CRICKET SCOTLAND’S new eastern participation manager wants to turn around the governing body’s reputation in the Borders.
Ex-New Zealand under-19s cricketer Ian Sandbrook was appointed this month to the newly-created role, which covers not only the Borders, but also East and West Lothian, Edinburgh and even Fife.
He will take on some of the remit held by Neil Cameron, after funding for his development manager post was controversially ended last year by Cricket Scotland and Borders Sport and Leisure Trust.
But with a Borders-dedicated community coach, part-funded by both organisations, soon to be appointed for this year, Ian insists the area’s clubs have not been forgotten.
He told TheSouthern: “I know there is a perception here that Cricket Scotland sits in Edinburgh and does nothing.
“They are aware of that, so part of my remit is to get down here and break that image down to show we are making attempts to grow the game in the Borders.
“It is a new role and I have a large area to cover. But a big part of the job is to work in the Borders and other areas outside of the city. Edinburgh already has some really strong clubs and probably a lot of saturation in terms of cricket.
“The community coach will do a lot of the hands-on coaching, going into schools and working with clubs.
“I will be managing the coach’s role, as well as going into clubs and running courses.
“I hope to get down here regularly and be visible and accessible.”
Sandbrook’s on-field sporting CV is impressive.
From Palmerston North, a town near Wellington with a population of 85,000, the batsman featured for the Kiwis in the Under-19 World Cup in 2002, but never made the step-up to the senior team.
Among those to come through the system alongside Sandbrook was New Zealand internationalist Ross Taylor, while he attended school with former Celtic striker Chris Killen.
He went on to sign with YoungHeart Manawatu, a semi-professional side in New Zealand’s top league, but work commitments meant he had to end his career in 2008.
Off the field, he spent six years as cricket development manager with Manawatu Cricket Association, where he had a reputation for his hard work.
He moved to the UK in March last year with girlfriend Fran to play as a pro with Stony Stratford in Northamptonshire, before his Cricket Scotland appointment this year.
His immediate aim is to get more youngsters playing the game, and he says he is up for the challenge.
Sandbrook told us: “I know the money was pulled out for a development post down here and there has been a little bit of toing and froing going on.
“We really want to get the juniors set up right and get the clubs to support us. The onus is on us. We have to make sure the experience that kids have is enjoyable so they want to come back to cricket.
“From football and rugby to skateboarding – the choices are limitless to kids these days.
“It is a battlefield out there to get them, and I see it as a challenge.”
Stevie Halls, chairman of the Scottish Borders Junior Cricket Development Group, said: “Ian has a lot of experience and ideas and is a very positive guy.
“My fear was, with such an overarching position, we would not see much of him, but he is very keen to get involved in the Borders.”