SCOTLAND’s hopes of a first-ever win against England may have been dashed in a 39-run defeat at soggy Mannofield but the underdogs – and Michael Leask in particular – emerged with credit.
Chasing a revised target of 173, the Scots lost three early wickets before local boy Leask briefly gave the English a fright. His innings of 42 runs from only 16 deliveries was enough to earn the man-of-the-match award and earn the plaudits of visiting skipper Alastair Cook who said: “He was really
“Only him and Belly [Ian Bell] timed the ball in that wicket. When he hit the ball it stayed hit and if he’d gone on and got 80-odd he might have won it for them.”
Leask rattled the English bowlers with five mighty maximums, the biggest of which glanced the pavilion roof on its way out of the ground.
He had fleetingly raised hopes of the upset Scotland craved but his departure sparked a collapse as the home batsmen continued to hit out in a lost cause and the home side eventually closed on 133 for nine to lose by 39 runs.
Earlier England, sent in to bat after Kyle Coetzer had won the toss, made a bright start as if intent on making up for lost time.
Bell was somewhat fortuitous to get off the mark with a streaky edged four off Iain Wardlaw but the Warwickshire batsman went on to dominate a sparkling opening stand with Cook.
Indeed, the latter led a somewhat charmed life, miscuing two consecutive deliveries from Josh Davey that fell just short of Scottish fielders, prompting cheers from the travelling Barmy Army and jeers from the Tartan one.
The England captain, though, did manage a couple of boundaries off Wardlaw as the board ticked over rather too rapidly for Scotland’s liking.
Bell accelerated the rate further with a beautifully lofted drive which came to rest in a marquee at long-off for the first six of the innings and added to bowler Majid Haq’s frustration by reverse-sweeping the next delivery for four.
A sweetly-timed extra cover drive off Rob Taylor was yet another classy shot from Bell who by now had raced ahead of his captain.
Nor had the Warwickshire man finished dishing out the punishment as Taylor found to his cost when another six over long-on took the England opener to within two runs of a half-century.
As further heavy rain returned, the landmark was duly reached off the next delivery before Taylor immediately had his revenge as Bell took one liberty too many and lost his leg-stump.
Irishman Eoin Morgan announced his arrival with a crisp drive to the long-on boundary before the umpires were finally forced to take the players from the field, prompting fears that that would be the end of things after just
However, the interruption was mercifully brief and, on the resumption, Taylor claimed a further notable scalp in the shape of the England skipper, though the bowler would be the first to admit his wicket owed much to the athleticism of Calum MacLeod who took a spectacular diving catch at long-off.
Cook had made 44 from three deliveries more with four boundaries.
Runs continued to flow as the Scottish bowlers struggled to control the damp ball but they stuck to their task and another spectacular catch, this time by Taylor, helped Davey bring Joss
Buttler’s fledgling innings to an end.
England’s total was always going to prove a testing one for the Scots despite Leask’s heroics. The Aberdonian said: “I was told to hit the ball straight today and that’s what I tried to do.
“It was a fantastic opportunity facing a side like England and hopefully I can kick on from an innings like this and
cement my place in the team.”
Scotland captain Coetzer said: “We gave it everything we had but it wasn’t to be on the day. I have to credit the groundstaff for getting the game on and both teams for giving it a go.”
Earlier it looked as if the Aberdeen weather would prevent any play at all as the Granite City awoke to a grey
morning of unremitting rain.
It was quickly apparent that a prompt start at 10.30am would be out of the question and as the hours ticked by there were genuine fears that no play would be possible.
It was not, however, for the want of trying as the groundstaff busied themselves in an attempt to limit the
Indeed, Ken McCurdie, the hard-working head groundsman at
Mannofield put his body on the line for the cause, dislocating an elbow while pulling a super sopper.
Undaunted, McCurdie returned wearing a sling and directed operations as the skies lifted and the prospects of play improved.
Cook said that conditions were the worst he had ever played in but echoed Coetzer’s praise of McCurdie and his team, saying: “It was the wettest I have ever played in but the groundstaff worked incredibly hard.”
A Cook c MacLeod b Taylor 44
I Bell b Taylor 50
E Morgan c Cross b Wardlaw 31
J Buttler c Taylor b Davey 9
R Bopara c MacLeod b Davey 3
J Root c Taylor b Davey 17
G Ballance not out 1
C Jordan not out 6
Extras (b1 w4 nb1) 6
Total (for six, 20 overs) 167
Fall: 1-83 2-113 3-136 4-140 5-160 6-160
Bowling: Wardlaw 4-0-37-1; Evans 4-0-33-0;
Davey 4-0-28-3; Haq 3-0-26-0
M Cross b Anderson 1
C MacLeod b Anderson 9
M Machan c Bell b Bopara 33
K Coetzer b Tredwell 8
M A Leask c Anderson b Tredwell 42
P L Mommsen b Jordan 9
R M L Taylor c Jordan b Tredwell 1
J H Davey c Gurney b Tredwell 0
R M Haq not out 18
I Wardlaw c Jordan b Bopara 2
A C Evans not out 9
Extras (w1 pens 0) 1
Total 9 wkts (20 overs) 133
Fall: 1-7 2-18 3-46 4-70
Bowling: Anderson 4-0-22-2; Gurney 4-0-20-0; Jordan 4-0-24-1; Tredwell 4-0-40-4;
England won by 39 runs (D/L method)