Say hello, wave goodbye…

It’s squeaky bum time!  Saturday saw us go into action at Inverleith in a Royal High derby, 3rd XI style.  Penultimate game of the season, and perhaps we had our eyes on the game with Edinburgh next week, which will be a promotion decider, because it very nearly wasn’t.

The Smellies had augmented their side with a number of 2nd team regulars, as they are in the relegation zone, so that coupled with the artificial track made wicket shard to come by, only Gus getting any consistency and finishing up with 3fer.  A Mooro run out (Freddie Flintoff must have been watching) and a consolation wicket for Fraggle saw Stew Mel post 164 for 5 off their 45 overs.

We set off in pursuit of the target, confident, well fed and backed by a large contingent of 1st and 2nd team players whose games had both fallen victim to the wet weather.  Our confident mood didn’t last long.  Hoffy paddled the first ball of the innings to square leg for a diamond duck, Adam was intimidated by bounce, then cleaned up by a full one, and Gus played all around a straight one to leave us 15 for 3.  Skippy and JK righted the ship, taking us up to drinks with the score on 78.  96 wanted, 23 overs and 7 wickets in hand, a breeze.  That reckoned without JK slapping one to mid on, Will nicking to the keeper first up and then Fraggle doing something inexplicable leaving the innings in tatters at 86 for 6.  Mooro strode to the crease and proceeded to bat as only he can, or at least try to.  Nothing was coming from the middle of the bat and he led a charmed life before eventually holing out.  He and Skippy had moved the score to 136 for 7.  Still 29 wanted.  Disaster struck seven runs later when Skippy holed out.  Cue manic celebrations in the field.  These were cranked up a notch, as Tricky didn’t last long.  Enter Chappers, old man of the team, a genuine number 11 bat and a walking wicket in waiting.  15 runs wanted, last man at the crease 20 balls remaining.  He watched the last two balls of the over safely past off stick.  15 off 18.  Frase slapped a single off the first ball of the next over, a decision not roundly welcomed by the fans on the boundary.  14 off 17.  Became 14 off 16, then off 15 as Chappers declined to play at a couple off the sticks.  Groans from the keeper as a late block was played back to the bowler, and the over was seen off, with only a wide added to the score.  It was now 13 off 12 balls, but SM had a problem.  Their key bowlers were finished, who to bring on?  A fresh bowler was summoned, it appeared by default, as he happened to have the ball in his hand.  Frase on strike drove the first ball to mid on, four!  9 off 11.  Second ball, slapped back straighter than the first, four more.  The Corrie Massive on the sidelines going crazy, it’s now 5 off 10.  A dot, then a slap into the onside for two, made it 3 off 8.  Another dot and another shot for two, left Chappers on strike, scores tied.  First ball is middled, straight to mid on, no run.  Second ball was left outside the sticks.  Third ball, played to midwicket, Wait! Was the call, the ball eludes the fielder, Yes!  Run taken, game won, relief all round, despair for the Melville boys.  In almost identical fashion to the season opener, we’d battled to another win.  Now all we need is fair weather, a ground and a win over Edinburgh next week to go up.  Who needs The Ashes??

The first XI head to Dumfries next weekend, knowing a win will secure them a place in the promotion playoff.  Like the 3s game with Edinburgh, it’s essentially a cup final as a Dumfries win would see them leapfrog us into 2nd spot and the playoff.  It’s almost a mirror of last season when the 1s went to Dunfermline, only for the weather to intervene.  The sight of the away team working like Trojans to get the ground playable, whilst the home team relaxed in the knowledge that a cancellation kept them in a playoff spot was both surreal and frustrating.  It won’t be the away team doing the work this time if it’s needed.  A cancellation suits us!

—————————————–

What a hornet’s nest that Kenny McCaskill kicked up last week.  Who’d have thought the release of the one man convicted of planting a bomb on a plane would be so controversial?

From a personal point of view, I grew up not too far from Lockerbie, have spent some time their in my youth and can remember vividly where I was and what I was doing the night the “Emmerdale” script writers got a “great” idea for a storyline.

The fact that he was the only person ever convicted was to me, “bit rum”.  The media and the movies etc would love to have us all believe the world is full of these loner rogue agents acting on their own, able to do all sorts of amazing, dastardly deeds.  The truth is a bit more prosaic.  He wasn’t on his own; he’ll have had help and assistance from somewhere, from someone.  Suppressed evidence, dodgy dossiers and testimony from shady individuals all combine to leave one with the feeling that this was a stitch up.  It’s not uncommon for individuals to profess their innocence in prison, but in this case, whilst I concede he may not have been completely innocent, I doubt he was the only guilty party.

The outrage from America, particularly from the politicians stems I feel in part, from the fact that they are implicit in covering up some of what went on in 1988 and subsequently.  America wanted “justice”; they wanted someone to pay the price, a sacrificial lamb.  They’ve since made sure that the ‘American People’ have been fed the lie often enough that they believe it.  America is the bully on the corner, extremely happy when he gets what he wants, but stand up to him and he’ll shout and yell and complain, deep down knowing you’re right.

The Libyan’s have scored.  They’ve been able to score points from everyone by playing this up for all it’s worth, the diplomatic equivalent of lighting the firework, the retiring to safety whilst the other two sides try to get away before it goes off.

Perhaps the most troubling, and yet least surprising aspect in all of this is the public display of ignorance from England as to just how different Scotland is to England.  For years it seems, most English people have seen Scotland as little more than an extension of their own country, governed from Westminster, served by the same media etc.  We’ve had a devolved government for 10 years now, which has been seen to give some definition as to the differences, but still there’s a sense that it’s just because we see ourselves as special, we somehow have ideas above our station that rankles within England.

Unlike Wales, Scotland did not give up its legal system when unified with England; Scotland has always had a different education system too.  We have much more rural space than is the case down south (with the exception of the Central Belt).  The feeling and atmosphere of small town and village England is much different to that of Scotland, perhaps because the majority of our industrial areas like ship building, even coal mining, were concentrated so close to our major cities, there’s much less of the ghost town pit village mentality you find in swathes of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.

There are also differences in the way the outlook of the two countries is affected by religion, and maybe this is at the heart of the way this release decision is perceived.  Many commentators feel the furor over this may set back the SNP and it’s chase for Scottish independence.  I have no axe to grind there; if it comes it comes, if it doesn’t so be it.  I wonder how Scotland will fare, going it alone.  This incident may just help crystallise peoples thinking.  We’ve made a major world splash; we’ve shown ourselves to be a decent, ethical, up standing country.  One that wont wilt, even under the hard stare of US muscle flexing.  We’ve also underlined the differences between the English and the Scottish outlook.  No, this may actually be the watershed moment that serves to show Scots we can perhaps govern ourselves sensibly, and also one that shows those in England that Scotland is different to England in more ways than just a penchant for wearing ‘skirts’ and talking funny.

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