Despite a small population of only 5.25 million, the skirt-wearing and heavily freckled angries who live north of Hadrian’s Wall have produced many great footballers, three of the best managers in the history of that sport, and some wonderful rugby players. Their contribution to cricket has been modest however.
With this in mind the cricketing sophists at TFT HQ have put together the following XI of Scotland’s greatest ever cricketers:
Mike Denness – Unusually for a Scotsman, Lanarkshire lad Mike Denness captained England on nineteen occasions, before being fatally undermined by Geoffrey Boycott (who sought the captaincy for himself).
After Denness was appointed captain, Sir Geoffrey threw a tantrum which even the most sour-faced of Scots, Alex Ferguson, would’ve been proud: he declared himself unavailable for selection and effectively left his teammates in the lurch. In the absence of its best player, England were, perhaps inevitably, hammered in the Ashes.
According to his autobiography, Boycott had “no confidence in Denness’s professional ability and no respect for him”. Talk about calling a spade a spade.
Being disliked by Sir Geoff is reason enough for selection for this Scottish XI, however Denness was also a stylish bat who averaged 39.69 in Test Cricket. That’s not bad actually.
Hamish Marshall – As discussed in a recent piece on New Zealand Kiwis are essentially a nation of Scottish immigrants with uneven tans. Hamish Marshall is a fine example, and makes this XI on the basis of his superb cover point fielding and magnificent christian name.
Marshall is yet to play for Scotland, but averaged a creditable 38.35 in 13 Tests for New Zealand. In an era where New Zealand have struggled for competent opening batsmen, it is a tragedy he has not played more.
Rahul Dravid – The greatest player ever to play for Scotland, McWall – as he is fondly known in the pubs and Haggis factories of Argyll – played 11 times for Scotland in 2003 scoring 600 runs at a devilishly good average of 66.66. His best score was 129 not out, against Nottinghamshire. Predictably, Scotland still lost the match.
Douglas Jardine (captain) – The man Australians still hate more than any other was born in India to Scottish parents: Malcolm Jardine and Alison Moir.
Malcolm was a cricketer himself, captaining his (Scottish) school side and topping the batting and bowling averages. Douglas Jardine was proud of his Scottish roots, giving his children the quintessentially Scottish names Fianach, Marion, Euan and Iona.
And of course, it should come as no surprise that the architect of Bodyline, a fiendish tactic based purely on violence, was conceived by a descended of Groundskeeper Willy.
Tony Greig – The recently departed Grieg, who seemed to become more Australian as each year passed, was born in South Africa to a Scottish father. Indeed, it was through this Scottish connection that he qualified to play for England.
Greig is the team’s all-rounder, and spin bowler. For your own amusement, try saying ‘hard and fast’ and ‘right off the meat of the bat’ in a thick Scotch accent.
Arthur Conan Doyle – While most famous as a writer, Edinburgh born Conan Doyle was a keen cricketer, playing 10 first-class matches between 1899 and 1907 for Marylebone Cricket Club.
According to his Wisden obituary he could “hit hard and bowl slows with a puzzling flight”. He managed to dismiss WG Grace once – a feat no other member of this side can match – and was therefore an automatic selection. Grace was Conan Doyle’s only first class wicket.
Gavin Hamilton – Perhaps, due to one fateful Test, Scotland’s most famous cricketer.
Hamilton was selected by Duncan Fletcher for the first test of England’s 99/00 tour of South Africa. He scored a pair, “took” 0-63 with the ball and failed to take a single catch. He was dropped for the second Test, never played again for England, and – perhaps cruelly- had to requalify to play for Scotland. This took 4 years.
His form in domestic cricket dropped off terribly after his brief Test career, and – having originally been a pace bowler and competent late order bat – towards the end of his career he was playing for Scotland as a specialist batsmen. Picture Hamilton as a Scottish version of James Franklin.
Dougie Brown – Another man to represent both England and Scotland, Brown managed to dismiss Brian Lara during England’s 1997 tour of the West Indies. A feat rarely achieved on that tour.
He was a bits and pieces cricketer useful with both bat and ball but great with neither. He has succeeded the man TFT loves to hate – Ashley Giles – as coach at Warwickshire. (Ed: We don’t hate Giles … it’s impossible to hate anyone who’s physically incapable of either scowling or saying anything in the least bit contentious … or interesting).
Andy Goram (wkt) Most famous for keeping goal for Rangers in the 1990s, English born Andy Goram represented Scotland four times at cricket between 1989 and 1991. He was a left-handed batsman and right-arm medium pace bowler.
Goram was once fined by his then club, Hibernian, for playing cricket against Australia. He was also a more-than-competent wicket-keeper, and it’s in this capacity that he makes this XI.
Dewald Nel – England are not the only nation who nick decent looking cricketers from South Africa. Johan Dewald Nel was one of Scotlands first three professional cricketers, and has now played 110 times for the fried mars bar lovers.
He had a short spell for my team – Worcestershire – where he performed rather well, taking 4-74 against Yorkshire. Nel is a right arm medium-fast bowler.
Angus Fraser – Scotland’s greatest ever bowler, ironically enough, wasn’t even Scottish. Despite the superbly Scottish sounding name (apologies for the excessive alliteration), Angus Robert Charles Fraser is as English as Queen Victoria (sic) or, indeed, the game of cricket.
Nonetheless, this XI is in need of his metronomic pace bowling, and he therefore makes the team on the basis of “a Scottish sounding name”. England selectors take note, you could have recruited Graeme Smith or Malcolm Marshall on this same basis!
Have I missed anyone?
Breaking news: Tarka infected with TFT’s love of telling a story despite the facts! Marshall was not an opener by trade, and when he was tried there he failed.
Statsguru suggests he averaged only 13.80 as a Test opener, and batted in this position in 4 matches.
I defer to your better knowledge of Kiwi cricket.
He formed a formidable opening partnership with Spearman at Gloucester which has perhaps coloured my memory.
Marshall is definely considered to be an opener over here. Particularly in limited overs cricket.
According to cricinfo, ex-Essex spinner Peter Such was born in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire. Not sure how much of his life he spent north of the border, but 11 Tests and 37 wickets makes him a decent candidate for your team.
A short session on google (and the below website) suggests Such’s “place of birth did lead to him seriously thinking about playing for Scotland in the World Cup”.
Mention of Such depresses me a little however. His selection represented a new low for English “spin” bowling, and came during an era of extreme Essex bias. Remember the selections of Childs, Stephenson, Irani and Illott?
I’ve got to stick up for Such! He might not have looked like an international sportsman but he was a canny bowler and won a test for England at Sydney. He’s currently in charge of England’s academy spinners and by all accounts is a very respected coach. Can’t argue with Illott, Irani etc though!