2015 a Momentous Year – Part 5

06 Jan

Cricket Scotland President Colin Neill pens is final blog in an enjoyable series of reviews from 2015. 


I have to admit I love cricket in September. In Scotland more times than not it is one of the best summer months. As many of you will know I play my cricket for the Forty Club and our fixtures in September are fantastic, we start the month at Balmoral Castle. What a place to play, wicket isn’t that special but the surroundings. We move south to Glendelvine, west to Carradale and then back north to Rossie Priory. This epitomizes grass roots cricket for me. Beautiful grounds, keen players, competitive but fun games and afterwards a chance to share and reminisce past glories. Carradale CC, don’t play in any major leagues, but they have a keen group of players who love playing cricket. We played three out of the four games and won them all, great way to finish my playing season. 

So what happened in the rest of Scotland, well Malcolm Cannon started and I look forward to seeing him pick up the challenges and drive cricket forward. 

A strong Scotland A side went down to Blackpool to lock horns with Lancashire 2nd XI. The Lancastrians batted first and scored an impressive 376/9 before declaring. When Scotland batted Dylan Budge who earlier had taken 3-33 scored 105 and with Richie Berrington (93) just missing out on a century our A team scored 279/6 declared. In the second innings Lancashire declared on 269/5 leaving the Scots to chase 367. Unfortunately Lancashire’s England U19 bowler Saqib Mahmood was in outstanding form and we never recovered from 52/6 and ended up losing by over 200 runs. 

President Elect Bruce Dixon presents Andrew Brock with the CSL championshipThe marquee fixture of the club season the CSL Grand Final was played at Bothwell Castle Policies. It was the east coast who came out on top as Grange overcame Clydesdale. Hopes had been high in the Titwood camp that the Western Union champions could end the Eastern Premier’s three-year monopoly on the end-of-season showpiece. However, Grange showed their big-game mentality to survive a testing examination before coming through comfortably by 90 runs, aided by Clydesdale losing their last eight wickets for just 22 runs as spinners Andrew Brock and Harris Aslam claimed all ten wickets. Grange batting first scored 232 with Neil McCallum scoring 70 and Graham Goudie 45. In reply Clydedale could only muster 142 with man-of-the-match Aslam claimed 6-40 and Brock 4-39. Well done to both teams on an excellent season and congratulations to Grange on their victory. 

In the Woman’s Scottish Cup at Ayr CC a new name appeared on the trophy. George Watson’s College were crowned winners after defeating Carlton in the final by 110 runs. Batting first Watsons racked up a hugely impressive 198/3 in their 20 overs.  Kathryn Bryce 40, Sarah Bryce 66 and Rebecca Oliver 75, were the main contributors to the George Watson’s innings. In reply tight bowling and fielding restricted Carlton to 47/3 after 8 overs and George Watson’s kept the pressure on for the rest of the innings.  Katie McGill was top scorer for Carlton with 59, but they fell well short finishing on 88/9.  Congratulations go to George Watson’s College who played impressive cricket throughout the final.  

Myburgh is bowled by Davey (Peter Della Penna)

It was off to Holland next for Scotland who took on the Netherlands in The I-Cup. After a washed out first day Scotland did not do themselves justice. The Netherlands were bowled out for 210 a good performance but in reply Scotland slumped to 35/6. On Day Two Matt Cross and Rob Taylor (46) helped us to reach a below par 133. The Scots then produced an impressive display with the ball bowling out the Dutch for 122. This gave Scotland a target of 200 to win the match. At the close of play Scotland were 52/3. However on the final day and despite half centuries from Richie Berrington and Rob Taylor, Scotland fell 44 runs short. A very disappointing result and one that we may regret later on in the competition. 

September also saw the death of Yorkshire legend Brian Close.

As well as captaining England, Yorkshire and Somerset, Close also filled the position of Scotland Team Manager for our foray into the Benson & Hedges competition in the 1980s. In carrying out the role he brought his great experience of county cricket, and his contribution was greatly valued.

After our disappointing result in the I-Cup we had a chance to bounce back in the ICC World Cricket League. However the weather gods weren’t kind. Without a doubt we were in pole position in game one with the Netherlands 74/5 before rain intervened. On the reserve day the Netherlands moved onto 161/6 before rain caused an abandonment.  

The Wildcats finally broke their duck in the Royal London One Day Cup Division 2. They finished the season with a comprehensive 43 run win over Devon. Unfortunately not enough to avoid a return to division three but a good end to the season. The Wildcats batted first and Kari Carswell top scored with 83. The bowlers then got to work and skipper Abbi Aitken (3-29) was the top performer as Devon could only manage 133. Coach Carswell summed the season up when she said “The girls have worked incredibly hard and their desire to improve is amazing.  We’ve developed and progressed again as a team and I think that is easy to see in our performances.  We have genuine competition for places in our team now and that’s something that we’ve not really had before, it makes for some tough decisions and for girls to perform when it matters.” I’ve seen many of these girls play and the talent is there, they are also a very young side. I think again the future is bright. 

The girls returned and many of them pitted themselves against each other in the Final of the Women’s National League. In a high scoring match Stirling defeated George Watson’s College by 11 runs. Stirling batted first and Rachel Scholes (50) and Kari Carswell (40) helped them post 169/6. The Bryce sisters made a good fist of the chase with Kathryn scoring 50 and Sarah 79no but they and their teammates couldn’t quite get there in the end.

There was great news for Preston Mommsen when he was invited to joins the Lashings All-Stars for the BREDS Cup in Jamaica. What a fantastic experience for Scotland’s captain 

Cricket Scotland and the Western District Junior Cricket Union joined together to host an U10 indoor Kwik Cricket festival at Hutcheson’s GS Sports Hall.The festival was a repeat of the successful trial event run after the 2014 season – and saw 31 young players, from 5 clubs, take part in a round robin, 6-a-side, pairs match format. In the end the Festival was won by Clydesdale who played four won four. Well done though to Clydesdale CC, Ferguslie CC, Helensburgh CC, Irvine CC and Uddingston on a morning where cricket was definitely the overall winner.

Bob McFarlane and Colin Neill (James Cameron Munro)As always, thanks must go the coaches, umpires, parents and players who made the event possible – and rounded off the junior season in the west region in style.

Well done to Galloway CC, who stage a 24 hour cricket marathon and raised almost a £1000 for the club.

My September ended in autumnal sunshine at Rossie Priory, a ground I hadn’t visited for 30 years. Playing against fellow board member Bob MacFarlane both teams played some spirited cricket and the match was concluded on the last ball with the oldest player on both sides stumping the batsmen off the bowling off the youngest player. As we adjourned to the bar at Inchture, Bob and I reflected on what has been a remarkable and successful cricket season for Scotland in 2015.


October, November and December 

Despite the playing season coming to a close, cricket matters continue. 

Congratulations to Rory Johnstone. Rory a pupil at the High School of Dundee was presented with the Philip Ridgway trophy for Junior Sports Personality of the Year by BBC sports presenter Hazel Irvine at the 2015 Dundee Sportsman's Dinner. Rory

received the prestigious honour in recognition of an outstanding 12 months at the crease which saw him record his first century for Scotland U17s, open the batting for the Forfarshire side which won the Scottish U18 Cup (scoring 43 not out in the final), and represent his country again at the U17 European Championships this past summer. 

October saw two hard working members of the board of Cricket Scotland step down. Kenny Godsman after serving for 15 years and Jim Young 7 and a half years have decided that other priorities need to take preference. For me as President both men have given me great support and advice and I wish them well as they go forward in other pursuits. 

A surprise for those readers of the Daily Record as three of our top women players smiled out from its pages. As they prepare to make the long journey to Bangkok to take part in the Twenty20 Qualifier in Thailand the three members of the squad made their way to the Daily Record studios in Glasgow for a fashion shoot with stylist Julie Hannah. Elizabeth Priddle, Samantha Haggo and captain Abbi Aitken swapped their bats for make-up as they experienced the flashing studio lights for the afternoon. 

The women were in action again as the 2015/16 Indoor season started in November. Carlton and Stirling County claimed first honours. A record number of teams entered the November women’s indoor sixes event. A total of 11 teams attended the two regional competitions; seven at Loretto School and four at Holyrood Sports Centre.



The Scotland squad

Bruce Dixon and I were delighted to attend the last training session at the Cricket Academy before the girls left for Thailand. It was a pleasure to see the hard work and also the support that the team were getting. I got the chance to speak to the group and wish them luck and Scotland coach Grant Bradburn was also on hand to give out some tips. 

The girls had three warm up games before the competition started and the result of those three was a win against full member nation Zimbabwe. 

The competition proper started with a solid performance in game one defeating PNG by 8 wickets at Thailand Cricket Ground. PNG were bowled out for 53 with Kirstie Gordon (2/10) and Abtaha Maqsood (2/9) starring with the ball. The Scottish Women chased down the total in 15.4 overs. The next match was against Bangladesh ranked 9th in the world. Scotland were asked to bat first and could only manage 53, which Bangladesh chased down losing only 2 wickets. In the final match of the group stages Scotland held their nerve against hosts Thailand and completed a 6 wicket win. This win ensures Scotland a place in the semi-final of the ICC WWT20 Qualifier. Thailand batted first and could only muster 74. Kirstie Gordon (2/17) and Kari Carswell (2/13) starred with the ball and again the Scottish outfielding was excellent. The match was won by 6 wickets on the back of Rachel Scholes’ innings of 32.Abbi Aitken receives her 100th cap (Ian Jacobs/ICC)

Congratulations to Abbi Aitken who played in her 100th match for Scotland in this game. What a fantastic achievement for the Scottish captain.

Ireland were too strong for Scotland in the semi final winning a one sided contest by nine wickets. There was further disappointment as the Scots lost the 3rd/4th play off match to Zimbabwe off the last ball. A score of 94 seemed very competitive especially when the Scots reduced the Zimbabweans to 78/7 with nine balls left. The final over started with 14 needed and unfortunately Zimbabwe’s top scorer was equal to the task. This should be a great base for the Scottish Woman to improve and I look forward in anticipation of that. 

A footnote to the tournament, congratulations to Rachel Scholes who has been named as a rookie-player for the Sydney Sixers in the Women’s Big Bash League, taking place in January 2016. This is a fantastic honour for Rachel and a great reflection of Scottish Women’s cricket. 

So the year has ended, in my opinion a momentous year for Scottish Cricket. I hope you have enjoyed my recollections of the year. I have tried to support as many matches, occasions, dinners as I could. Unfortunately a couple of health issues made that slightly challenging at times but I enjoyed 2015 and I look forward to 2016 with eager anticipation as I am sure our senior side and our under 19s are too. 

May I wish you all a very Happy New Year and hopefully we will see each other somewhere in Scotland in 2016 on either side of the boundary.

Images by Donald MacLeod, Ian Jacobs/ICC, James Cameron Munro and Peter Della Penna/Cricinfo

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