Drysdale’s Column: Part of the solution

Hashtag on chalkboard

In the old days of print journalism, we used to look askance at some of the letters which arrived at the old Scotsman building on North Bridge in Edinburgh. Big loops in the writing on the envelope were a giveaway. So was the bright green ink.

This was invariably a sign we were about to be blasted with a torrent of ferocious abuse about something we had written the week before.

Now, criticism goes with the terrain if you are a columnist. If you dish it out, you have to be ready to take it. Indeed, that often leads to healthy dialogue, debate and discussion in an environment. Nobody should quibble with that in a democracy.

But the “green-ink” brigade tended to go further. They overstepped the mark, confused fair comment with personal insults and frequently ended up being staggeringly offensive. How these people must love Twitter where, so often, there seem to be no boundaries at all.

Last Sunday, after I had written about the farcical cancellation of the Aberdeenshire v Grange match at Mannofield, I awoke to find three different Twitter messages which accused me of “hating” Scottish cricket, of being “totally negative” and “talking crap”. I can cope with these comments, since the first two are patently wrong and the third is somebody’s opinion.

But there were other remarks which were more difficult to gloss over. I’ve reported them to Twitter, but they did set me thinking: “What do Scotland fans actually want? Do they really care about their country or just their clubs? And how can we go about improving matters?”

To that end, CricIndex is inviting our many readers to join the hashtag #partofthesolution to help orchestrate a better future for the game which new Sportscotland figures have shown is the fastest-growing pursuit in this country.

In essence, we want to hear from you about your suggestions, innovations and ideas as we advance  towards the climax of the 2016 campaign and look forward to the game’s development.

Just for starters, I’ve got a couple of notions which may or may not work, but surely merit consideration. The first would be to replace the existing Scottish Cup 50-over competition with a new Twenty20 tournament, which would see the whole of July dedicated to the shorter form, with a finals day at the end of August.

This would replace the existing Murgitroyd event, which, however well-intentioned, doesn’t provide a sustained platform for clubs to build up T20 in their own communities. I envisage having four regional groups of five or six clubs, meeting each other on four or five weekends, with the winners progressing to the climactic occasion at an ODI venue.

The second idea is for Cricket Scotland to set up a national fans forum, which would show they were wiling to listen to reasonable opinion about what they are getting right or wrong. At the moment, I keep meeting cricket lovers who feel completely disenfranchised and their frustration is evident. These are genuine aficionados of the sport, who shouldn’t feel they are being ignored by the governing body. But they do and that is a concern. They should be regarded as part of the solution, not the problem.

None of this is rocket science, but, too often in Scotland, the authorities mistrust anything which contradicts their limited vision. As things stand, and I know this because Cricket Ireland are truly proactive, our Celtic cousins have lined up a fantastic range of fixtures in the next 12 months. They meet Pakistan twice in August, South Africa and Australia in September and have already lined up a five-match series with Afghanistan – and two T20s – in India next March. Then they meet England twice in England next summer. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

The Scots, in contrast, are struggling to bring together an attractive package of fixtures, but this isn’t entirely their fault. Instead, the fact is that the introduction of the ICC’s 12-team ODI league has given the Full Members a rationale to play both Ireland and Afghanistan which never previously existed.

That is why the Associates are all pushing for a bigger ODI league of 13 or 14 teams and more regular action within the World Cricket League circuit. Until this happens, the Scots and the Dutch will struggle for fixtures, just as Ireland used to.

Ultimately, if you’ve read this far, clearly you are a cricket supporter. Those of us in Scotland need to band together in a common cause.

And that includes Cricket Scotland!

1 Reply to "Drysdale's Column: Part of the solution"

  • comment-avatar
    Clark McConnachie
    July 29, 2016 (10:53 am)

    Cricket is not a spectator sport in Scotland. It is a sport for participants in the same vein as hockey, netball, basketball etc.

    The lifeblood of the sport is club cricket. Without club cricket you do not have the vehicle for players to come in to the sport and then excel and play at International level.

    The number of children being given some exposure to the game of cricket in schools looks good on paper. But the real test is converting these numbers into regular attendees at club sessions who then go on to play the sport at youth level……and on to senior cricket.

    With a concise schools programme that links directly into clubs then we have a chance to ensure that clubs will not only survive – but thrive. Without that……..

    The stark reality is that many clubs have an ageing playing staff and no youth programme – and in the coming years these clubs will disappear and the number of clubs will dwindle. Maybe not in Edinburgh……but it will across the rest of the country.

    In terms of adding in new tournaments; the players at the higher ranked clubs need to be heavily consulted before further competitions are added. There is little appetite that I know of among these players for a raft of Sunday fixtures – even if they are T20 games. Working hours are extended, leisure time is reduced and the demands of giving up a whole Saturday are already difficult for many.

    What happens at the upper echelons of the game and our International aspirations will largely be dictated by the ICC – and our ability to take advantage of any opportunities that come our way. The leaders of Cricket Scotland will I am sure be trying their best on that front. The fact is that our results have been disappointing at recent tournaments and the better performances of Ireland and Afghanistan have seen them steal a march on us. Hopefully our enhanced youth set up and next generation of players will help us improve on that front.

    As noted at the start, cricket in Scotland is not a spectator sport and should never be seen as one.

    The game needs to be run for the players………and the clubs need to be given support in order to keep producing players and providing good facilities to play cricket. From there you will find talent and the next generation of players who can excel at the highest level.

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