2015 a Momentous Year – Part 4

04 Jan

Cricket Scotland President Colin Neill looks at the latter part of the 2015 Scottish cricket summer as the various senior and youth finals conclude the domestic season. 

August 2015

It waU17 Scotland squads a very busy July but one of great success for Scotland from the national team right across many age groups. Possibly the greatest month in Scottish cricketing history? The future looks bright. How could we follow that, well there were a couple of Cup Finals to come, Leagues to be won and the MCC were due in town. 

The month started with a surprise visit from an umpiring legend. England’s quick demolition of Australia at Edgebaston meant that Aleem Dar had a rare Saturday afternoon to himself. There are many ways the 47 year-old veteran of 96 Test matches might have chosen to enjoy a day off – a trip to the coast perhaps, a visit to the shops or simply the chance to put his feet up. Instead Dar was an interested spectator as Stenhousemuir hosted Kilmarnock in a Western Union First Division match. Stenhousemuir’s Tryst ground, with its modest facilities and handful of spectators, is a million cricketing miles from Edgebaston, one of the world’s top international venues, yet Dar looked quite at home. He watched the action, his allegiance lying with the Kilmarnock team, as his cousin and nephew played for the Ayrshire team.

Following the success of the international side and the under 19s our Under 15s were playing in the ICC Europe U15 Championship at Rugby School. Day one saw a good start from Scotland. They started their campaign with a convincing win over Guernsey. A competitive total was built around Tom Diamond who scored 46. This was followed by four wickets apiece for Robbie McCallum (4/18) and Aliyan Quershi (4/12) as Guernsey folded for 58.

The second match ended in disappointment as the Under 15s fell short by 4 runs despite a fighting 45 from Jack Bradburn.

The young Scots bounced back in style against the Netherlands, posting 284-8 with captain Callum Garden scoring a brilliant century. The Netherlands collapsed after a great start to lose by 117 runs. A win against Denmark set up the possibility of taking the title with a win against the previously unbeaten Ireland.

Unfortunately it was not to be as Ireland won the ICC Europe U15 Trophy beating Scotland by seven wickets, In the final day’s play the Irish bowlers put their team in pole position when they bowled Scotland out for 93. Scotland started well with Ireland’s reply getting off to a stuttering start. They lost three early wickets but a fourth wicket partnership of 57 led the Irish to a seven wicket victory and ICC Europe U15 Trophy winners. Scotland were runners up giving more reasons to be cheerful about the future. 

Meanwhile our Under 17s were playing in the Netherlands in the U17 Challenge Series. Scotland beat the hosts in the first game. The win was achieved as Scotland scored168 and then bowled out the Netherlands for 107, giving Scotland the win by 61 runs. In the second match the Under 17s won again, this time by 17 runs. Harris Carnegie made 47 as Scotland were bowled out for 166. The Dutch made a good stab at the total, but an inspired spell from Rory Allardice (4/40) ensured their opponents would finish up 17 runs shy of the total.  

The Bryce sisters leave the fieldOur young women also had a fantastic performance. Scotland's Kathryn and Sarah Bryce help their side amass 341-1 off 45 overs after producing two remarkable innings against Lincolnshire. Kathryn posted 150 and her sister Sarah a 100. What a performance from the sisters. In reply Lincolnshire could only reach 130.

A visit to Titwood showed me, again, the depth of talent that Scotland now have at their disposal. As a Scotland XI took on the MCC they included a number of players from their ICC World T20 campaign. There was however a good mix of experience and youth with two members of the Scotland u19 leg-spinner Harris Aslam and seamer Scott Cameron given an opportunity along with Hampshire’s Bradley Wheal and Ruaidhri Smith who will take a break from his Glamorgan commitments. The team will be led by current Scotland captain Preston Mommsen. Wheal quickly took his opportunity with a five-wicket haul as the MCC were bowled out for 170 on day one. In reply a fine century from Michael Leask (119) and 45 from Smith helped Scotland post 322. Irish international Reinhardt Strydom scored a century as the MCC managed 327 in reply leaving the Scots to get 179 to win. This was achieved in 32 overs as Michael English (64no) and Dylan Budge (70) posted 121 for the second wicket and the Scots ran out winners by seven wickets. 

The Western Warriors U15s welcomed the Eastern Knights to a sun-drenched Glenpark (Greenock CC) with one objective: win the game and be crowned as Cricket Scotland U15 Inter-Regional Champions. The Eastern Knights could only score 122 and the Warriors knocked them off to win by three wickets. Andy Tennant Cricket Scotland’s Director of Cricket presented Zain Ashraf with the trophy. A big thank you must go to all those people who have helped to make the matches in this year’s Championship possible – administrators, caterers, coaches, groundsmen, parents, players, umpires and other key volunteers. Fantastic well done. 

In mid-month I had the pleasure to be present at the Murgitroyd T20 Finals Day at Poloc CC. An excellent day with some fantastic action packed cricket. In the semi-finals Poloc outgunned Dumfries while Forfarshire beat Watsonians.

Forfarshire collect the Murgitroyd T20 Trophy

In the final Poloc were invited to bat first but tight bowling by the Broughty Ferry side’s varied attack kept the clamps on the home batsmen and they could only post a target of 104. Forfarshire skipper Craig Wallace seemed to decide he would be the man and ended up 64no after posting his fifty in only 16 deliveries. So I was delighted to present the trophy to him and Forfarshire who were crowned Scotland’s T20 champions. 

The Wildcats continue to improve and a trip south to Horton House CC ended with two victories against Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. Two impressive performances meant it was the first time the Scots have managed a ‘double win’ in the Natwest T20 competition this season. However the Wildcats have yet to record a victory in the 50 over competition after gaining promotion from Division 3 last season and travelled with hope to play Ireland and Essex. Howver a loss to Essex and the Irish match rained off meant the Scots are still waiting their first win. 

Following a disappointing 2014 where the weather was the winner, the U14 Triangular Festival between Belfast, Edinburgh and Western Warriors took place this year.  Prestwick CC hosted the three-team, 30 overs per side competition. It was a close competition, with the Knights beating the Warriors but losing out to Belfast. The Warriors then beat Belfast so that each team finished on 2 points.  However, it was the comprehensive nature of Edinburgh’s win over the Warriors, which made the big difference. Congratulations to the Eastern Knights U14s. 

The Highlanders, who romped to victory in the North Sea Pro Series earlier in the year, added another trophy to the cabinet when they wrapped up the Cricket Scotland Pro 50 tournament. They finished the season with a win over the Reivers at Titwood. The Highlanders were in trouble on 75/7 when Mark Watt struck 8 fours and 6 sixes on his way to 100 to ensure the Highlanders would finish on 180. The Highlanders, with Michael Leask the star with the ball claiming a remarkable 5/6, then bowled out the Reivers for 69. 

The weekend of the 23rd August was huge in Scottish club cricket. First the Eastern Premier and Western Union Championships were wrapped up. Grange were crowned champions of the Eastern Premier League. The campaign reached a dramatic climax as the Stockbridge side, went into the final day in second place. They saw off derby rivals Heriot’s while across the city at Myreside leaders Arbroath fell at the final hurdle in a gut-wrenching defeat to Watsonians.  

Meanwhile, Clydesdale confirmed their status as Western Union champions with a convincing win over Renfrew at King George V Playing Fields. There was a theoretical chance that the Titwood club might be caught in the improbable event of them failing to garner a single point from their remaining two games. 

Gordonians collect the CS Trophy

On the Sunday Grange, Arbroath, Gordonians and Kilmarnock were greeted with a beautiful day as the Scottish Cup came to a climax at New Williamfield. It is always an honour for the President to attend and present the trophies at the finals and one which I was privileged to preside over. New Williamfield allows both games to be played simultaneously and also allows spectators to watch both at the same time!

The Cricket Scotland Challenge Final, which was contested between current holders Kilmarnock and Arrowdawn Gordonians, finished first. Hamish Lewis top scored for Gordonians with 79 before they settled for a final total of 242. The 2014 Champions Kilmarnock endured a torrid start to their innings as they found themselves on 53/4. It wasn’t all over however. Muhammed Azeem, one of Scotland’s age-group players, showed all those watching why he is regarded as a player of much talent.

The youngster batting beautifully and brought up a deserved century, however with the score on 211, a catch on the deep mid-wicket boundary brought his innings to a close.  His 132, an innings that included 17 fours and 3 sixes was a remarkable effort for one so young. As Azeem trudged off the field it was warming to see each of the Gordonians players run over to shake the young batsman’s hand – exemplifying the spirit in which the match had been played.

There was a valiant attempt by Kilmarnock to get close to the total, but they simply ran out of overs an agonising 7 runs short. Arbroath celebrate victory with their supporters

On the other pitch a large crowd boosted by several coach loads of Arbroath supporters gathered to watch Grange and Arbroath contest the 2015 Scottish Cup Final. Arbroath batted first and we were treated to an excellent century from Fraser Burnett, which let Arbroath reach a very creditable 217. Grange could never get going and excellent bowling and fielding restricted them to 124 all out with 10 overs still to be bowled. Craig Ramsay's left arm spin claimed 2/22, which included two wicket maidens, and Calvin Burnett returned Arbroath's best figures of 3/21 in a very good bowling performance. I was delighted to present the trophy to Marc Petrie in front of a very noisy and excited support. It was an excellent day and thanks should go to Stirling CC for their hospitality and also to the scorers, umpires and supporters for ensuring a fantastic day was had. 

Fellow board member Paul Reddish and Ian Sandbrook Cricket celebrated the achievements of some of our clubs and volunteers at the Scottish Cup final at Stirling CCC.  This year`s Last Man Stands Club Awards recognized the key components that make up a great cricket club. This obviously went down well with a record number of nominations received across the six categories. This reflected some of the amazing work going on around the country. Congratulations to the winning clubs who were Westquarter & Redding Cricket Club, Galloway Cricket Club, Glenrothes Cricket Club, Greenock Cricket Club, Edinburgh South Cricket Club and Moray Cricket Association. 

At the end of the month the annual Girls Kwik Cricket festival was held in Perth. The participants were greeted with bright sunshine and over 100 girls graced the picturesque Doo’cot Park to play some cricket. There were some experienced Wildcats on hand to give out some handy tips and share their experiences to the girls along the way too. For some girls this was their first taste of playing in a game. Twelve teams, Meigle, Forfarshire & Dundee, Arbroath, Hawick, Falkland, Galloway, Perth Doo’cot & Stirling, Carlton, East Lothian, SMRH & MES and Elgin, played four games each over the course of 4 hours that included a little break for lunch, some photo opportunities, and a quick question and answer session with the Wildcats.  

Kari Carswell Women’s Cricket Manager said “it’s been a great day and this really has become our flagship event for girls in Scotland.   We have seen a steady increase in the number of girls playing across Scotland and to get 12 teams here today is pretty special. Fantastic and well done to all involved and especially the Wildcats that supported the event. 

The Woman’s Regional Championships were next and after a comfortable 6 wicket win against the Reivers at Doo’cot Park, the Highlanders were declared champions for 2015,. 

The month ended with Cricket Scotland’s U18 National Club Championship Finals’ Day. This took place at Titwood (Clydesdale CC) with Clydesdale, Poloc, Grange and Forfarshire vying to be champions. The first semi-final saw a Glasgow ‘southside’ derby take place as hosts Clydesdale CC played Poloc CC. Clydesdale batted first scoring 133/6 off their 20 overs. In reply Poloc fell short

Only managing 98/7. The second semi-final saw Grange CC bat first against Forfarshire CC. An explosive final two overs saw Grange take their total to 114/4. Early in the reply the momentum stayed with Grange with Forfarshire 6/2 after two overs.  However, Christian Robertson and Scotland U15 captain Callum Garden were in no mood to let Grange take full control of the match. Robertson stayed calm and continued his superb innings – bringing up a well-deserved fifty and then going on to see his side home with two deliveries to spare.  Forfarshire 115/4, Robertson 62*.  

Forfarshire U18 2015 Champions

In the final Clydesdale scored 109/7 in their 20 overs. This total did not stretch Forfarshire as openers Rory Johnston (43no) and Callum Garden (59no) saw the Broughty Ferry team home by ten wickets in 14 overs. Tony Brian the Cricket Scotland Chairman presented the trophy and thanked the umpires, all the spectators and the players – as everyone played their part in a great day of cricket. 

So after a fantastic July for our national players at many levels, August was about the club game and what an advert. The club scene is still vibrant, especially so when our international players are able to get back to their clubs. The hitting in the T20 Finals day was fantastic with Michael Leask and Craig Wallace showing off their talents.

The The 50 over Cup Finals reflected all that is good in Scottish cricket. Tremendous support for the players, teamwork, individual brilliance, great fielding exciting finishes. 

It was a pleasure to attend and support the cricket in August, to see some of the talent coming through but most of all to see players of all ages, men and women enjoying themselves.   

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