Saltire County memories

18 Sep

Scottish SaltiresWith the curtain finally being drawn on the current life of the Scottish Saltires at the end of the 2013 season, we invited you to send in some of your memories from years gone by.



Jake Perry - My personal County highlight has to be last year, home to Surrey at The Grange. Not a particularly remarkable match – good bowling, with only Jacques Rudolph getting away, and then a very promising batting performance, Richie Berrington starting to catch up with Duckworth-Lewis and looking like producing a tight finale before Independence Day-style clouds brought hail-stopped-play (the look on Jade Dernbach’s face as he left a field covered in ice will stay with me for a while).

What made it special for me is that it was the first match that my son Douglas came to, and it went a long way towards igniting his passion for the game. Meeting players from both sides, who were such decent guys, happy to sign autographs and chat, being close to the action, with the informality of being able to move to a new view if you want to – it all added to an inspiring experience for him. Now cricket daft - playing for the juniors at our local club and a mad-keen Saltires fan. The weather still not playing ball, though...



Ian Anderson - Scottish Saltires v Hampshire Hawks, June 1st 2003

NCL Programme My interest in cricket generally extends to a vague supporting of whichever country happens to be playing England at the time – immature, I know, but it is all matter of genetics. 

For a brief period, however, I followed the fortunes of the freshly re-branded Scottish Saltires who had in 2003, quite inexplicably, been invited to join the ECB National Cricket League.  The Grange cricket ground, which the Saltires would call home, lay about a mile from my place of work, so it was easy enough to take a half-day off and toddle along to see how our lads were doing. 

Scotland had somehow managed to persuade Indian Rahul Dravid, then one of the leading players in the world to sign up for a three month stint beginning in June – Goodness Me, even I had heard of him.  Scotland actually began their campaign in May with surprising wins at both Durham and Lancashire, leading some wit to opine Dravid may struggle to get a place in the side!

GrangeThe first match I saw at the Grange was in the pre-Dravid days, a Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy match against Somerset.  Like most folks who are used to seeing cricket on TV, I guess, the first time I watched it in the flesh as it were, I was amazed by (a) how far apart the two sets of wickets are and (b) how fast the bowler can shift the ball.  Scotland toiled away to a total of 138, which I thought looked reasonably respectable. 

But after a break for lunch, out onto the crease stepped the formidable Marcus Trescothick, who just bashed the ball with apparent ease to all corners of the ground.  I think he pretty much chased down the Scottish score single handed.  Oh Dear, I thought, Scotland seem utterly out of their depth at this level.  But then did not the same Scotland side defeat the same Somerset side on the same ground, two days later in a league match!!  Cricket really is a strange game.

The game from which the pictures and programme comes from was an ECB National Cricket (i.e. Sunday) League match versus Hampshire Hawks; the crowd (around 2,000) being significantly larger for this one.  This was, I think Rahul Dravid’s debut, but he was dismissed for only 25 runs as Scotland lost by 6 wickets. 

At one point, during the Hampshire innings when Dravid was fielding out near the boundary line, a girl with a marker pen trotted on to the pitch to request an autograph from the great man.  Having no paper, she pulled down the top of her t-shirt looking to have her cleavage autographed.  The dignified Dravid declined, looking baffled and embarrassed in equal measure – he was on his honeymoon, after all.
Grange

 

Adam Brook - I remember when the announcement was made that Scotland would be fielding a team in the English county one day tournament.

I was excited for Scotland, Scottish cricket and also for myself. This was a great opportunity for home grown players to bridge the gap between Scottish club cricket and the international world by adding a quality stepping stone of some high class experience. 

The chance to host some games on a regular basis would add to the exposure of cricket in Scotland too and with the rules allowing two international players in each team (added to the potential of England national players playing for their home counties when not on England duty added to the prospect of seeing some amazing international players that I would otherwise not have the chance to see play in the country I call home).

 All in all it was set to be an exciting time for Scottish cricket and cricket in Scotland.  

I looked on in envy as the schedule was announced and tried to set my work rota around when the home games were. At the time I worked as an underpaid, undervalued, assistant manager in a retail outlet in Stockbridge, struggling to make ends meet with the crushing weight of a mortgage and the tedious need to eat three times a day.   

However, I did work close to where the games were due to be played at the grange ground and vowed that if I couldn’t get the days off I needed that I would rush round during my lunch break and peer over the wall, risking cuts from the surprisingly sharp and annoying holly trees (probably planted there by the authorities especially to discourage scallys like me from glimpsing some free high class cricket). 

I remember when the supporter’s packs or members passes were announced. All ten home games included plus access to the members stand (the only place in the whole ground with any shelter providing welcome protection from the blazing sunshine we were guaranteed to get, and also offering one of the best/loveliest views of any cricket ground I have ever seen.) and also a nifty gold credit card sized gold members pass that you could whip out and show the security guard that would make him smile at you and politely move the barrier enough so you could swan past him like a big star entering the V.I.P. area of an exclusive club, leaving the hoi polloi behind, on the other side of the fence with the rest of the rabble, where they deserved to be.

 AND on top of all that it ALSO included entry to the Scotland v Australia full One Day International!!! 

And all for the ever so tantalizing, just out of reach (for a drone from sector 7G like myself), but actually really rather good value, price of £100. 

I wondered how I could justify this expense to wife. 

I’m no math wizard but I reckoned that if there were ten county games that I could go to that would make it a tenna for each game (saving about a third of each individual adult ticket) and then the international game against Australia would be FREE.

Amazing value that just couldn’t be ignored.

I took this formula to the economic committee (the wife) and presented my case.

She said no. 

I made a whining sound like a fan belt slipping in a car engine crossed with a cross two year old. 

Wife said “If you can figure out how to squeeze a spare £100 out of this (she threw the household accounts at me) you can buy your bloody poncey pass.” 

After several hours of juggling numbers, cooking various books and shifting decimal points and of forgetting to carrying the one, I went back to making the sound of a slipping fan belt and a terrible toddler. 

Weeks go by and I continue to covert the gold members pass and the prospect of enjoying the debut season of the Scottish satires and all the promise of a bright future it contains while continuing to watch the bank account fail to grow enough to accommodate being a first-hand witness of it. 

Then one day, weeks after my birthday (the month after my birthday is not my birthday MUM!!!) my mother sends me a card. A birthday card. It contains a cheque. 

It contains a cheque for the precise and exact amount that a gold member’s season ticket to the Scottish Saltires debut cricket season in the English domestic league competition thingy would costs.

It must be a sheer coincidence. 

Wife says “ohhhhh, that’s nice of your mum. You should put it toward something nice for yourself and not fritter it away on crisps and magazines.  Do you have any idea what you’re going to spend it on?

“Um, maybe.” I say rather sheepishly as a slow grin grows across my formerly forlorn features. 

“Really?” replies wife. “HOWZATT” 

I don't think I had smiled so much since I took 5 for 11 in a one day game when I was sixteen years old. 

That reminds me, better buy her some flowers.

 

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