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Dropped Scones

Eight years ago, in the early days of The Flag, Jim Lynch caused a minor brouhaha by casting doubts on the popularity of cricket in Scotland – he was probably right from the point of view of spectators but as I pointed out at the time there are more cricket clubs in Aberdeenshire than there are in Yorkshire, England. That must be true as my Dominie at St Combs Primary School, who played for Huntly CC, told me so! He also taught me the rudiments of the game.

I was reminded of this on Monday as I settled down to listen to Scotland v England on Radio Scotland in the very first official cricket game between Scotland’s national team and England. Although there has been the occasional exhibition or friendly game it has taken 220 years before the first serious game, a one-day match at the Grange in Edinburgh, attended by First Minister Alex Salmond. Scotland regained the status to play one-day internationals (ODIs) in 2005. Fortunately or unfortunately the start was delayed due to rain until 12.30 pm enabling me to switch on in time for the start after a morning volunteer shift at New Bayview, home of East Fife FC. I almost wished immediately that I had missed it as Scotland put in to bat slumped to only 11 runs for three wickets. But a spirited fight-back from Gavin Hamilton (60 runs) and Colin Smith (36 runs) ensured that Scotland finished the revised 44 overs on 156 for 9. England responded with 10 runs off the first 15 balls as they chased the Scots total before rain once more stopped play and the game ended up as a no-result.

The full house at the Grange showed that there is an audience for the top games in Scotland. Hopefully rain will not ruin the next major ODI in Scotland next year when the Scots will face the power of Australia on 28 August 2009. Further good news emerged this week that Scotland will also take part in the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in England next year, following the formal withdrawal of Zimbabwe. They will face stiff opposition in the shape of South Africa and New Zealand in Group D.

Hopefully Scotland will find some top form batting in these matches, and preferably someone who can hit a century. On a historic note the first recorded cricket century to be scored in Scotland was made by the Hon Charles Lennox, way back on 9 October 1789. He scored 136 not out on that day. Cricket grounds were firmly established before the emergence of modern football. Indeed the first International football match played in the world – Scotland v England – took place at a cricket ground in Patrick, Glasgow. A crowd of 4,000 paid a 1/- a head to watch the 0-0 draw. Scottish writers such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and James M Barrie were keen cricketers and as you will see from this week’s History Dates ,108 years ago, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle bowled out the legendary W G Grace, one of England’s greatest ever batsmen.

With some 200 local clubs and over 25,000 people involved in the sport, cricket has a firm place in the traditional way of life in Scotland. In towns and villages, the length and breadth of the nation, resounds to the sound of ball on willow during the summer months. Week in and week out fielders will hope to avoid the dreaded dropped catch but this week’s recipe – Dropped Scones – should appeal to all cricketers when the stumps are drawn.

Dropped Scones

Ingredients: 4oz self raising flour; pinch of salt; 2oz caster sugar; 1 egg; milk to mix, approx 4 tablespoons

Method: Mix the flour, salt and sugar, add the egg and gradually beat in the milk to make a thick batter. Bake 2 or 3 at a time by dropping spoonfuls of the mixture on a hot, well-greased griddle. Butter and enjoy.

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