Scotland’s international cricketers have been fully occupied in Dubai in recent weeks. But another squad of Scottish cricketers is preparing to depart these shores for Cape Town, to participate in the Last Man Stands (LMS) World Championships, which start on Saturday (December 9).
They go under the name of FULTON’S FLYERS, because they are sponsored by the Glasgow-based HF Group, which is located half a mile from Clydesdale Cricket Club, from whose members the Flyers draw their talent.
The Flyers won the LMS Scottish Championships at the end of the 2016 season, their prize being a generous donation towards the costs of representing Scotland among the 32 teams at the Cape Town event.
Last Man Stands is, of course, a relative newcomer to the family of ‘instant’ cricketing formats. But in the six years of its existence, it has attracted more than 90,000 players and 10,000 teams from all over the world to enter their local leagues (three of which are located in Scotland).
The format is, without doubt, wacky – and fun. Twenty five-ball overs for each eight-a-side team, with all eight wickets needed to finish an innings (LMS). Two wickets can fall off the same ball, the striker caught and the non-striker run out if s/he doesn’t complete two runs before the bowler’s-end bails come off.
The big attraction for the batting side is to make sure that your big hitter is still there and facing the final ball of the innings. If the ball is hit for six, it counts 12 to the team’s total… and if it turns out to be a no-ball, then the extra ball, too, could sail over the boundary for another tally of 12.
Paddy Barbour is the skipper of the Fulton’s Flyers – as he was when they won the Scottish Championships. He’s a shrewd calculator of all the options that present themselves during the madcap game, which can be all over quicker than a football match.
“If we want to earn the chance to compete for the world championship, we need to win two of our initial three pool matches,” he explains. That would take the Flyers into the Championship Last 16, and it’s a knockout event from then on. But there’s also a Plate Last 16, so the Flyers will have a guaranteed minimum of four matches to play in Cape Town, come what may.
“Most of our players have first-team experience at Clydesdale, and between us we’ve played in more than 50 LMS games, so we will be competitive,” says Paddy Barbour. “And the format makes each game a bit of a lottery, so even the best teams can falter unexpectedly.”
The Flyers are taking a squad of nine players, ranging in age from 18 to 31, along with three support staff. The other eight players are: Arun Krishna, Andrew Scobie, Kasim Farid, Calum Drummond, Sheryar Awan, Gordon Munro, Billy Pirzada and Owain Taylor.
Four grounds within the complex that is the Western Province Cricket Club in Cape Town will be in use. The main venue is the Wally Wilson Oval, which is where the Flyers start their bid for glory, the last of the four games played there on the opening day (14.00 GMT start time).
As all 29 matches being played at the Wally Wilson Oval are being live-streamed to the world by Glasgow-based QTV Sports, this will be a great opportunity to parade the Flyers’ outrageous tartan-and-saltire playing kit, which was modelled by the skipper before they departed Glasgow’s winter for 10 days in the 30-degree sunshine.
You can follow how Paddy Barbour and his team get on through the www.lastmanstands.com website, and you can tune in to the live coverage on Facebook/lastmanstands [- or watch the games on the embedded player on www.cricketscotland.com].