Sean McPartlin Blog - Background

04 Feb
Sean McP
Sean McPartlin - Cricket Scotland Blogger Sean McPartlin gives us his latest blog from the stands as the Scotland team arrive back from New Zealand and hails some of the work that goes on off the field. He Tweets here

When the New York Post’s cub reporter, Jimmy Breslin, was told to go to Washington DC in November 1963 and write about President Kennedy’s funeral, he tried to escape the assignment. With the world’s press gathered, how could he come up with a story to match the occasion which was original? His editor was unsympathetic, and the night before the state funeral, Jimmy found himself in Arlington, Virginia, metaphorically scratching his head and  sucking his pencil. How to find a new angle? 

Then he met Clifton Pollard. 

Pollard was the man charged with digging Kennedy’s grave for the next day’s funeral.

When the grave was dug, he paused, and, doing his job, despite the enormity of the occasion,  realized there was good soil on the hillside slope which could be used for encouraging plants in other areas of the cemetery, so he arranged for a truck to transport it. Breslin asked him how he would feel at the next day’s funeral, and Pollard replied that he wouldn’t be there. He had three graves to dig on the other side of the hill and had to get that finished. He would try to get to the President’s grave later on, after the ceremonies, but meanwhile, he felt ‘honoured’ to have been responsible for the work. 

The story has become part of jourmalistic folklore: “the gravedigger angle”, and it came back to me as I wondered how to blog about Cricket Scotland’s fantastic success in New Zealand. From the Scottish Parliament to the national press to BBC Scotland – all have had their say, all have recognized the grand achievements of the squad under Craig Wright and Paul Collingwood, with the leadership of Kyle Coetzer and Preston Mommsen and any amount of sparkling individual performances. What more can be written? 

Well, despite some gloomy predictions, it turned out nobody was needed to bury Scotland’s World Cup hopes, but the gravedigger angle still pertains. 

I wondered how you get two dozen folk to the other side of the world, prepared to play cricket at international level, and maintained in a positive frame of mind. Anyone who has taken a family on holiday for a couple of weeks will have an idea of the logistics involved in meeting all the individual needs, and managing those moments when officialdom is encountered and everything has to be just right. Imagine the pressures involved when the ‘family’ involved young sportsmen and international competition. 

So, having rightly acknowledged the efforts of coaching and playing staff, I tip my hat to the rest of the Cricket Scotland organization. I’ve blogged previously about the work of groundsmen and volunteers at club and national level, but praise be to those who book the flights, coaches, and hotels, who operate the office, who prepare the kit and manage the laundry, who tend to injuries and mishaps, who take the pictures and send the communications, who record the stats and crunch the numbers, who set up the cameras and share the analysis, who issue the press releases and respond to enquiries, who let the players play and the coaches coach. You all know who you are, you all played your part, and the lads couldn’t have done it without you. And like Clifton Pollard, you may not have been in the spotlight, but I’m sure you considered it an honour. 

They also serve who fix the stands and paint!

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