If you love the game and have children of your own, then you’ll know that most cricket-mad parents hope and pray that one of their broods will share their passion some day down the line. One sure-fire way to guarantee a new generation of fans is to recruit members of your country’s national team, just two days before an international game with their most infamous historic rivals, so Aberdeenshire parents must be over the moon following a recent ‘come and try’ session.
A Hero’s Welcome
Cricket Scotland’s development manager Neil Cameron managed to pull off the impossible; just one day before their international against England on Friday, he persuaded five members of Scotland’s cricket team to take part in a ‘come and try’ session.
As the team’s minibus pulled up at Harlaw Playing Fields in Aberdeen, the heavy rain stopped. The clouds parted to reveal a sun-bathed pitch with over one hundred excited children rushing towards their heroes: Scottish stars Moneeb Iqbal, Gordon Goudie, Michael Leask, Richie Berrington and Craig Wallace.
The 8- and 9-year olds from Ashley Road and St Joseph’s Primary Schools threw themselves into the session with unbridled enthusiasm and a healthy dose of gusto, happily lapping up lessons in throwing and catching, batting routines and even executing the perfect celebratory cartwheel.
A New Legion of Fans
Neil Cameron said: “We invited schools to come here and try some cricket-related skills, have a bit of fun, and introduce them to a game that they’re not familiar with. The whole point of today is a preamble to the big event on Friday – Scotland v England. We just want to generate as much enthusiasm, as much knowledge [as we can], and raise the profile of the game in Aberdeen. The fact that we’ve got guys playing on Friday who are involved today is fantastic.”
The event certainly seemed to have the desired impact on the children involved. Eight-year-old Kirsty Hogg said “I’ve enjoyed today because I never knew about cricket, but now I really enjoy it.”
Ambitious nine-year-old Joe Millar added: “I do feel like I just want to play cricket again, and I want to play for Scotland or England or any of the major teams.”
Looking to the Future
Michael Leask, who played in Scotland’s successful 2015 Cricket World Cup qualifying tournament and was one of the players who helped out, said: “It’s something I’ve done from a very young age and to see these guys have such enthusiasm for it gives you a little bit more encouragement to carry on. To know you’re inspiring kids to do it as well is a bonus for me.”
Richie Berrington, who was also present, believes that Scotland’s involvement in next year’s World Cup, and Grant Bradburn’s appointment as national coach
, mean that it’s the perfect time to invest in the future of the sport by attracting a new generation of fans and players. “We’ve got a big 12 months leading up to that [World Cup]. We’ve also just got a new coach, and I think the game is definitely starting to grow in Scotland. There’s a lot more kids getting involved. Obviously the more exposure we can have at the highest level is going to help bring more people into the game.”
Aberdeenshire has a history of high-levels of participation in the sport, and events like this will undoubtedly help those trends to continue. The city has yielded an impressive crop of international cricketers over the years, and perhaps its future stars were among those attending this week’s ‘come and try session. At the very least, the squad found themselves 100 new fans. Arm them with the right equipment
, and we’re sure that they’ll one day take the cricketing world by storm.