevitable, he remained disillusioned over the manner in which club management dragged their feet on the issue for several weeks before eventually reaching a decision at the eleventh hour.
'I'm definitely not going to play Cup Match this year — I haven't even paid my dues,' said the veteran all-rounder.
'I'm going to take this year off and then have a rethink later down the road.'
Tucker claimed he was initially informed by club management of a possible change in leadership in May and was assured he would be kept abreast of any developments.
This, however, was not the case he claims — as the World Cup veteran was left 'completely in the dark' and only informed of Durham's appointment last Monday.
'I must admit that I was surprised because they told me they were going to get back to me within a week and it just went on and on until the rumours began to circulate that they were going to get rid of me because I lost two matches (Cup Matches) in a row,' Tucker added.
'Back in May I thought that their initial intentions were good. But I thought they were going to get back to me a long time ago. I thought I was going to receive an answer a long time ago.
'But that's the way they (management) decided to go and so now it's just a matter of where do I go from here because at the moment I really can't be bothered.'
When contacted yesterday, Somerset chairman of selectors Mark Trott declined to comment on Durham's appointment — which management have yet to publicly announce — prior to last night's executive meeting at the club.
Tucker's decision not to participate in this summer's cricket spectacle comes on the heels of top all-rounder Saleem Mukuddem's retirement from the classic and the recent loss of opening batsman Dion Stovell to injury (broken ankle).
When asked to share his thoughts on Durham's appointment, Tucker said he was 'a bit surprised' as he felt club all-rounder Jacobi Robinson might have been a more suitable choice given that the West Enders are currently going through a rebuilding phase in the wake of back-to-back defeats.
'I really thought they were going to give it (captaincy) to Jacobi, but then Hasan came out of nowhere and got it,' he added.
Tucker said he had accepted his fate and wished his former team-mates the best of luck as they bid to reclaim the trophy they lost in 2005 during a highly-charged affair.
Tucker, who made his debut in the classic in 1992 at Wellington Oval as a teenager, shares multiple Cup Match batting partnership records, has won the classic's MVP and Safe Hands Awards on numerous occasions and in 1999 became the first Somerset batsman to score a century (103 not out) in St.George's.
The top all-rounder succeeded former national team skipper Albert Steede as Somerset captain in 2005 — four years after eclipsing Lloyd James' 39-year Cup Match record for the highest individual score by setting a new mark (186) at Wellington Oval.