Drysdale’s Column – ICC and Kenny MacLeod

We’ve already looked at the slightly topsy-turvy world of ICC strategy this week on CricIndex and there’s little doubt the governing body is lacking a coherent structure at the moment.

Yet the fact remains that it isn’t enough for Scottish cricket aficionados to keep bemoaning the decisions taken elsewhere outwith the Associate realm.

They might be justified in complaining about the fashion in which ICC chief executive Dave Richardson talked this week about “Nepal, Afghanistan and Ireland” becoming Test countries in the future, without even mentioning Scotland, but the truth of the matter is that Grant Bradburn’s side have done nothing in the last 18 months to transform perceptions.

Let’s ditch the hard-luck stories and disregard talk of “honourable defeats”. In the real world, these count for absolutely nothing and the bottom line is that the Scots have had several opportunities to claim wins on the international stage recently and have fallen maddeningly short.

That’s why the two ODIs against Afghanistan, which are just a month away, are so important in defining the future for the game north of the Border. If anything, these have assumed a massive significance, because they are the only fixtures all summer against higher-ranked opponents.

Frankly, the hosts will be favourites to beat UAE in Aberdeen in August and Hong Kong the following month. Even if they achieve that in comprehensive fashion, the ICC panjandrums won’t exactly be sending congratulatory messages.

But the brace of one-day tussles with Mo Shahzad and his compatriots are a different matter. All the momentum is with these committed players and you can’t argue they haven’t deserved their rapid surge into the spotlight.

And yet, I can’t be the only person who believes Scotland are eminently capable of thriving and defeating the Afghan side if Bradburn picks the right personnel and, just as importantly, allows the new generation to express themselves on the pitch.

By that, I mean if they occasionally get angry, or blow a gasket, Stuart Broad-style, at teammates, that’s fine. Modern cricket is a tough, tough environment. It’s not the place for shrinking violets or those whose shoulders tend to droop.

Nor should they be dragged down by the shackles of history. I’m really hoping Bradburn tells Craig Wallace to parade his pyrotechnics against Afghanistan’s opening attack. In many respects, the 25-year-old Dundonian is similar to Shahzad: unfussy, uncomplicated, always prepared to give the ball a mighty biff and crank through the gears in the early overs.

I’m also convinced the Scottish coach should give free licence to Michael English, an engagingly frank and ambitious youngster, and eschew picking players on past deeds rather than present exploits.

Because there are plenty of gifted youngsters, from English to Haris Aslam and Mark Watt to Adrian Neill, and Chris Sole to Tom Bruce, who have demonstrated their ability to flourish for their clubs, at age-group level and for Scotland A.

Indeed, the mention of Sole prompts another thought which would be well worth considering. The former Scotland rugby captain and 1990 Grand Slam winner is one of the sharpest motivators in his field and loves cricket, as he told CricIndex earlier this summer.

So why not invite him along to talk to the Scots before they march out against their Afghan rivals in Edinburgh on July 4 and 6? It couldn’t possibly do any harm and it would be thinking outside the box.

What we can’t have is any continuation of the “Why of Why” post-mortems which followed Scotland’s demoralising losses to Shahzad & Co at the 2015 World Cup and this year’s World T20 competition in India.

Yes, they should have triumphed in both instances. But they didn’t, the consequences have been serious, and it’s time to move on.

Hopefully, that lesson will be absorbed very quickly!

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Kenny MacLeod 2A number of Scotland’s cricket clubs are holding a minute’s silence this weekend to honour the memory of Inverurie captain, Kenny MacLeod, who died last Saturday.

The former president of Kelburne was one of the game’s larger-than-life characters and I’ve received plenty of messages from throughout the country, testifying to Kenny’s unquenchable passion for the game.

It’s always sad when any sporting event descends into tragedy as happened after his collapse on the pitch at Balmoral.

But the response in the last few days has shown how many people’s lives he touched and all for the better.

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