Drysdale’s Column: Call to Arms

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Anybody who has watched the Olympics in all their coruscating glory during the last fortnight can’t help but be impressed at the fashion in which positivity has thrived in Rio.

Whether cheering on champions or supporting underdogs, and irrespective of the sport, from athletics and swimming to diving, trampolining, dressage, table tennis and rugby sevens, the spectacle has made for tremendous entertainment.

Indeed, one of the most obvious questions is why cricket has been absent from the Brazilian party. It won’t be there in 2020 either, even though the date of those Games in Japan would have been the perfect opportunity to introduce a 20/20 event.

But, perhaps typically in a summer characterised by dithering, muddle, procrastination and guddle from the ICC, we are no nearer seeing a grand vision emerge for the sport.

There’s no progress on the two-tier Test structure, for instance.  No move forward on creating an international structure which works for the good of the elite and the Associates. No sign, if truth be told, that the ICC even recognises what a mess their pursuit has become.

Closer to home, Scotland continues to be torn between the occasional green shoot of promise and potential and the nagging feeling that the game is stagnating for want of a bolder, broader narrative.

Since I started writing for CricIndex, I’ve received plenty of messages, the majority of them supportive, in my efforts to promote cricket, regardless of class, gender or background.

And, no matter that I often disagree with Cricket Scotland, I genuinely believe their officials are committed to doing the utmost they can to spread the gospel and emphasise the virtues of inclusivity.

So why the sense of disenchantment? Why the suspicion that nothing significant is happening because the Scots are trapped in a classic Catch-22 situation?

Namely, they can’t secure high-profile fixtures without the assistance of the ICC. But the latter have made it clear they are flinging all their cash at Afghanistan and Ireland and, hence, we keep going round and round in circles.

That’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t get excited about their victories over the UAE this week. The reality is that we SHOULD be beating these quality of opponents and doing it with the brio displayed by Kyle Coetzer, Preston Mommsen and Calum MacLeod.

Yes, it was a morale-boosting series triumph. But, let’s face it, the only matches which mattered this summer, in terms of making the ICC sit up and take notice,  were the tussles with Afghanistan last month – and we lost the one game which was spared by the weather.

Off the pitch, the national governing body try hard, but, as the Olympics have demonstrated, Dad’s Army-style amateurism doesn’t win you any prizes. Personally, I regard some of the criticism I hear about Cricket Scotland as being unfair. But only some of it….

As for the rest, there’s a lack of coherent strategy, a swithering over the best way forward, and an inclination to view any opposing views as treasonable.

I’ve offered plenty of decent ideas this summer – a European Championship, a genuine month-long Twenty 20 event and others – but all I’ve heard back is that I should “get behind the team”. It’s a facile argument, one which is all the more absurd because CricIndex has been one of the few success stories, in terms of media exposure for the game.

Not that you would guess it from Cricket Scotland. Instead, there’s a siege mentality, which dictates the party line will prevail whatever the argument.

We’re coming to the end of the season and I don’t detect any change in that approach. From my perspective, I think we should bring back a National Championship on Saturdays and turn Sundays into a T20 family experience across Scotland.

I also believe we should ask CS chief executive, Malcolm Cannon, to explain exactly what he wants to see happen in 2017. Even at this stage, I discern no plan, and there has never been a greater need for one.

This isn’t designed as a character assassination. To be honest, Malcolm hasn’t been helped by the myopia and complacency of many clubs who spend too much time bleating about their lot. The more progressive organisations don’t fall into that trap.

What then, would YOU like to see happen to improve the game in Scotland? Here’s your chance to join the debate.

I’ll bring you the conclusions next week.

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