At around the same time as England supporters were stoically enduring their team’s stubborn refusal to chase a not-out-of-the-question declaration target against New Zealand at Lord’s in the first Test, Scottish cricket watchers, 400 miles away in Fife, were making it clear that they would not put up with that sort of nonsense.
After an absence of 21 months, as in London NW8, spectators were allowed back to watch their first cricket since lockdown – on the beach.
The Ship Inn, in Elie, is the only cricket team in Britain to play its matches on a wide expanse of sand – and what’s more it’s got no distracting seven-metre slope from deep cover to deep cover, making the light roller usually sufficient for any small marks that are caused by indentations of the rubber ball – or the odd tiny crab left by the retreating tide.
Graham Bucknall is the owner of the Ship Inn and team captain – he probably opens the batting and bowling as well – and he attested to the crowd’s impatience as the game against Kilmacolm, from about 90 miles away in Renfrewshire, got under way.
“When the first ball was bowled and our player played a defensive shot there was a cry of ‘it’s not a Test match’ and it was a perfect example of the banter and camaraderie that we’ve all been missing,” he told the Dundee Evening Telegraph.
“You can’t play cricket on a Zoom call or on your own so it was lovely to be back.
“In the past we’ve crammed people into the beer garden but now we can’t do that we’re blessed with a large beach so people can still enjoy an afternoon’s cricket and have enough room to feel safe.”
The Ship notched up a convincing victory, on a pitch accepting spin and seam and, having swept to 198 in their 30 overs, they bowled their opponents out for just shy of half their total – with Bucknall scoring 51 not out himself.
The skipper added: “Just being back, seeing people sat enjoying an ice cream or lazing in a deck chair on the beach was magical after so long.
“It’s wonderful to be back and we have 12 matches scheduled this summer, including our annual visit from the MCC on July 4.”
The last time that the Ship played them, in August 2019, the crowd numbered around 500.
It is understood that despite there being no Test match in the UK on that day, Dominic Sibley will not be part of the team despatched from the home of cricket.