A Cricketer’s View of Bermuda

by Bob Simpson

Bob (far left) with the 1961 Australian test cricket team aboard P&O Himalaya
Bob (far left) with the 1961 Australian test cricket team aboard P&O Himalaya

This story was written by Bob Simpson AO, AM
Former Australian Test Cricket Captain

Cricket has enabled me to travel to many parts of the world, such as England, Scotland, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, The West Indies, Nepal, The Nederlands, Denmark, Malta, Ireland, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. But my favourite destination is Bermuda, where I coached the national cricket team.

Having just visited Bermuda’s beautiful shores again as part of Dawn Princess’ 2011 World Cruise, I had cause to reflect on the cricket I have seen around the globe.

With a backdrop of The Himalayas, cricket flourishes in beautiful Nepal and only a few years ago they won the under 19 World Championship. With only about 75 minutes flying time to Delhi, the Nepalese are inundated with TV coverage of cricket. Indeed, during my stay in Katmandu on one occasion, I could watch test matches beamed in live from three difference countries.

Cricket has been played in Malta for more than 100 years and while I holidayed there on one occasion I was able to watch a match between the Malta National Team and “The Crows.” The Crows from New Zealand were led by Russell Crowe, who was at the time making Gladiator in Malta, and contained two of his cousins, New Zealand test cricketers Martin and Jeffrey Crowe.

Even in Greece, I was able to view a lovely cricket oval in the centre of Corfu’s main city as I travelled with my wife, Meg, on a seven-day Mediterranean cruise from Venice. As I stood viewing the oval, our guide was discussing cricket and claimed that Greece had just won the Cricket World Cup.

As I was mulling over these claims, a very English voice came from amongst my fellow passengers: “I bet he doesn’t know who you are”. In discussion with this man, he revealed he was a cricket tragic. He hadn’t seen me play for over 30 years and I was amazed he recognized me after all that time.

Cricket fans can be fanatics but none more so than an American I ran into in Karachi, Pakistan. His name was also Bob Simpson and he had an amazing amount of knowledge about my career, including my batting and bowling statistics. I was to run into him all over the cricketing world on numerous occasions.

Though not in Bermuda….

What is it that I love so much about Bermuda?

I first went there in 1978 on the way home from a tour of the West Indies. It was the period when I made a comeback to test cricket during the upheaval of World Series Cricket.

I also went there twice as Australia’s coach in the 1990s and was approached to coach the Bermuda National Team.

This period gave me the opportunity to explore this magical island. The pink sandy beaches like Horsehoe Bay Beach, caught my attention first. I was to learn that Bermuda is surrounded by coral and the beaches were generally of fine coral.

History suggests that there are more wrecks on this coral than anywhere else in the world.

Bermuda is stuck on its own in the Atlantic Ocean and was unknown to sailors. In the time that Spain was the master of South America it is claimed the Spanish ships, loaded with plundered gold and anything of wealth they could steal, smashed into the coral reefs off Bermuda as their crew were unaware Bermuda was in direct line of the path they took to Spain.

My first impression of Bermuda was that it reminded me of parts of England. It is much brighter of course, with magical coloured houses – all with white roofs. On enquiry, “why white roofs?” I was told Bermuda doesn’t have any rivers of note and rainwater gathered from the roof was piped to water tanks underneath the kitchen.

While they have no meaningful rivers they have plenty of bridges, some large, but most small and beautiful as they join the numerous small islands which make up Bermuda.

While Princess Cruises’ ships berth at the fascinating Royal Dockyards, the smaller cruise ships still dock in the centre of Bermuda, the capital, Hamilton.

It was my first sight of Hamilton and it came as a shock seeing ships berthed just 50 yards from the main shopping area.

And what of the cricket? The Bermudians tell me that cricket was played in Hamilton when Australia was still a penal colony. It is well organized and they have a team in every state. They love the game and love to hit balls out of the grounds.

I have to say, their standard is pretty good – despite the fact they don’t have a huge population. They have one major knock out competition and this arouses much passion. Betting is huge (I wonder if the ICC knows about this), and the team that wins are heroes to all in their small community.

How good are they? They have qualified for the limited Over World Cup which suggests they can play a bit.