Matt Butler: As English as warm beer, as Scots as Douglas Jardine
View From The Sofa: Sport Nation, BBC2
Monday 17 June 2013
As oxymorons go, Scottish cricket sounds on a par with Dutch mountaineering, English gridiron or extreme golf. Heck, earlier this month the national side lost a 40-over match to Essex, of all counties – they of the 20 all out on Friday. In the next match they even lost to Australia's second string.
But believe it or not, Scotland has quite a history when it comes to cricket. Even though it is down to "English imperialism", according to historian David Potter, that the game took a foothold at all.
Potter was first up on Sport Nation's light-hearted investigation into cricket in Scotland and as well as being just on the right side of fluffy, it was informative.
John Blain, the former Scotland captain, recalled his country's first foray into an international tournament, in the 1999 World Cup. In their first game his side were up against an Australia team including Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in their pomp – and Blain described it as "magical".
He added: "We batted first, which was a gutsy thing to do up against an attack like that. I think we got 180 or 170, maybe a bit less." They actually made 181, lasting the full 50 overs for seven wickets – and Blain himself (right) was left standing unbeaten on three.
In between the pieces with former players and historians, the programme featured some interesting facts, such as that England played Scotland at cricket 33 years before they met on the football pitch, plus that the Bodyline captain, Doug Jardine, was actually Scottish.
That was the cue for David Currie to announce "enough with the history lesson" and hunt down some current players. And here is where it wobbled. He visited Stoneywood Dyce Cricket Club in Aberdeenshire ("an area with more cricketers per head of population than anywhere except Yorkshire and Barbados," according to club member Alan Barron) and spoke to Jan Stander, a player and former Scotland international.
Stander said: "It is definitely a strong area for cricket," before listing the 36 teams and the fact every village has a side. Which would have been fine had his accent not been more Durban than Dundee.
That aside, the club looked homely – and a veritable conveyor belt of internationals from a club whose outfield resembles a moor is a credit to their dedication.
In complete contrast was Currie's visit to Clydesdale Cricket Club, in the heart of Glasgow. There he remarked to Scotland international Majid Haq about the cosmopolitan nature of the participants. Haq concurred, adding in a thick Glaswegian brogue: "We are in the heart of the Asian community in Glasgow, it's a great culture here. There are a few white Scots boys too."
From Clydesdale there was a neat segue back to Blain, now speaking in his current role of coach. And he was passionate about getting more Scots into the sport – his philosophy centred on "10,000 hours – you have to put the work in".
By the end we had learnt that, thanks to the English, the game exists in Scotland and, thanks to the Scots, it is healthy.
The programme culminated in a one-day match against Pakistan and Haq was so livid at the 96-run loss that in his interview he was reduced to clichés about "small margins" and "pressure situations".
But his fury showed that he and the rest of the Scotland side do care about the sport – even though it is one that, in Currie's words, is "as English as warm beer, afternoon tea and Morris dancing".
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