Almanac Cricket: How do the minnows grow?

If you live in Scotland, you have to get accustomed to the weather being part of your daily travails.


It rains, it snows, it grips you in a teeth-chittering grip and doesn’t let go for months on end.


As Bob Hope once said: ” I love being in Scotland – with God’s frozen people.”


But the rest of the world doesn’t seem to be faring any better in 2016.

There are apocalyptic warnings of a superstorm creating chaos in America, which has sparked a state of emergency.


Flood and snow alerts remain in place across vast swathes of Europe.


And, as Scotland’s brave willow-wielders prepare to tackle Hong Kong in the ICC Intercontinental Cup, heavy rain has washed out the first three days of the contest and reduced the whole affair to a lottery.


The elements have intervened almost everywhere recently. You’re almost inclined to think that the former British PM, Alec Douglas-Home was on to something when he said: “God, if there is cricket in heaven, please also let there be rain.”


But while the Australians, for instance, can cope with the deluges which virtually wiped out the last Test against the West Indies earlier this month, the lack of action in Hong Kong points to a bigger problem with cricket’s supposed expansion.


For starters, you would be perfectly entitled to ask: This Intercontinental Cup – what is it good for?”


If there were any grounds for believing the ICC was truly convinced about admitting Scotland, Ireland, Afghanistan, The Netherlands and their Associate counterparts to a two-tier Test format, there would be ample reason to encourage these four-day contests.


But, as far as I’ve seen – and I’ve seen plenty – that simply isn’t the case. Nor, to be perfectly honest, are there any signs the developing countries will ever embrace the Test format.


This has led to the worst possible cul-de-sac of vulnerability: a scenario where several Scottish players have made it clear they see their futures in ODIs or T20 fixtures.


What do they do? Prepare for games such as the ongoing Hong Kong tussle with the mentality they might one day play Test cricket, even if it’s just against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh – and no disrespect to these sides!


Or should they focus on the wham-bam pyjama format which seems the only plausible future, considering how the ICC is now in thrall to Twenty20 and all its transient attractions?


Michael Holding has been one of the most sensible figures in promoting the idea that Tests should come first. Yet his voice seems to be whispering death as the broadcasters push for more manufactured entertainment.


It is a mess. And the whole basis of the Intercontinental Cup is being perpetuated on a house of cards.


  1. Neil Drysdale says

    Should the Associates even try to pursue Test ambitions? With the long-form game diminishing in popularity, wouldn’t it be more sensible to aim for a higher standard in ODIs and Twenty20?

  2. Test cricket for Associates ? I am not even sure why this is still being discussed. It is a non starter. With the best will in the world and a £66million winning lottery ticket we don’t have the talent pool to chose from and nor is there the critical mass of a genuine spectating public and I would suggest the latter is more important when this is being discussed in the ivory towers of the people with power.

    In Scotland we only play 50 and 20 over games so that is where our aspirations should be concentrated. Is a Scottish franchise T20 team more likely than a full blown test team. Yes absolutely and would be a genuine outlet for some of our creative players, ones not fortunate to head south.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    For Test cricket to remain relevant it absolutely needs to expand, and have a two tier format to ensure competitiveness.
    But the ICC don’t seem keen for this, with Ireland’s dominance of the second tier over the last 8 years getting no reward.

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