Blog - My Spectating Debut

02 Jun

Cricket Scotland Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Cannon gives his recollections on his first trip to a global event with the Scottish Cricket team.

A seasoned traveller never worries about the next trip. Excitement, anticipation, optimism of adventure yes - never worry.  But travelling with the national squad for the World T20 tournament in India certainly brought with it a few butterflies.  Despite attending international matches and events in 8 or 9 different sports through the years, this was to be my first ever international cricket match!

Having visited India many times before during my days in the Scotch whisky industry, I was ready for the heat, the crazy queues, the apparent job-creation schemes and the sheer number of people.  However, what I had not previously appreciated was the fascination and almost religious passion for the game of cricket.  From the moment I hooked up with the playing and coaching squad there was a constant stream of locals wanting selfies, group pictures and a desire merely to be close to international cricket players.  Sadly, nobody mistook me for one of those elite sportsmen!

The ICC generously cover all the costs of the support squad travelling to the tournament which means that the players, coaches, physio and media manager all get to attend this great event with no cost or direct impact on Scottish Cricket’s pockets.  This makes for a relaxing, though long, journey to India, but also allows for chance encounters as the one which happened to us in the lounge at Dubai Airport where we happened upon the entire West Indies squad en-route to their own warm-up matches.  We could not have known that some 4 weeks later those same players would be lifting the trophy having seen off England in the final, but if it were down to sheer physical presence, we might easily have guessed! They are enormous!

The trip to Nagpur took over 24 hours door to door which was exhausting but to eventually arrive and be escorted with police out-riders to the hotel was exciting.  Nagpur itself is known for its oranges, tigers, cricket and for its proximity to Bhopal, the scene of the 1984 industrial disaster when a chemical plant exploded killing over 3800 people.  Certainly, the area between the hotel and the cricket stadium could not be described as pretty but it is certainly a buzzing metropolis and a city of great industry.  The juxtaposition of extreme poverty and great wealth, as in the rest of India, is a sobering proposition and though even more extreme in Delhi and Mumbai, it is still very evident in Nagpur.

But whatever the caste, whatever the class, everyone has cricket. They play it everywhere, they talk about it all the time and it is on 8 different channels on the TV! The Nagpur VCA cricket stadium itself seats 45,000 people in a ‘bowl’ which amplifies sound to the extent that the ‘mediocre’ crowds of 2-3,000 at our games could produce a deafening noise!

Ahead of the tournament I was warned by senior sports managers and administrators that watching one’s sport was pointless and frustrating as it was “one of many aspects of the job over which you have no control”.  Wise words indeed!  But to have been present at Scotland’s first ever international victory at a global tournament was a great joy.

Meeting and interacting with the representatives of the other competing nations was also a great honour.  The Zimbabwe delegation, for instance, included some real characters who were extremely worried about the result of our match until the fat lady sang!  And the Hong Kong party were fun to be around and partied with us even though they had been beaten.

Overall, a triumph for cricket, a great privilege to act as an ambassador for Scotland, a humbling experience in many ways and a continued learning curve for me and for the players as we strive for ever-higher heights.

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