2015 a Momentous Year for Scottish cricket - Part 2

28 Dec

Cricket Scotland President Colin Neill continues to look back at 2015 for the Cricket Scotland website. 

April 2015

After the AGM and following Roddy Smith’s resignation as Cricket Scotland’s Chief Executive Officer, it was great to welcome Willie Donald, as Interim CEO, as we embarked upon the recruitment process for a new CEO appointment. Willie is a personal friend and it was a delight to have him on board. In my opinion Willie did a fantastic job in this interim appointment. In his five months in charge he provided leadership and stability to the organisation following a period of uncertainty. He also addressed some important issues requiring urgent attention and put together a compelling draft strategy for the next few years on which the new CEO will be able build upon and then implement. 

The International season got under way with the Scotland A squad travelling to Durham to play the Durham Second XI. Looking to the future, although the squad contained six members of the traveling 2015 Cricket World Cup, it also gave an opportunity to six players under 20, including Andrew Umeed and Gavin Main. This was an early glimpse of the depth of talent now being nurtured in the Scottish game. The match itself was a great success for Scotland, culminating in a four-wicket win. Preston Mommsen and Hamish Gardiner both scored hundreds in an impressive run chase from the Scots. 

Ian Sandbrook, Cricket Scotland’s Head of Community Development, has been busy all winter and was able to announce another innovative programme designed to help support their clubs to embrace change and become more welcoming and enterprising.

Cricket Scotland, in conjunction with Sports Marketing Network, will be helping clubs to become more vibrant, visible and viable  in the community. Sports Marketing Network will deliver this through their new training, support and mentoring programme, Thriving Clubs. 

The final woman’s indoor tournament, before the outdoor league and cup competition starts, took place at the National Cricket Academy. Eleven teams took part in a round robin tournament that culminated in Stirling County “Fire” playing Ayr in the final. Stirling County were the individual winners but the real winner was woman’s cricket with eleven teams having a great day competing and sharing for the good of the game. 

It was also great to see Inverclyde Cricket Club host a successful school’s Festival during the month. A great event for the John A Blair Trophy one of many examples of the hard work done by enthusiasts throughout the country. 

I was also delighted to see that Galloway Cricket Club had been shortlisted for the Jewson `Building Better Communities` programme, Galloway CC were Cricket Scotland’s `focus club` for the recent Jewson Cricket Force Weekend that took place in March. The club ran a fantastic day that saw many of the local community come down and help with preparations for the season, and their commitment to improving as a club has really caught the attention of Jewson. 

More good news as Lords International agreed to continue their support of the Scottish Cup for season 2015.

The cricket season seems to start earlier and earlier and the Forty Club, the club that I’m most involved with these days started their season on April 14th with a match against Fettes College. 

The widening appeal of cricket was evidenced as Mary Erskine School added cricket to it’s PE curriculum. A three-day event supported by Cricket Scotland and associated Former Pupil club Stewarts Melville Royal High CC (SMRH CC) provided challenging activities and games for the primary 5, 6 & 7 girls to inspire girls to choose cricket as part of their curriculum PE and join the junior section at SMRH CC. Another example of the growth of our sport in Scotland. 

May

At the start of May the Highlanders and the Reivers announced their squads ahead of the North Sea Pro Series. The Highlanders look on paper to be very strong and it was to prove thus as Craig Wallace smashed 140 in the first game and the Highlanders ran out easy winners. It was the same result in the NSPS20 as well with George Munsey doing the damage this time. As the two Scottish sides travelled to Holland the Highlanders kept up their good run winning both games while the Reivers had one win and a loss. So by the middle of May the Highlanders prodigious batting line up had powered them to the top of the NSPS20 Table with three wins and a no result from four games. 

The Scottish Wildcats started their journey in the Royal London One Day Cup with a double header. The first game against Wales was lost to the weather and a nail biting finish to the second saw the Scots go don by five wickets despite a maiden half century for Kirstie Gordon. In the second round of the tournament the Wildcats played Worcestershire and Durham. Unfortunately another two losses but experience is being racked up. 

Despite the weather in the rest of the country the NoSCA annual match with the MCC went ahead in fine conditions at Gordonstoun school. The match ended in a draw as both teams topped two hundred.

May 11th, which just happens to be my birthday, was the date for a memorable event in Scottish cricket this year. Adrian Neill, no relation, a young Aberdeenshire seamer - who stands just two inches short of 7ft - became the first player in National League history to claim all 10 wickets in an innings against Watsonians. A fantastic and rare achievement, well done to him. 

The two sports of cricket and rugby have long gone hand-in-hand and two World Cup Stars helped McCrea Financial Services launch their support of the West of Scotland Cricket Club Season on a lovely sunny evening at Hamilton Crescent. Dougie Lockhart, former Scotland Cricket International and Dan Parks; former Scotland Rugby International came together to help promote the importance of coaching, training and being part of a team. West of Scotland once a powerful force in Scottish cricket are going through tough times and it was great to see an innovative idea to encourage support and participation form the local community. 

As the World Cup T20 Qualifiers loomed ever closer the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced the schedule, which will be staged across eight Ireland and Scotland venues from 9 to 26 July. The top six sides from the 18-day tournament during which 51 matches will be played, will join the 10 Full Members for the ICC World Twenty20 in India early 2016. This is another exciting opportunity not only for our players but also for us to showcase our cricketing credentials. 

It was a big well done to Clydesdale CC who hosted the West Regional Qualifying Tournament in the 2015 Cricket Factory Schools’ Cup. The competition, based around a modified (and shortened) format of the sport, was played using a windball and saw 86 pupils from seven different schools participate. At the end of the day Kyle Academy came out top and will go forward to National Finals Day in June. 

Another show of strength in depth took place as the Scotland U19 team took on the Durham Academy over three matches at Bothwell Policies, Uddingston. The young Scots ran out 2-1 winners with many fine individual performances. 



This month also saw the retirement from International cricket of Ian Wardlaw. During his time with Scotland, the right-arm fast, bowler played in 22 One Day Internationals and four T20 Internationals, taking 45 wickets, with best figures of 4/22 against Afghanistan in Abu Dhabi in early 2015. All at Cricket Scotland wished Ian all success in the future and thanked him for his contributions to Scottish Cricket. 

We were also pleased to announce the new `Last Man Stands Club Awards` for 2015. The awards are part of Cricket Scotland`s continued efforts to support clubs and volunteers. These awards celebrate the successes of clubs and volunteers that are proactive and modern in their approach to club development. 

One disappoint for May, after many funding models being tried and found wanting, we regrettably had to withdraw from the planned project to have a National Cricket Centre based at New Williamfield, Stirling. Despite tremendous support from Stirling Council and Stirling County Cricket Club it has not been able to find a solution, which would have worked for Cricket Scotland. 

A tremendous three-day win in Hampshire against the UAE rounded off a very busy May. A fine century from Preston Mommsen and a five wicket haul from Safyaan Sharif, in the first innings of the UAE, helped Scotland to a fine 275 run win. 

The annual primary schools kwik cricket tournaments were held across Perth and Kinross last week with a phenomenal 86 teams taking part. Two tournaments were held at the beautiful Doo’cot Park cricket ground in Scone, one at Meigle Cricket Club and another at Breadalbane Cricket Club in Aberfeldy. The final tournament was hosted by Kinross-shire Cricket Club and was won by Arngask Primary School who narrowly beat four-time winners, Portmoak Primary School ‘Bears’ A big well done to all the organisers, supporters and teams that took part. 

June

The World T20 Qualifiers were hurtling towards us and at the start of the month we were looking for volunteers to help support the smooth running of competition at the Scottish venues. As it was we got a great response with these volunteers being a huge part of the success of the tournament, but more of that later. 

Our first venture in the Intercontinental Cup was going to be played at New Williamfield against Afghanistan. The anticipation is greater for this competition as this Intercontinental Cup is different from the previous edition. The winner of the eight-team round-robin competition will play the tenth ranked side on the ICC Test Team Rankings (as on 31 December 2017) in a four-match ICC Test Challenge in 2018. If the Associate Member wins the series, to be played on a home and away basis, then it will become the 11th Test nation. What a great incentive for the Scottish team. 

Unfortunately on the first morning as we arrived at the ground it was not a pleasant sight. No play was possible after heavy overnight rain had left the outfield sodden. Play finally got underway after lunch on day 2 after a big clean-up operation.

Afghanistan captain Ashgar Stanikzai won the toss and elected to bowl first under fluffy clouds. At the end of the day Scotland were 227-8.

The weather was still not being kind and play was delayed by persistent drizzle from 9:30am in the morning. After several inspections Scotland’s first innings did eventually resume at 2:50pm. However Scotland were very quickly out for 233. The match was never going to be completed so first innings points were critical. All the bowlers bowled well but pride of place went to Con De Lange on debut who had 3-9 off his 9 overs. At the end of the third day Afghanistan were 96-8. Thankfully Scotland eventually wrapped up a winning draw taking the final two wickets as the weather again interrupted proceedings. Under the circumstances as good as we could have hoped for. 

In the west the West Regional Qualifying Tournaments in the Network Rail National Primary Schools’ Cup 2015 have now been completed.  There were three keenly contested Tournaments with a total of 167 pupils from, 17 different primary schools, participating. The following schools won their Regional Qualifying Tournament and will now go on to attend National Finals’ Day, on Wednesday 17th June, in Perth: Alloway Primary School (Ayrshire), Springhill & Auchenback Primary School (East Renfrewshire) and The High School of Glasgow (Glasgow). Well done again to the organisers, supporters and all the teams that took part. 

The squad for the ICC WT20 Qualifiers in July was announced and Preston Mommsen will have ten players who have represented Scotland at under 19 level at his disposal, as his team aim to Qualify for the T20 World Cup in India in 2016. It is great to see the pathway from age group to senior side so clear. 

More good news as Cricket Scotland announced the launch of the Cricket Scotland Coaches Association. The CSCA will provide support and coach development opportunities bespoke to coaches in Scotland. Another clear indication of the support of quality coaching to deliver and develop quality players.             

It was also encouraging to see Greenock CC open a Multi Use Games Area. The brand new training facility is the culmination of three years of planning and grant accumulation. The investment means the Club now has an amenity, which is all-weather, floodlit and is suitable for a large number of sporting and training uses. This facility extends the ability of the Club to attract further sports and recruit more playing members, particularly those of younger ages. 

For the first time in what seemed like an age, the sun shone and the wind died down, perfect weather for a game of cricket. Kari Anderson took advantage as she led a Cricket Scotland President’s XI to Gatehouse of Fleet to take on a Galloway Ladies team. The President’s XI accumulated 166/5 and then put real pressure on Galloway in the field finally bowling them out well short of the total. However, a great day was had by all we hope that matches like this will inspire the girls and women who play for Galloway and show them how much fun cricket can be. 

Meanwhile Cricket Force continues to gather momentum as another exciting partnership is unveiled. This one with E-On Energy. Hopefully working with E.ON will help our clubs reduce their energy bills and become more sustainable.

The Scotland U15s started their defense of the ECB County Cup against Derbyshire mid month. Unfortunately, a poor batting display culminated in a 7 wicket loss. 

New Williamfield, Stirling was the venue for the second Secondary Schools Girls’ Cricket Competition. George Watson’s College defeated Strathallan in the final to win the S1-S3 cup, which featured eight teams. George Watson’s College showed their skill and experience winning their four games in the round robin format to win the S4-S6 Trophy. 

Scotland Women won one match and lost the other as they started their T20 action in Division 3 of the ECB NatWest Cup. Playing all their games away from home the girls have started well with another couple of games coming up at the start of July. 

The T20 Qualifiers came into view as the Scots warmed up with a series in Ireland. A fantastic performance downed the Irish in the first match. A strong bowling and fielding performance restricted Ireland to 146-5. The Scots on the back of a fine 34 ball 60 from Matt Cross, crossed the finishing line with 23 balls and 6 wickets to spare. Three days later and another fine win. This time chasing 166, Scotland got home with 11 balls to spare after Cross 48 and Mommsen 47 no had paved the way for a 6 wicket win. A final game washout took no gloss off victory for Scotland as they lifted the trophy to celebrate a 2-0 T20I series victory over Ireland at Bready Cricket Club. 

Twice in three days Scotland chased down Ireland, winning by six wickets on both occasions and with plenty to spare, in no small part thanks to 108 runs from Matt Cross, who was deservedly named Man of the Series. The squad look in good shape for the T20 Qualifiers. 

There was a series of firsts at the 2015 National Primary Schools Tournament at the picturesque Doo’cot Park cricket ground in Perth on Wednesday, and despite the sun struggling to break through the clouds, those attending were treated to some scintillating junior cricket and a very warm and friendly atmosphere. This is the first year that Network Rail has generously sponsored the event. For the first time the number of primary schools taking in part in curriculum time taster sessions and local festivals exceeded the 300+ plus mark. This year’s winners from Craigclowan School in Perth defeated their school’s B-team in the Perth and Kinross regional event. There have been two teams from the same town at Finals Day before but both Craigclowan teams progressing to Finals Day meant this was the first time that there were two teams from the same school among the sixteen finalists! Well done to all the organisers, supporters and teams for putting on such a great day. 

National Kwik Cricket Finals (Donald MacLeod)The 2015 Cricket Scotland Secondary School Competition also took place this week. This year’s competition saw a marked increase in the number of entrants taking part in the regional qualifiers with the finalists coming from (East) Merchiston Castle School (West) Hutchesons’ Grammar School (North) Arbroath High School and (South Caledonia) Glenalmond College. The semi-finals saw Glenalmond College play Merchiston Castle and Arbroath High School play Hutcheson’s Grammar. In the first semi-final, Glenalmond College beat Merchiston Castle while in the second Arbroath High School outplayed Hutchesons’ Grammar

The third verses fourth playoff match was won by Merchiston Castle and in the final Arbroath High School lost to Glenalmond College. 

The three Scotland captain’s Preston Mommsen, Abbi Aitken and Neil Flack got the opportunity to take ICC T20 World Cup trophy and ICC World T20 Qualifier trophy took a trip up the iconic Forth Bridge at the end of the month. Several great pictures were taken and again we had good press and media coverage as we build towards the T20 Qualifiers in July. 

As the month draws to a close a great performance from Falkland Cricket Club in the UK National Village Cup.  A dramatic victory over North Yorkshire side, Ouseburn CC, moved Falkland into the sixth round.  

Following on from the very successful `Grow Your Club` Workshops delivered by Sports Marketing Network in Inverness, Inverurie, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh over the last few months, clubs were invited to apply to be part of the unique `Thriving Clubs` programme. The programme will see the selected clubs receive bespoke support from Sports Marketing Network and Cricket Scotland to help in the development of their club. The aim is to assist clubs to become more vibrant, visible, and viable community clubs.  

The following clubs were selected for 2015 programme Northern Counties CC, Forres St Lawrence CC, Stoneywood-Dyce CC, Strathmore CC, Falkland CC, Hillhead CC, Galloway CC, Livingston CC, Royal High Corstorphine CC, Murrayfield-DAFS CC, Gala CC. 

I had the pleasure in the last week in June to support the Brechin Bi-Centennial Celebrations. First with a Forty Club match and then the week culminated in a special match between a CS Presidents XI and a Brechin Select XI. The Forty Club match saw both sides bolstered by five of the Scottish Wildcats. A great game finished in gloomy conditions with an 8 run Forty Club win. On the Sunday both teams were met with beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine. Former internationalist Alex Steele, who not only played in a previous celebration match 40 years earlier but was also man of the match in that fixture, captained the Presidents XI. Batting first the Presidents XI scored 209-7 on the back of an excellent century from Meigle’s Professional Charles Kunje. Brechin bolstered by the inclusion of Kevin Thompson and Neil Paterson made a decent fist of the chase but as the match ended they had come up short. It was an honour to be involved as so many committed people were determined to have cricket back being part of the community and played in the town again.

As June comes to a close, all those associated with the ICC World T20 Qualifiers in Scotland and Ireland are hoping for fair weather. 

Part 1

Images by Donald MacLeod, Ian Potts, Barry Chambers/Cricket Europe, Daily Record

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