Blog -Keith Oliver in New Zealand
Executive Chairman Keith Oliver reflects on Scotland's first two weeks in the ICC Cricket World Cup from New Zealand
We were pleased to arrive out into the welcoming fresh Christchurch air on the afternoon of 15 February having left Glasgow early afternoon on Friday 13th and travelled via Dubai, Bangkok and Sydney, as well as experiencing rigorous New Zealand customs.
We are following the team by driving everywhere and as a result we have seen a huge amount of the ever changing landscape of the fantastic South Island of New Zealand, dramatic coastlines on east and west,rolling hills and dramatic mountains and lakes.
The locals have been extremely friendly and we have been made very welcome wherever we have been, in particular the wonderful hospitality at the cricket venues from the excellent Cricket World Cup volunteers and representatives of Canterbury and Otago Cricket as well as the New Zealand cricket board .
The team and us as supporters have been lucky enough to play twice at the stunning University Oval, Dunedin and once at the new Oval in Christchurch,a lovely new ground in Hagley Park which is part of the city centre park and Botanical garden cherished by the people of this city so recently devastated by the 2011 earthquake. Both grounds have details and designs I think we could build into our own proposed stadium in Stirling.
The presence of the Scottish team on the worldwide tv and radio coverage has been strong.
In my role as Chairman of Cricket Scotland, I was interviewed by Paul Allott of Sky before the New Zealand game and also I was invited onto Test Match Special to commentate on the game, when we were 12 for 4; thankfully when I was on the air we managed not to lose any wickets. Perhaps I should try it more often...
The Scottish diaspora is very prevalent here in New Zealand, particularly in Dunedin. The boys were given a huge welcome the day before the New Zealand game at a public event and were front page news of the Otago press the next day.
My family and I were privileged to be invited to the memorial service in Christchurch on the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, joining with our team and support staff who were all there and looked terrific. The team had arranged for a wreath of flowers in our new Cricket Scotland tartan which Preston laid on the Memorial, and I had the privilege to walk up with him as part of the ceremony; it was a very moving experience for all present and I know I speak for the team and my family in thanking the people of Christchurch and the Christchurch Council for allowing us the opportunityof being there.
I cannot speak highly enough of the way in which the team and support staff have conducted themselves throughout the tournament, both on and off the pitch. And I think we would all agree that our strips are definitely the best out there!
During the various games when invited to speak, I have expressed, on behalf of Cricket Scotland, both in Christchurch and Dunedin what a privilege it was for our team to be in New Zealand and for the hospitality shown to us; I sense a real affinity with New Zealand cricket epitomised in my wife and I being entertained in the home of Stephen Boock, the President of New Zealand Cricket. I look forward to maintaining and building on the strong relationships I have built on behalf of Scottish Cricket during this World Cup.
Already, I have received enthusiastic support for my suggestion of an organised bilateral arrangement with both Canterbury and Otago cricket. This would offer opportunities for our high performance men and women players to play in an environment familiar to them in our respective winters, I intend to pursue this opportunity as a priority, the lifestyle and career opportunities for our players are self evident.
I was pleased to be able to facilitate the presentation to Majid Haq, on behalf of Cricket Scotland, of a hand engraved silver plate to recognise his becoming Scotland's most capped player and leading wicket taker, on the field at the University Oval before the roller coaster ride that was the Afghanistan match.
We are now on our way up to Nelson along with our small but dedicated group of supporters and look forward to watching the boys once again in action against Bangladesh. Let's hope we can bring home a much deserved win!
We have lots going on at home, in particular around progressing discussions in respect of the proposed new national stadium and our project to ensure cricket is on the physical education programme of schools throughout Scotland.We are also moving towards hosting the 20/20 World Cup qualifier in July, a huge event for Scottish Cricket.
Yours in hope of a win in Nelson.