Smith backs twenty-20 bid but clubs are left lukewarm

CRICKET SCOTLAND chief executive Roddy Smith today insisted twenty:20 festivals such as the one planned for Edinburgh premiership clubs at Goldenacre tomorrow have a big part to play in the game's future.

"The national side are heading across to Namibia at the end of this season and the plan is to add five matches in the twenty:20 format on to a schedule that includes a (four day) Inter-Continental Cup match and one-day internationals.

"We are going to be playing more and more and with the possibility of qualifying for two twenty:20 world cups in the next four years they would be important to us," said Smith.

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However, Edinburgh clubs appear less than enthusiastic about a festival that will be mirrored around the country with other groupings of four teams - so much so that it is anticipated a combined Carlton, Watsonians and Grange will face hosts Heriot's whose captain, Steve Knox said: "While giving over this Saturday to twenty:20 we have to finish the season with back-to-back games on a Saturday and Sunday which isn't ideal. The context of the festival with no prize money or no apparent bigger picture appears baffling, a bit strange.

"If the twenty:20 had been part of an on-going series of matches on, say, Friday nights the way the indoor tournament is conducted in the winter (at the National Cricket Academy) I could have more easily understood."

Sanjay Patel, captain of Grange, concurred with many of these views, saying: "There doesn't seem any point to it and a lot of our guys have decided this is the time to take a break.

"Also, clubs don't want to pull players out of their 2nds or 3rds and move them up."

Steve Gilmour, Carlton's coach, added: "We made the decision not to weaken our lower teams including a 3rd XI going for back-to-back promotions in the East League by withdrawing players for the festival.

"The lack of importance attached to the event was brought home by a message from Cricket Scotland that we were not required to notify any results."

Smith, though, is convinced the event can be worthwhile. "It'll be very disappointing if the festival doesn't go ahead as planned. We need more twenty:20. This idea came about as a result of the new league structure and playing 15 matches followed by two knock out games created a gap which allowed us to introduce a twenty:20 day," he said.

In arguing that while knock- out cup matches with 20-over innings had been around for a while it was time to add something different, Smith also made the point that top players can't get enough experience of differing conditions.

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Heriot's versus an Edinburgh Select picked by the club presidents will start at 2pm.

n LAST night's Murgitroyd Masterton KO semi-final between Grange and Heriot's was washed out and will be replayed on June 30. Watsonians entertain Carlton on July 5 in the other semi with the final set for Friday, July 15 at Grange Loan.

"The context of the festival with no prize money or no apparent bigger picture appears baffling" steve knox

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