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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 July, 2003, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Cash aid for Scottish cricket
Rahul Dravid and Craig Wright help announce the new deal
Scottish cricket was given a welcome financial boost with a new three-year sponsorship deal from Lloyds TSB Scotland, which will net the sport 300,000.

The deal will cover the Scottish national side, Scottish Saltires, who are enjoying their first season in the National League Division Two, and the women's and youth's game.

The Saltires, who have surprised many by winning three of their 11 matches in the NCL2, agreed a 25,000 shirt sponsorship deal in May.

And a consortium of businessmen have collaborated to fund the package for Indian star batsman Rahul Dravid to play for the Scots this season.

The new money will help the part-timers in their bid to compete with their professional opponents and help Scotland on the road to playing one-day internationals.

"We're a small country and, although we have some 10,000 people playing cricket, there is only a small base playing at the level we need to select from," Gwynne Jones, chief executive of Scottish Cricket told BBC Scotland.

"We need to put in place new structures, so we have real competition for national places."

Scotland were disappointed not to reach the last World Cup and are pinning their hopes on reaching the 2007 event in the Caribbean.

"The ICC have 84 countries playing cricket and right now we're ranked 15, which is just outside World Cup qualifying," Jones continued.

"14 teams will play at the next World Cup and qualifying is in 2005, so we have to get there."

Saltires skipper Craig Wright, added: " I would hope that this new financial support will accelerate the opportunity for us to professionalise the squad in order that we can be as competitive as possible."

Scotland's women cricketers go to Holland on World Cup qualifying next week and team-member Linda Spence hopes more youngsters can follow in her footsteps.

"Girls are playing in mixed teams at school up until the age of 13 or 14 then it all falls apart," Spence said.

"Hopefully, we can devote more resources towards developing women's cricket in schools and clubs and raise the profile of the game."

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