‘ Did you know that in 1882 Scot­land beat a for­mi­da­ble Aus­tralia side by seven wick­ets at the Grange?’

Scottish Field - - NEWS - Richard Bath, Editor

Did you know that more peo­ple play cricket per head of pop­u­la­tion in Scot­land than in Eng­land? Or that there are more cricket play­ers in Scot­land than rugby play­ers? Or that in 1882 a Scot­land side led by Scot­land’s an­swer to CB Fry, the leg­endary corinthian Les­lie Bal­four-Melville, beat Aus­tralia by seven wick­ets at the Grange? Not a lot of peo­ple know such things, so con­sider your­self ed­u­cated (even if you have no de­sire to be so). I’ve never been a crick­eter and gave the game up for­ever aged 14, declar­ing my­self tem­per­a­men­tally un­suited to a sport with a rigid dress code which seemed to in­volve an in­or­di­nate amount of time mak­ing daisy-chains.

No mat­ter that I liked to watch; play­ing

was a no-no. This sum­mer, how­ever, I’ve started some­thing of a late-life flir­ta­tion with the grand old game. Drafted in by a team of proud no-hop­ers to play on the beach at Elie I even took a cou­ple of wick­ets be­fore re­vert­ing to type and post­ing a duck en route to ab­ject, crush­ing de­feat. I fool­ishly played in a ‘fun’ game at

the Grange with proper play­ers and was hit into the Wa­ter of Leith for suc­ces­sive sixes (at which point the um­pire asked me to ‘bowl faster or wider be­cause we’re run­ning out of balls’). And, of course, I have been

glued to the live stuff – pri­mar­ily that An­glo-Aussie bun­fight called the Ashes, but I was also there in the flesh to see Scot­land put Kenya to the sword on a stun­ningly sunny July day in Stockbridg­e.

Cricket has now joined my list of oc­ca­sional ‘walk­ing sports’ that dodgy knees, pot belly, lack of co

or­di­na­tion or a slurp of wine can’t de­rail. Golf, fish­ing, shoot­ing, walk­ing, skiing, swimming, real ten­nis ... and now cricket. My teenage self would be hor­ri­fied but at least I’ve re­tained some dig­nity by with­stand­ing the siren cy­cling call of be­com­ing a MAMIL (Mid­dle Aged Man In Ly­cra).

Per­haps I’ll take up curl­ing next – at least you don’t need the sun for that one...

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