|And bowling from the Deep End is....|
Here is a picture of FB's own Carlton club's ground last Saturday. The club is now investigating how cricket can effectively be played on water-skis. Even in FB's extensive experience of rain, the last week has been exceptional.
At one time a touring team would have a couple of 2 or 3 day matches in Scotland at some point in their tour. Frequently these were exhibition matches as much as anything, but they were looked on by home supporters as festivals of the best in cricket. Seeing the local amateurs test themselves against the best in the world was always interesting. Things have moved on - the rhythm of touring teams is now different - no longer a 4 month trudge around every county ground, they are here today and gone faster than Akhtar can bowl as the media mandated treadmill of international cricket spirits them from one place to another. Maybe this isn't as great as it seems.
Scotland's matches against top sides are now in the ODI format and are essential experience for their development process. But quite simply they don't get enough games like this. The associates are never going to get close to beating the top sides unless they play them - the performance gap seemed to narrow for a couple of years but is widening again. Scotland manages one or two games a year at this level. Ireland has had a couple of games against Pakistan this year so is getting a bit more. But it is still crumbs at the table.
The weather may be in Scotland and Ireland's favour this week, but in the natural order of things they will do well to get close to Sri Lanka. Watching the ability of professinal sides to control a game is endlessly fascinating - how can the associates develop these advanced skills? Weather permitting it is Ireland who have first crack at them on Monday keen to build on their world cup successes and prove the ICC were right to revise their views on letting associates participate in 2015.
Of more interest is the tussle between Scotland and Ireland on Tuesday - recent years have seen the Irish dominate after a period of Scottish supremacy. Scotland are rebuilding, trying to find a blend of players that could take them to the next world cup. Ireland have an maturing squad and will also be looking to bring players forward for their next world cup campaign. Ireland are probably stronger on paper and will have learned a lot from their CWC 2011 campaign. Then the series will finish on Wednesay as Scotland roll the Sri Lankan's over in a 10 wicket victory.
FB will be there cheering the Scots on in both their tussles. He looks forward to seeing his his Carlton colleagues including skipper Gordon Drummond make their mark. They will do well if they remember FB's coaching tips to them. It seems to be working for Drummo who has been on fire with the bat with 3 tons in his last 3 innings. Everyone hopes that the weather does not have a hollow victory, but FB is looking out his Idiots' Guide to Duckworth Lewis just in case. Come on Scotland.
|Programme from Bradman's last game in Britain|
Will Sangakkara, Dilshan and Jayawardene be off to Balmoral later this week? Unlikely. Just one measure of how things have changed.
Come on Scotland.