STUMPS will be pulled up for the last time this month on more than a century of tradition at one of Scotland’s leading independent schools.
Sports officials staff at Morrison’s Academy, in Crieff, in the Strathearn area of Perthshire, have announced that boys will no longer play cricket – because it is too complicated to learn and the early Scottish summers are now too damp for a decent wicket.
The decision was announced in a letter to parents at the 530-pupil co-educational day school, which counts actor Ewan McGregor and Olympic curling star Eve Muirhead among its former pupils.
Director of sport Scott Weston said the move followed a review of summer games at the school, which he joined last year from a teaching post at another top Scottish independent school, Glasgow Academy.
He said: “After much deliberation and consultation with colleagues both in school and beyond, I have taken the decision to stop playing cricket from the end of this session.
“The principal reasons behind this move are that the summer term is significantly shorter than when cricket was a major summer sport and there is therefore appreciably less time in which to learn and play the game.
For those of you who have not played cricket, the game is of a highly technical nature and it requires a great deal of time to be dedicated to its developmentScott Weston
“The need to prepare for public examinations, which in the case of senior members of the school now begin at the end of April, only three weeks into the term, means there is very little time to practise [sic] let alone play matches.
“Unfortunately local club cricket, which traditionally supported what we were doing, at school, has declined across Strathearn and, in the case of Crieff, ceased to exist all together.
“These problems are compounded by having to try to play cricket on early-season wickets which are typically soft and not conducive to a decent standard of the game.
“Finally, cricket takes a long time to learn and many who join the school at transitional primary 7 and above have no knowledge or experience of the game.
“For those of you who have not played cricket, the game is of a highly technical nature and it requires a great deal of time to be dedicated to its development, and over a number of years, to make the necessary improvements and gain a suitable understanding of the tactics involved.”
He added: “It is not lost on me that new forms of the game have an increasingly high profile internationally, but that doesn’t take account of the limitations of time and the challenges posed by the climate that the game faces locally here in Crieff and more generally across Scotland.”
Pupils at Morrison’s will in future concentrate on tennis, athletics and “outdoor pursuits” – canoeing, mountain biking and rock climbing activities and mountaineering in the summer, while boys will continue to play rugby in the winter and spring, and girls hockey.
The school said the new summer programme would allow pupils to “to develop their skills in more individual activities”, provide a more rounded exposure to sport, and “afford the opportunity to hone a broader range of skills, both physical and mental, while being less reliant on team mates for support”.
Morrison’s Academy opened in 1860, the fruit of a bequest from Thomas Morrison, who was born locally but died childless, after having made a fortune as the builder of a substantial part of Edinburgh’s New Town.
A Cricket Scotland spokesman said yesterday: “Obviously it is disappointing to hear when any club or school is struggling to continue the sport.” and as the governing body we are fully behind supporting all schools and clubs in helping them to continue to play and grow the game.”
“We have more people playing cricket than ever before, and whilst social and cultural changes have led to changes in some of the traditional formats of cricket there are a number of emerging modified formats, such as T20, Cage Cricket, Last Man Stands that are bringing new people in to cricket.
“Our community development team have been making big strides at getting cricket into the Scotland’s schools through new versions of the game and the recent development of our curriculum for excellence project.”