Sandy Strang: Cricket’s cloud has silver lining
Scotland’s Lord’s. A purpose-built international arena and HQ for Scottish cricket. Improbable pipe dream or feasible reality?
The unprecedented deluge which recently engulfed the Grange, necessitating the deeply disappointing cancellation of next month’s glamour one-day international against England, could prove to be one cloud with a seriously silver lining. The saviour of our Scottish game, no less.
These sustained summer rains have concentrated the mind wonderfully. It’s taken the sad sight of some areas of the Grange submerged beneath five feet of water and a 40-metre section of the perimeter wall destroyed by the floods to underline that, notwithstanding much splendid support from clubs such as Grange, Aberdeenshire and, most recently, Uddingston, we are seriously lacking a venue and the accompanying infrastructure to host 21st century internationals.
Likewise, the indoor training centre at Mary Erskine School, for all its usefulness, is still a facility predicated on the needs of an educational institution, not a national cricket set-up.
Scotland now has a growing squad of centrally contracted players. Majid Haq, Matthew Parker, Gordon Goudie, Richie Berrington, Calum Macleod, and Preston Mommsen are all full-time cricketers paid by Cricket Scotland (CS), while keeper Craig Wallace, Safy Sharif and Ryan Flannigan are part-time pros. Yet there is no proper workplace for them to ply their daily trade. Arguably, even more than an improved on-field showing we need a custom-built facility for these homegrown pros as well as our age-group squads, such as the under-19s, shortly heading off to chase World Cup glory in Australia, and our women’s teams. A sports-injury clinic and the CS offices on-site would complete the template.
“Control” is the key word, maintains CS chief executive Roddy Smith.
“It’s fundamental to have a state-of-the-art facility which we’re in control of,” insists Smith. “One where we have control over its building from the outset, and can create the hard, concrete area around the outside to take the stands and the tents, irrespective of the weather. We can’t do much about rain on matchdays but grounds like the relatively new Durham CCC venue at Chester-le-Street would not have had to call off a game like this one [the England ODI] so early.”
The former Moray House PE College site at Cramond, in Edinburgh, has already been earmarked for a combined national centre for cricket and tennis or football. However, funding remains a problem, notwithstanding possible sizeable support from the ICC and sportscotland. Cricket Scotland will probably still have to raise about £2 million from sponsorship deals, debentures and loans.
“Losing the England game is a huge blow”, says Smith.
“Not just the chance for our players to go head-to-head against England, but the loss of a great Scottish cricket attraction which would have been watched live by several thousands, and by many more thousands on Sky TV.”
Don’t despair, Roddy. This meteorologically malign summer could be a godsend. It could be the crucial catalyst towards realising our own HQ. Cramond, here we come.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
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