In the latest of this season’s Thursday features, Gary Heatly catches up with Bass Rock CC…
North Berwick in beautiful East Lothian has always been a popular destination in the summer for holiday makers keen to head down to the beach and soak up the sunshine.
The waves from the sea there also capture the attention – and the local cricketers from Bass Rock CC have been making some waves of their own in the early part of the 2021 season with the help of a former Scotland men’s captain.
In the two matches the club’s first XI has played so far in ESCA Division Six they have won both and George Salmond, who led Scotland at the 1999 World Cup, has scored centuries with the bat in each of them.
Now 51, the Arbroath man lives in North Berwick with his family and has not played a full season of cricket since 2003, but the set-up and friendliness at the Bass Rock club drew him back into the sport that he loves.
“I had often seen lots of cricket going on in Recreation Park and it always looked like everyone – young and old – was having a great time,” Salmond explains.
“I have always kept myself pretty fit and it was my wife Angela who encouraged me to get in touch with the club and see if I could get involved with helping out local cricketers.
“The club got back to me and I have loved it ever since, the people at Bass Rock CC are like a breath of fresh air, everyone is very friendly and really plays as part of a team and that has been seen in the first two results we have had this season.
“I have been opening the batting with John Amis and we look to get the team off to a solid start with the bat and then let some of the younger guys come in to hit the more powerful shots later in the innings.
“The enthusiasm amongst the team is great and it is just a really fun set-up to be part of – although I won’t lie, my body feels sorer the day after a match these days than it used to!”
In the first game at home against Penicuik II, Salmond scored 102 and Amis 92 while in last week’s game away to Tranent & Preston Village II they backed that up with 104 and 55 respectively.
Salmond and fellow experienced player Amis may have scored those runs to help the team, but the focus at the club is really on the future and bringing young players to the fore.
Jake Amis, John Amis’ son, came through the youth system at the club and now plays for Watsonians, last weekend hitting 121 not out in an amazing unbeaten first wicket stand of 325 alongside Greg Brown (163 not out) for their second XI in ESCA Division One.
And last Sunday, current Bass Rock player Bruce Weatherhead hit 22 not out to help the Eastern Knights under-15s to a four run win over the Western Warriors at Livingston CC.
Nick Murden, the former Edinburgh Accies CC first XI captain, has been involved with Bass Rock since he moved to North Berwick in 2010 and said: “At that time we were playing on a strip on the rugby pitch and then, with great support from the local rugby club and funding in place, we were able to install an astroturf wicket.
“Things continued to move forward from then onwards building on an already solid base.
“We began to play more midweek fixtures in the Last Man Stands format and we entered the leagues in 2019 when we were playing in ESCA Division Seven.
“The club has a really good atmosphere around it, we have members from every continent of the world who have relocated to the town and were keen to re-engage in the game.
“We have teenagers and 50 and 60-year-olds playing in the same team and the knowledge that the young players can gain from someone like George is invaluable while he also shows them how to play the game in the right spirit which is very important.
“Now in Division Six, we are aiming for steady and sustainable growth built on a group of players who are proud to represent the town.
“And in the medium to long-term, we’d love to be able to get a second XI out on a Saturday and seeing the progress that Jake, Bruce and other talented youngsters have made has allowed us to set-up training for under-12s on Friday nights which has proven popular.
“At the club we’ve talked a lot about cricket helping on the wellbeing side for many people and the values of sport are shining through here and we’re really proud of that.
“We’ve also seen the East Lothian county juniors use our facilities and we will continue in our quest to be a cricketing hub for the area.”
This coming Saturday, Bass Rock are due to be at home to Marchmont III in a league match.
Bass Rock CC’s first XI – Ian Hemsley, Keith Anderson, Matt Fraser, John Amis, Dudley Milne, Aaron Weatherhead, Bruce Weatherhead, Joe Rose, Nick Murden (C), George Salmond and Sam Woodford – are pictured ahead of the game against Penicuik II on May 29