The Royal Gazette masthead

The indiscipline and self-interest that has plagued Bermuda's national cricket team in the recent past has risen again, just days into a training programme dedicated to preparing the squad for their busy 2008 schedule.

Of the 23 players selected for the senior squad, just six turned up for the first day's training on Monday, seven on Tuesday, and 10 made it on Wednesday.

It is believed that the majority of senior players, including several who played at last year's World Cup, did not show up despite making a commitment to the Bermuda Cricket Board (BCB) to do so.

Among those who have not attended any of the sessions is Lionel Cann, and he has now made himself unavailable for selection.

"We have been trying to track down the guys who haven't shown up," said national coach Gus Logie. "But on a small island like this it can be quite difficult. All we want is for them to have the courtesy to call us and let us know what is going on."

Cann claims that family commitments, which he apparently didn't have when he agreed to attend the training sessions, now prevent him from doing so.

"The Board can confirm that due to personal and family commitments, Mr Lionel Cann has declined the invitation to train with the national squad at this time," said the BCB.

The St George's captain is understood to have had designs on the national team captaincy and is thought to have been upset by the re-appointment of Irving Romaine.

Cann reportedly contacted the BCB only last week and outlined his commitment to the national team, at the expense of his role as captain of the St George's Cup Match side. He said as much publicly only a month ago.

"When it comes to the crunch I'll go with Bermuda," he said. "Country should come first in all cases."

While it's understood that he does have pressing family commitments that he can't ignore, a source within the BCB said: "We wouldn't like to speculate on whether or not that is the case, but we think it's quite clear why he has made himself unavilable."

The whole situation, Cann's withdrawal and the senior players not turning up for training, is endemic of a problem that continues to haunt Bermuda cricket. Some observers have complained that the players want the fame and the adulation, but a large proportion of them have been unwilling, or unable, to put in the hard work necessary.

Last week at the Bermuda Sports Awards, where World Cup players such as Malachi Jones were honoured for their achievements, Premier Dr Ewart Brown said his Government were "committed to sport in a serious way, we only ask that you (the athletes) meet us half way.

"We are committed to the development of sport, not to the playing of games. We want the best players that Bermuda can produce, irrespective of our size or numbers, we believe that we have some of the best talent in the world in Bermuda."

In the past Logie has admitted that talent will only go so far, while hard work was also needed if Bermuda were to compete on the world stage. And it now appears that the BCB are ready to get tough with certain members of the squad they feel are jeopardising the potential of the national team.

"I think I can honestly say that the board have taken away almost every excuse that a person could come up with for not attending training, not wanting to play for Bermuda" said vice-president Allen Richardson.

"I think in the past we had no other choice to a certain extent, we had to tolerate certain things. But I think that we have reached the stage now that we are just not going to tolerate it. If you don't want to play for the country and put the effort in, then I'm sorry, that's it.

"We are now demanding, as well as the public are demanding, that we get value for our money. And if you don't want to play then we will find the people that do, and spend time with them."

The influx of a number of younger players into the squad would seem to suggest that the board have already begun to move in that direction, and while the BCB have no plans to make a public example of someone, there is now a scheme in place that will see files kept on everything that occurs on, and off, the field.

"I think gone are the days of tolerating any nonsense," said Richardson. "I don't think we need to make an example of someone now, I just think we need to be consistent with what we do, and what we demand, and take each case on its merits.

"We have put certain rules and regulations in place and you either abide by them or you don't, but we have to be consistent in what we are doing.

"We (the board and the coaches) also have to have documentation in place, so we can say 'this is why (a player has been disciplined)'.

"Any player that is not adhering to the programme, any player that we feel is a detriment to the programme, and is not pulling their weight, they will eventually cut themselves loose. But we as a board have to make sure that we have the documentation in order to show why we are doing certain things."