2015 a Momentous Year for Scottish cricket - Part 1

24 Dec

2015 was a momentous year for Scottish Cricket, as Cricket Scotland President Colin Neill gives us his  recollections as we move towards the new year. 

January 

January started with the full squad heading off to the UAE for a World Cup warm up series with Ireland and Afghanistan. The first two matches ended in losses however the third was an outstanding victory over Afghanistan and a personal success for Josh Davey who would finish the match as the first ever Scotsman and Associate cricketer to take an ODI five-wicket haul and score 50+ in the same match. He scored 53no and had figures of 6/28. Unfortunately the chance to turn the tables on Ireland was lost to the weather! 

Also in January the ICC announced their ICC Associate and Affiliate Panel of International Umpires for 2015 and it was great to see Allan Haggo join Ian Ramage on the panel for the first time. A well deserved appointment. 

It was sad to see several great characters of Scottish cricket pass away during the month including Jimmy Brown, John Williamson and Gordon Johnstone. 

As the squad got ready to travel to New Zealand and Australia for the World Cup they were invited to Hollyrood to meet the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The first minister wished the squad well and had this to say about cricket in Scotland “Cricket is increasing in popularity in Scotland and the national team qualifying for the 2015 World Cup is not only a fantastic achievement for the side, but also an opportunity to inspire more people to pick up a bat and get into the sport. I’m sure Grant Bradburn and his team will savour the opportunity to represent Scotland on the international stage and I’m confident they will do Scotland, and Scottish sport, proud.” This was just one example of the great support shown to the team from across Scotland. 

The month ended with some great news as ICC Europe announced the winners of the Pepsi ICC Development Awards for the Europe region, with Cricket Scotland winning a hat trick of awards. For the third successive year Cricket Scotland was awarded the Best Overall Cricket Development Programme Award. Natalie Hamblin picked up the Women’s Cricket ‘Behind the Scenes’ Award for Scotland for her work as a coach at both junior boys and girls level, but also as a coach at her local women’s club, Galloway Ladies CC. The third award for Scotland was photo of the year this went to Ian Jacobs for his image captured in Essex in June 2014. Three awards is a great achievement in anyone’s language and reflects the hard work and dedication of cricket in Scotland.

 

February and the World Cup 

February started with the World Cup Squad flying out of Glasgow Airport on route to Sydney and it was a privilege for me to get the chance talk to the squad before departure. I told them that in my opinion this was the best-prepared side we have ever had going to one of these tournaments. I also assured them that we were all right behind them, wished them well, would cheer your successes, feel your disappointments but most of all would be proud of what you achieve no matter what." Glasgow Airport and Emirates did a great job in showing support for the team and there was excellent support shown across the media and social network. 

The official warm ups started well with a big win over Ireland and a century for Matt Machan. There was then a 3 run loss to the West Indies with Kyle Coetzer also just missing out on a century. 

The new kit was unveiled just prior to the competition and by general consensus was one of the hits of the tournament with the tartan sleeves and the names of every Scottish club on the back of the shirt. Things were looking good. 

However reality struck as we faced the joint hosts at Dunedin. Bowled out for 142 despite fine half centuries from Richie Berrington and Matt Machan things looked bleak at the break. However a great and gritty performance in the field gave New Zealand a scare before they got home by three wickets. England were next at Christchurch and batting first they posted an impressive 308-8. Josh Davey was again the pick of the bowlers and was now the leading wicket taker in the competition. Kyle was the top scorer in Scotland’s innings after a fine 71 however we fell short by over a hundred runs.

Kyle Coetzer celebrates his 150 (Getty)

Although the first two games were disappointing our two best hopes of a result were coming up and the whole squad were up and ready for it. The first game was in Dunedin and Josh Davey won his 50th cap. A competitive but not secure 210 was posted and after a fine performance in the field that had Afghanistan 132-8, a win was very much on the cards. However optimism turned to heartbreak as Afghanistan got home by 1 wicket with three balls to spare. 

Bangladesh were next and another match with mixed emotions, first we posted 318-8 with Kyle Coetzer scoring a record breaking 159, the first century by a Scot at the World Cup, obviously the highest score by a Scot but also the highest score by a member of an associate member team. Kyle was man of the match but unfortunately another loss this time by six wickets.

So with two matches to go the squad headed for Tasmania and games with the big two, Australia and Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankans in our second last match posted 363-9 with three more wickets for Josh Davey. In reply the highlight was a 118 run fourth wicket stand between Freddie Coleman, who scored 70, and Preston Mommsen who contributed 60. However we again fell short by a long way. So one more match of the World Cup Dream and that against the Tournament favourites. Preston Mommsen lost his fifth toss and the boys went out to face Mitchell Johnson, Stark and Patrick Cummins truly a trial by fire. Only Machan, MacLeod, Davey and Leask got into double figures and a score of 130 was not going to trouble Australia. When Australia batted there was time for Josh Davey to get another wicket taking his tally in the tournament to 15. By the tournament’s end Josh was equal eighth highest wicket taker. 

The World Cup was a disappointment, a realistic target of two wins was not achieved and despite many excellent individual performances Kyle Coetzer, the first century in the World Cup from a Scot and the highest score from an associate player. Josh Davey second best leading wicket taker in the first round, fine innings from Matt Machan, Richie Berrington, Preston Mommsen and Freddie Coleman excellent work and perhaps the stumping of the tournament form Matt Cross those individual performances were never put together in a winning team cause. 

I’m sure that the whole squad will have learnt much from the occasion and performances. 

Preston Mommsen faces the media (Getty/ICC)

What was great to see however was the fantastic support both here and in New Zealand for the squad and the Social Media traffic really put Scottish Cricket up there and in the eyes of the whole of Scotland. 

February/March

Meanwhile back home we were able to launch Jewson Cricket Force Scotland. Thanks to this launch Scottish local cricket clubs will be able to get their hands on funding to spend on improving their club facilities and many did. 

There was a lot of action in the Ladies game in February. The Moray Cricket Association launched the inaugural Moray Girl’s Indoor tournament. There were wins for Carlton, Stirling and Edinburgh University at the Indoor Cricket Series for Women’s events at Grangemouth, Loretto and Dollar. While a good few of the Ladies International squad were also wintering in New Zealand. 

Further partnerships were announced during the month. These included partnerships between Cricket Scotland and Simpson and partners, the groundwork and pitch care specialists based here in Scotland and Cricket Scotland and Insuring Sport. The partnership between Insuring Sport and Cricket Scotland will be included as part of Cricket Scotland`s Cricket Force Scheme. A programme aimed at providing tangible support to help clubs become more visible, viable and vibrant. Also the first Jewson Cricket Force weekend was held at the end of the month with many of Scotland’s International squad, men’s and women’s, helping Brechin, Marchmont and Galloway Cricket Clubs get to work. All told over 25 clubs from across the country have signed up to the scheme to run great club events in preparation for the coming season. 

It was great to see Grange U13s succeed in the Primrose Hill CC indoor tournament. The competition was played at Lords in the MCC Cricket Academy, which offered the boys excellent facilities for hard-ball indoor Cricket. The weekend was a huge success with the Grange winning all their matches to clinch the overall U13 Tournament Trophy. In doing so Grange defeated Holland U13 twice, both in the group format and then again in the overall Final, with impressive margins of victory.

I was also able to help Helensburgh Cricket Club launch it’s 2015 Schools’ Cricket Programme with a bespoke Kwik Cricket “Acquaint Evening” for local Primary School teachers. Regional Participation Manager Tim Hart delivered the course and I was delighted to be able to help out. 

In the middle of March the International Cricket Council announced the schedule for both the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship and the ICC Intercontinental Cup from 2015 to 2017. In 2015 we would play Afghanistan at home and the Netherlands away in the I-Cup and Nepal at home and the Netherlands away in the ICC World Cricket League. 

2015 was an exciting time for the Woman’s game with the T20 World Cup Qualifiers scheduled for later in the year so it was with excitement that the team, newly promoted, had first sight of their fixtures in Division Two of the ECB Royal London Woman’s One day Championship. 

The month came to a close when I chaired my first Cricket Scotland AGM, which was held at Inverleith home of Stewarts/Melville Cricket Club. A good turn out reviewed the Annual Report and Accounts. 

There were awards for former and current Scotland captains who were honoured for their achievements on and off the field. Gordon Drummond was given the Basil D’Oliveira Bowl for outstanding contributions across all areas of cricket. Preston Mommsen collected his Associate and Affiliate Player of the Year award and the HK More Batting Trophy for 2014 while Women’s Coach

Kari Carswell was announced as the Women’s Batting and Bowling Player of the Year, and also Player’s Player in 2014.  

Bruce Dixon was elected as the future Cricket Scotland President and was a great help and support during the season. The other change saw Tony Brian replace Keith Oliver as Chairman. Keith served Scottish Cricket for twelve years. Much happened during his tenure and I for one had great support during my first year as President from him. 

Images by Donald MacLeod, Getty Images/ICC

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