Howzat for an of­fer? Spot next to Gibbs up for auc­tion

The Herald - Herald Sport - - CRICKET - KEVIN FERRIE

FOR Scot­tish crick­eters, the chance to line up with the greats of the game is rare, but an auc­tion run by the in­no­va­tive Last Man Stands or­gan­i­sa­tion is giv­ing them a chance to buy a place along­side for­mer South Africa star Her­schelle Gibbs at Tit­wood next month.

One of the out­stand­ing play­ers of his gen­er­a­tion, he had a 12-year Test ca­reer and played in One Day In­ter­na­tion­als for a fur­ther two years af­ter that, earn­ing him­self a per­ma­nent place in the his­tory books when he be­came the first player to hit six sixes in an over in an in­ter­na­tional match dur­ing South Africa’s pool match against the Nether­lands.

A high-class bats­man who, mostly as an opener, was good enough to av­er­age close to 42 at Test level, he was also a spec­tac­u­larly ath­letic fielder who con­tin­ued to be an ex­plo­sive pres­ence in the T20 ver­sion of the game much sought af­ter by fran­chises all over the world for sev­eral years af­ter his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer ended.

As part of a tour of the UK in which he is pro­mot­ing the Last Man Stands (LMS) con­cept, he will lead a team largely com­pris­ing Scot­tish in­ter­na­tion­als, play­ing along­side cur­rent women’s skip­per Abbi Aitken and for­mer men’s team cap­tains Gor­don Drum­mond, Ryan Wat­son and Fraser Watts as well as their fel­low cap Ross Lyons in a match against Scot­tish cham­pi­ons Ful­ton’s Fly­ers on April 21. In keep­ing with the LMS ethos, Luke Hayes, the lead­ing bats­man in the Scot­tish game last is the seventh mem­ber of the team which will be com­pleted when the auc­tion win­ner is iden­ti­fied af­ter bid­ding closes this week.

“The win­ner will get a place in the game, a shirt signed by all those tak­ing part and a seat at the post-match din­ner which will fea­ture a Q&A with Her­schelle and is also prov­ing very pop­u­lar,” said Paul Red­dish, the Scot­tish or­gan­iser of LMS.

“We’ve had steadily in­creas­ing bids so far. It has risen from an ini­tial £100 to £425 and we seem to have put the lie to the no­tion of Scots be­ing stingy be­cause he is play­ing in two other matches, in Lon­don and in York­shire and so far the high­est bid is for the Scot­tish match.”

Work­ing on a pay-to-play model, LMS is be­com­ing some­thing of a global phe­nom­e­non within the sport, pro­vid­ing a highly ac­ces­si­ble al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional club model in aim­ing to max­imise the fun and min­imise the tra­di­tional pro­to­col which sur­rounds the sport but of­ten turn off young­sters and ca­sual play­ers, while of­fer­ing the chance to win prizes and earn world rank­ing points for both teams and in­di­vid­u­als.

Its eight-a-side matches last around two hours, with rules de­signed to place max­i­mum em­pha­sis on en­joy­ment, seek­ing to en­sure every player is fully in­volved and its po­ten­tial has been demon­strated by ex­po­nen­tial growth in Scot­land since its in­tro­duc­tion, with Red­dish mak­ing bold pre­dic­tions about the ex­tent to which that will con­tinue.

“In 2014 we only ran one league com­pe­ti­tion in Ed­in­burgh and had six teams play­ing,” he said.

“This year Ed­in­burgh will be split into North and South and there will be a to­tal of 22 teams, there will be five in the Glas­gow league, there will be eight in the East Loth­ian one, five in each of Dundee and Fife, four in West Loth­ian and there are dis­cus­sions on-go­ing about get­ting leagues started in both Stir­ling and In­ver­ness. My pre­dic­tion is that by 2020/21 we will have more sides reg­is­tered than Cricket Scot­land.”

A pas­sion­ate en­thu­si­ast who is also cur­rently a mem­ber of the Cricket Scot­land board, Red­dish be­lieves its ca­pac­ity to do so has al­ready been demon­strated by the im­pact that it has had on the do­mes­tic game as the gov­ern­ing body seeks to get more peo­ple in­volved in the sport.

“Par­tic­i­pa­tion lev­els at se­nior level in Scot­land grew last year, but if you take out the LMS fig­ures they fell,” he claimed.

There are cur­rently around 160 clubs in Scot­land and some tra­di­tion­al­ists have been typ­i­cally re­sis­tant to change, but within that con­text the ben­e­fits are ob­vi­ous for a sport that has strug­gled to widen its ap­peal due to a com­bi­na­tion of a slightly musty im­age and, per­haps more im­por­tantly, the ex­tent of the time com­mit­ment in­volved in play­ing club cricket.

Next month’s match is in­tended to show­case LMS at its very best and Ful­ton’s Fly­ers – a team mainly made up of play­ers from the host club Cly­des­dale – will be cap­tained by cur­rent Scot­land all-rounder Con de Langhe.

Pic­ture: Getty

UP IN THE AIR: South Africa hero Her­schelle Gibbs will play along­side Scot­tish in­ter­na­tion­als and who­ever bids high­est to be lead­ing bats­man at auc­tion.

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