Scottish Cricket Review 2016

Neil Drysdale looks back on Scottish Cricket in 2016 with an emphasises on the positives offfered going into 2017.

Scottish cricket fans still have lots to look forward to but the ICC must give Associates a chance before it’s too late.

Scottish cricket in 2016 has struggled with little help from ICC

In many ways, 2016 was a dismal time to be a Scottish cricket aficionado. While the national team were desperately starved of fixtures – a problem for most of the ICC’s Associate members – and the Caledonian weather proved as much use as a one-legged man at a Riverdance contest, it was easy to sink into a slough of despond.

Wright and Carswell Will Be Missed

There were certainly no shortage of departures and debacles along the way. Craig Wright and Kari Carswell, arguably the most pivotal figures in the development of the Scottish men’s and women’s games over the last 20 years, both headed to pastures new in Hong Kong and New Zealand respectively, while Preston Mommsen announced his international retirement at just 29.

Freuchie, for their part, were forced to withdraw from the National Village Cup – a competition in which they had reigned supreme at Lords in 1985 – because they couldn’t raise a team for a trip to England. For much of the summer, the heavens dominated the action or sorry lack of it. And even when the sun shone, there were farcical scenes at the likes of Mannofield in Aberdeen as cautious umpires thought more about health and safety issues than showing a sliver of common sense.

Craig Wright Cricket Scotland

Former Captain and Coach Craig Wright moved to Hong Kong in 2016

Attention ICC – Associates Need Actions Not Words

The novel theme was definitely Hard Times rather than Great Expectations. And yet, as we reach the end of the year, disillusionment isn’t the first emotion which springs to mind. First, there’s anger over the lack of encouragement for the labours of the Associates from the ICC: a body which permanently marches into the future with all the vision of Mr Magoo in a coal mine.

And then, there is pride at the manner in which several Scots have risen to the challenge of proving their mettle at the highest level, oblivious to the dearth of opportunities which they have received of late.

Lots of Talent in Scotland

This isn’t a definitive list, but the future can’t be considered remotely bleak when the Scottish selectors have access to such diverse talents as Andrew Umeed, Harris Aslam, Michael Leask, Mark Watt, Matt Cross, Adrian Neill, Michael English, Mo Awais, Gavin Main and the Sole duo, Chris and Tom, whose father, David, knows all about triumphing on the biggest stages in sport.

And when you add to that list the powers of such rising English-based stars as Brad Wheal, Josh Davey and Matt Machan and intertwine it with seasoned performers of the calibre of Kyle Coetzer, Richie Berrington, Calum MacLeod and Con de Lange, there is no reason why many of these redoubtable players can’t dominate proceedings when Grant Bradburn’s side travel to the Desert T20 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next month.

The greater problem lies in the Scots’ limited fixture schedule in 2017 and the continuing uncertainty over who they will meet in 2018, but they can only beat the opponents put in front of them. One irritating aspect of the current Associate structure is that, whereas Ireland look to be in sharp decline, they are gaining plenty of opportunities from the ICC. And we can’t complain – they have proved their worth at various World Cups with the hard currency of victories.

Wildcasts Flourish

At least, the Wildcats have leapt into the spotlight and provided a shot in the arm to Scottish women’s cricket. Their youthful squad has transcended any number of travails to follow a similar path to their football counterparts and it’s impossible not to be heartened by their can-do initiative and ability.

There’s no doubt it will require a titanic effort when they meet the likes of South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the qualifying event for the 2017 World Cup in Sri Lanka in February, but Abbi Aitken and her team mates aren’t interested in making up the numbers. Their attitude is spot-on as it needs to be.

Kari Carswell Cricket Scotland

Kari Carswell, instrumental to the growth of Women and Girls in Scottish cricket has to Hong Kong in 2016

Personally, I can’t wait for the end of 2016. It was, too often, a year of disappointment, hard-luck stories, and afternoons in thrall to Duckworth-Lewis. At CricIndex, we worked to highlight some of the pressing matters which required attention – such as the problems in north-east cricket – and the underwhelming nature of the Scottish Cup, which still needs addressing.

Hope for 2017

But, as we move forward, it won’t do to emulate Scrooge. There is no quick route to a place at the ICC top table, but that doesn’t mean Scotland can’t flourish in the T20 arena and particularly given they possess ample reserves of ambitious youngsters.

Back in 2005, Craig Wright’s side surged to victory in the ICC Trophy in Ireland and enjoyed a 100% record over their rivals.

That was the ghost of Summer Past. But it offers inspiration for 2017.

Merry Christmas to you all!

 

Photos courtesy Cricket Scotland

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