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