Sitting in the sunshine on a balcony of the team hotel in Christchurch, Matt Machan is pretty pragmatic about top scoring for his nation in their opening match of the Cricket World Cup.
While his 56 off 79 balls is well short of his best for county and country, his role in steadying a Scotland side that had lost three of its top order to ducks was invaluable. A partnership of 97 with Richie Berrington ensured Scotland recovered, in some way, from a pretty miserable start to the tournament.
Despite falling to a three-wicket defeat against co-hosts New Zealand in that match, the 24-year old Sussex batsman drew praise for his shot-making in the face of a fiery, swinging quick attack from the Black Caps pacemen.
Machan says he just tried to focus on staying relaxed as the wickets of more senior team-mates tumbled.
“Obviously it’s not ideal being 12 for four in a one-day game and when I came in me and Richie just had to get a partnership together and try and get a score to some sort of respectable level,” he said yesterday.
“I just tried to be as relaxed as possible and just tried to play my own game but it was really tricky, it was really hard conditions to start your innings so I can take a lot of positives from that.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS
Machan says big-stage nerves may have played their part in the earliest stages of the game against the Black Caps but he believes those are now dealt with and he’s looking forward to their next Pool A opponent, England. “For everyone in the squad it was probably the biggest game they have ever played in and obviously it’s getting shown around the world so there’s added pressures but we’re glad the game is gone now and people know what to expect,” he said.
“We’re in a good place to rest and recover and get ready for the game against England next week.”
There will be some familiar faces for Machan when the teams come face to face on Sunday night at the Hagley Oval, amongst them Sussex team-mate Chris Jordan.
He has also played against a ‘fair few’ of them he says, as he honed his craft in the junior game down south. However, he remains tight-lipped on an analysis on their opponents.
“I think everyone has their weaknesses and their strengths, obviously these guys are the best in the world and they have got more strengths than weaknesses,” said Machan. “I know Chris Jordan pretty well having played county cricket with him for the last two years and I played junior age-grade stuff with a few of them as well.”
In the words of head coach Grant Bradburn, the Hagley Oval in Christchurch has been a ‘happy hunting ground’ for Scotland and it’s a place they remember well having seen off Kenya there last January to clinch qualification for the World Cup.
Machan is full of praise for an England side he says are easily among the world’s best but is keen to get going against a team whose form has perhaps been less than sparkling. “I’m excited, obviously, they’ve been an indifferent team over the last six months but they’re still one of the best sides in the world in my opinion,” he said.
“They’ve got quality batters and quality bowlers and I’m looking forward to it, apparently it’s already a sell-out so there should be a good crowd in and so yeah, excited.
“To take these top ten Test nations as close as possible is the goal and if we can turn any of them over then it would be brilliant.
“There’s a lot to work on but it will give us a lot of confidence, definitely.”