President's Blog - Season 2014
As a busy first season for the newly elected Cricket Scotland President, Colin Neill, heads towards its conclusion, he has given the Cricket Scotland website a synopsis of the year so far through his eyes.
That was the week that was, or rather that was the season that was. I found my first season as Cricket Scotland President neatly topped and tailed at Stirling Cricket Club at the end of September.
My first official function was to attend and support the launch of the Scottish Women’s Cricket Association in April at Cricket Scotland HQ in Edinburgh. The launch took place in the middle of the Scottish Wildcats and Development Squad’s Spring Training Camp and it was a pleasure to see the enthusiasm, commitment and skill set of the young athletes attending.
So the first term was off and running, the ODI with England was on the horizon and despite the inclement weather in Aberdeen it couldn’t dampen the occasion. It ended up a 20/20 encounter lit up by Michael Leask’s sparkling 42. On official duty it was an honour to present Alistair Cook with the Royal London Trophy.
The game with England was also an opportunity to meet Scotland’s new coach in waiting, Grant Bradburn, and what a nice and knowledgeable man he turned out to be.
In June I travelled to Leeds to watch the Development Squad take on the Yorkshire Academy. Again, it was great to see the rising talent that Scotland has. The match ended in a loss on the last day but not before I witnessed several promising performances.
Then there was the three International’s against the Dutch, which produced a fantastic century for Calum MacLeod in the second fixture. Unfortunately, with the series poised at 1-1, the rain returned to Glasgow and the third and final match was rained off.
Scotland really should have won both matches but a second innings collapse from a position of real strength made game one a disappointment.
During the season I also managed to visit Fettes, Merchiston, Loretto, Strathallan, Glasgow Academy, Kelvinside Academy and Lomond School on Forty Club duty and again was impressed with the talent coming through those schools.
Another first for me was the opportunity to lead a Senior Scotland XI against the England Spitfires (Over 60s XI). This match took place in Teeside and, although it resulted in a loss for Scotland, it was well fought and will hopefully become an annual fixture. The Scots were undone by Graham Swann’s dad, Ray Swan, who scored a fine half century during the England innings.
There were a couple of Cricket Scotland President’s XI fixtures; firstly with Heriots to celebrate their 125th Anniversary and then later in the season at Tranent to open their new cricket facility. Both proved to be thoroughly enjoyable occasions.
We then moved into August with three matches against New Zealand A, these games were an eye opener not just for me but, also I suspect, for the Scotland players. On top at the half way stage in game one, two centuries from Test stars BJ Watling and Grant Elliott showed the standard that we have to aspire to. The gulf between the two teams was most evident in the bowling, where the New Zealand seamers just produced more gas. However Scotland fielded magnificently and never gave up in all three games - a standard that coach Bradburn will insist on every time they cross the boundary rope.
I was able to attend the Rowan Cup Final, won by Clydesdale, and an excellent Finals day at Stirling Cricket Club. Of the two finals the more exciting was undoubtedly Kilmarnock v Irvine which was won in the last over with the last two batsmen at the crease.
In the Scottish Cup Final between Grange and Clydesdale a tremendous partnership between Ryan Flannigan and Neil McCallum (pictured) helped Grange post a total over 200. The Grange slow bowlers then strangled the Clydesdale batters, despite a fine 69 from Richie Berrington.
There was time to help launch Memories Cricket Club, which uses Cricket images and memorabilia to help recall and improve self-confidence in people with dementia. Cricket Scotland is delighted to work in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland on this project.
I was also asked to present the awards to the various Volunteer of the Month Awards from across the country, and honour those who give up so much of their time helping cricket in Scotland to flourish. Last Man Stands sponsors the awards and it was a great to meet Paul Reddish, the man behind that support.
There was also time to play eleven times for the Forty Club against schools and village sides the length and breadth of Scotland and even umpire the Inter District match between Scotland and the North East of England.
On the playing side my season ended on the last weekend of September with a trip to Carradale Cricket Club, surely the most remote cricket club in the country. A fantastic bunch, tremendously keen and delighted when teams travel to play them on the Mull of Kintyre.
As I said at the start of this blog my last official duty was to attend the Cricket Scotland Women’s awards night took place on Saturday 27th September at Stirling County Cricket Club. I presented the trophies to the Scotland U17s. What a fantastic group of athletes. It was a pleasure to see again the enthusiasm of all the young women that play the game in Scotland.
So that’s it 2014 season is over, I look forward to season 2015.