LMS with Kevin Ferrie
Kevin Ferrie takes us through his first experience of Last Man Stands at the inaugural Edinburgh Open 2015.
As the tournament ended, an anxious wait got underway... 37 years after playing my first club game a world ranking was at last in the pipeline.
Playing in the inaugural Edinburgh Open Last Man Stands (LMS) tournament alongside skipper John Moore, Rob Amos, J Atherton, Harry Burnett, Matthew Chapman, Adey Hartley and Josh Lindsay for the mighty ‘Bromborough Penguins/Wirral Cobras touring combo (our record on the weekend was played three, lost three by ever-increasing margins) around an array of capital venues was an introduction to a project that addresses many of the issues facing a rather too staid sport.
For me, a first ever taste of what was once derided as ‘pyjama cricket’ with shorts de rigeur at the first flicker of sunlight the loss of formality was liberating and helped generate a completely different cricketing environment, very much in keeping with innovative rules that are designed to ensure that everyone gets involved and that games rollick along at a decent pace.
In its way, given the relationship of the two rugby codes, it seemed apt, too, that our first opponents, Bass Rocks, contained among their number Keith Hogg, chairman of Rugby League Scotland. There is something very down-to-earth northern about it all and in spite of J’s despondency on pulling the first ball of our opening match on Sunday morning directly into the hands of one Keith’s team-mates on the square leg boundary, the general attitude of this bunch of Scousers was devil-may-care with the emphasis on the social side of touring.
All the moreso when, having had just long enough to stiffen up in between times – around five hours – we then played in the final match of the opening day against rather tougher opposition in London-based ‘He Swings to the Left’ and found we had attracted a following in the shape of the Penguins’ and Cobras’ Wirral League rivals ‘The Shed’.
Relieved of their playing uniform of bright orange kit and Harry Enfield-style curly wigs and ‘taches, their schedule had allowed for a considerable top up of the previous night’s excesses through the afternoon. Consequently, the good-natured abuse directed at our opponents, along with the supportive chanting for our lads was essentially unprintable, but the pitch invasion which greeted the highly unexpected development of skipper Mooro taking a wicket, courtesy of a catch in the deep by Chappers, will live long in the memory.
There were, admittedly, elements of this coarse cricket that were less unfamiliar in terms of overall conditioning to someone who started out with a bunch of old school-pals in a Dundee public park and whose most regular companions these days are the Scottish Forty Club, a bunch of old codgers whose most regular opening bowler John ‘Cammy” Cameron has a standard pre-match warm-up of two bottles of Miller.
However in terms of providing a chance to embrace the ethos of this version of the sport Paul Reddish, sometime Forty clubber and main organiser of LMS in Scotland, got the match-up exactly right.
“John and the boys are a great bunch. They pretty much sum up LMS,” he said afterwards.
“It’s a great format, I’m glad I got involved. John is a prime example of someone who would never have even thought about rocking up to a local club. Fifty-over structured cricket in whites with four hours in the field really isn’t for these lads.
“I think it could well become our sport’s answer to five a side football – participation for the masses. The shortened matches with everyone is involved in the game and all the organising taken care of so you don’t need a formal club structure, just a few mates to call team-mates, pretty much takes care of all the things the majority of the population are put off by regular cricket. We’ve now had 34 different teams from Scotland playing in at least one organised tournament of some description, local leagues, cups or the open.”
As for the tournament itself which, like the network of LMS Opens now being set up all over the UK and world-wide, aimed to mix local teams with visiting tourists, Reddish is hopeful that a foundation has been set.
“It went as well I could have hoped for first year,” was his assessment.
“The teams all seemed to have a great time and I’ve no doubt many will be back next year when I think we’ll have separate competitive and social competitions, so there are less mismatches on day one. I suspect we’ll get a lot more than 18 teams next year after the success of it, so that gives us the opportunity to do something like that.
“I am hoping this will now be a real launch-pad for both the Open and LMS in Scotland. I’m planning on launching leagues in Glasgow and one other place next year as well as hopefully growing Edinburgh, East Lothian and Dundee by around 50 %. My personal target is to have 50 to 60 teams playing in Scotland at the end of year three and an Open of at least 24 teams next year.”
In overall terms it feels like they may be onto a winner with this rough and ready format and a name that seems as relevant to the social side as to its cricketing rules, while in this ego-driven, statistics-obsessed sport establishing, then allowing players to improve upon an individual world ranking is little short of genius.