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 years 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.
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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 announced.
“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.
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 fun, seeking to ensure that 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. 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 Five, four in West Lothian and there are discussions on-going about getting leagues started in both Stirling and Inverness,” he said.
“My prediction is that by 2020/21 we will have more sides registered than Cricket Scotland.”