Sean McPartlin - Let's Work Together
Sean McPartlin - Cricket Scotland Blogger Sean McPartlin gives us his latest blog after the T20 Qualifiers.
The shows in town for Edinburgh’s Christmas don’t yet include a roller coaster, but, if they did, it would surely carry the logo of Cricket Scotland. Closing the laptop lid on another unsuccessful tournament, I realised, like their counterparts at Murrayfield and Hampden, our cricketing Scots seem to have become adept at taking us almost there but not quite.
Of course there will be recriminations, and the twitterati soon hit the keyboards with their solutions after the Dutch game. Inquests will be held and decisions made, but three things remain unalterable: you can’t guarantee victories in any sport at any level, you always need a bit of luck and as England batting coach Graham Gooch said this week: “ Coaches can advise but players are the masters”.
Certainly, anyone who witnessed the batting of Machan and Leask, or the overall bowling performance of Majid Haq last week, would be aware that, along with the likes of Coetzer, Mommsen and MacLeod, Scotland has the personnel to make a far bigger splash in the Associate pool. The search for consistency continues to be the key to success.
I’ve said before that Scotland, like Ireland, would benefit greatly from the exposure and confidence that would come from beating a Test playing nation, but I feel that off the pitch, there is much that can be offered by the supporters of Scottish Cricket. The Irish lads get huge support at home now even from folk with little knowledge of the game – simply because they are a national side and are well promoted as such by the national broadcaster.
However, Scottish cricket, it has to be said, is not a very broad kirk.
During the Australia international this summer, three different folk approached me in Raeburn Place, not 50 yards from the ground, to ask what was going on. Within the ground, it often seems to ‘walk up fans’ that everybody else in the ground knows each other from club, school, or career bases. It would be good to widen the support.
As a small organization with limited funds, Cricket Scotland can only achieve so much in terms of publicity. The coaches, development officers, and other office holders do good work but are limited in number, and, rightly, their efforts are focused on increasing the numbers who play the sport. The same can be said of the hundreds of volunteers who give so much time to keep clubs going. They can only do so much.
Maybe we should also be targeting, as spectators, those who are interested in cricket but have never been to a live game. Over the past decade, I reckon there is a hard core of about 400 supporters who never miss a game, wear the merchandise, and fly the flag. You have to wonder: if they are willing to sit for 5 hours at a dreich Portgower Place in the hopes of a Scottish victory, what else would they be willing to do to spread the word on Scottish cricket?
If we put these hard core supporters on a database and find out what they are willing to offer in terms of time and effort, we could widen the game’s reach to potential spectators. Posters could be distributed to schools, shops, clubs, health and community centres, gyms. Supporters could volunteer to speak to school groups, local clubs, PE teachers, college students. Imagine a Cricket Scotland DVD showreel that could be shown as part of any promotional talk? Wouldn’t any sports fan be excited at the prospect of a live game when he saw highlights of Michael Leask’s fine innings from last week or Majid Haq’s bowling? Why not offer local shopkeepers an opportunity to get involved in catering or trading in the ground? Let’s use these ‘400 ambassadors’ to promote merchandise and get it out there as an awareness raising exercise. There must be thousands who wear Scottish Rugby gear who’ve never been near a rugby ground but who ‘promote the brand’. If even half of those regular attenders promoted the game in these ways in their locality or through social media, the support base would be widened, awareness would be raised.
We need to be positive about Scottish cricket. Of course results are important, but as any sports fan will tell you, they cannot be depended upon; we need a support base who support Cricket Scotland because they represent the country, not merely on condition of victories. The Tartan Army seem to manage it in football!
I believe the players will respond to a support which says: “We’re with you!” rather than: “Prove you’re worth my support!”
We can sit back and say “Must do better!” or we can get involved and carry the team, and the organisation, forward.
Let’s get involved!