Scotland Annihilated by Durham 2nd XI
I’m in the process of house-hunting at the moment and have spent many hours in the past month packing away a vast array of cherished books and prized programmes.
As the song goes, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, and the contrast between the fixture schedule, and array of sponsors who were backing Scottish cricket 12 years ago and nowadays is both striking and depressing.
At that stage, the book carried a typically optimistic foreword by Cricket Scotland patron, Sir Ian Botham, and an effusive introduction from Susan Rice, the chief executive of Lloyds TSB Scotland, who talked about the sport being “an ideal partner” for the bank.
On the playing front, I’ve calculated that the Scots, between Saltires matches and international games, had a total of 26 matches in 2003, which allowed the squad to build up momentum, camaraderie and cohesion during the summer.
Now contrast that with the current position where the Scots are struggling to arrange more than seven or eight days of truly meaningful games in 2016. We can criticise the ICC’s decisions all we like, but it’s noticeable that I still haven’t received any fixture list from Cricket Scotland and, despite my efforts to promote the sport, most of the feedback I’m receiving from fans is of the negative variety when it comes to discussing the governing body’s activities.
Justified or not, the proof of the pudding tends to materialise in results on the pitch, which explains my unease over this week’s events in Durham, where the county’s second XI utterly annihilated Scotland A by an innings and 280 runs in less than two days, while racking up 600-plus runs at in excess of six an over.
To be fair, it was an inexperienced Scottish bowling attack, but the batting line-up included Kyle Coetzer, Hamish Gardiner and Preston Mommsen. Yet the only Scot who struck a century in the truncated match was Calum MacLeod, who feasted along with the rest of his county colleagues.
There are no shortage of talented youngsters across Caledonia at the moment, including Harris Aslam, Jack Waller, Mark Watt, Harris Carnegie, Andrew Umeed, Ben Wilkinson, Michael English and several others, such as Tom Sole, Michael Leask and Matthew Cross are trying to make the grade in England at different organisations.
That’s a positive development – and one wishes more stars had shown the same attitude seven or eight years ago – but it shouldn’t be allowed to gloss over the gloom.
As far as the elite domestic players are concerned, they will probably have four ODIs against UAE and Afghanistan this summer and there will be regional tussles between the best from the east, west and north.
There’s also the I-Cup contest with UAE at Mannofield in August, although it’s difficult to get overly excited about that match. But, however you spin it, it’s a very thin programme and one which will do little to improve their standards.
In a sense, I almost wish I hadn’t unearthed the 2004 review. It merely demonstrates how matters have stagnated in the intervening period.
The fault doesn’t lie at any single person or organisation’s door, but Scottish cricket needs to realise it has to get its act together. And quickly. We certainly can’t afford to become whipping boys for English county second teams!