Sandy Strang: Daunting task for U19s against established talents
THEY travel in hope. And not a little trepidation. D-Day beckons for our under-19s as they make their final preparations before heading to Queensland for next month’s World Cup.
At the very least in this climatically cursed Scottish summer they’re sure to get some games. But, make no mistake, this is a big step up for our lads. The bar is very high. First they have to negotiate a tough group stage beginning with New Zealand on 12 August followed by Pakistan and Afghanistan. Should they progress, the Scots could be drawn against defending champions Australia, whom they will meet earlier on 8 August in a warm-up match at Trevor and Ben Lauchlin’s club, Wynnum-Manly.
This year’s Australian U19 squad boasts three fully fledged Sheffield Shield players. NSW’s Kurtis Patterson, who smashed 157 on his Shield debut, South Australia’s Travis Head and Western Warriors’ Cameron Bancroft. They are joined by Meyrick Buchanan, who featured for Melbourne Renegades in the inaugural Big Bash League. Then there’s left-arm spinning protégé Ashton Agar, only this week awarded his first full Warriors contract. Then there’s the West Indies U19s, captained by Barbados batsman Kraigg Brathwaite, already a fully fledged Test player with nine caps and four 50s. Serious quality. And it’s quality already proven in a ruthless adult arena, not merely the more protected arena of age-group cricket.
Still, our lads have good reason to be in excellent heart. Their qualification route began back in Belfast in July 2010 and the ICC U19 European Championships where they won every game en route to tournament victory. Next up was last summer’s ICC World Cup Qualifiers, also in Ireland, where, after the crushing disappointment of losing to Canada in the first game they won the next eight in a row to take top slot. It was an immense collective effort founded on a superbly strong work ethic and outstanding physical and psychological fitness.
‘Some of our younger players have made real progress to force their way into the squad,’ highlights U19 coach and CS Performance Manager Craig Wright, referring to the likes of Strathallan and Stirling County bat Nick Farrar and Uddingston seamer Gavin Main. But the pragmatic reality is that Scotland’s hopes of progression in Australia ultimately hinge on three senior players, “veterans” at this level, and all currently plying their cricketing trade in England on the MCC Universities circuit.
Double Cambridge Blue, Watsonians seamer, and U19 captain Paddy Sadler bowled 30 decent overs in the recent Varsity Match at The Parks and has been taking wickets regularly for Cambridge MCCU. Vice-captain Matthew Cross, ex-Aberdeenshire keeper-bat highly rated by ex-Saltires keeping legend Colin Smith, has scored more than 700 runs this summer for Loughborough MCCU, including eight 50s, and did well with the bat in a few outings for Notts Seconds in 2011. Then there’s batsman Freddie Coleman, who has had a mixed season so far. Appearances for Warwickshire 2nd XI have yielded few runs, although he did recently hit an undefeated 74 in a T20 tussle with Gloucester at Bristol. He also received the prestigious Walter Lawrence MCCU Award for 2012 for smashing 141 against Durham back in April. The former Strathallan and Penicuik batsman also featured in the Saltires’ recent rain-curtailed CB40 match against Surrey at The Oval. If Scotland are to flourish in Oz, Coleman will have to post some big scores.
At the least the campaign should be a useful learning experience for the likes of Andrew Umeed (West of Scotland), Aman Bailwal (Forfarshire) and Scott McElnea (Ayr), who have already graduated to the Scotland Lions.
Farewell to enigmatic, elegant Ramps
Alas, it is farewell Ramps. Surrey’s Mark Ramprakash has all too suddenly hung up his bat.
And it’s a sad day for all those cricket fans who like their batting elegant, stylish, sublimely technically accomplished – and run replete.
The stats are utterly staggering: 1,000 or more First Class runs for a season on 20 occasions; beyond 2,000 three times; 114 centuries; a 2006 Championship average for Surrey of 105.28; a final First Class average of 53.17.
Yet doubts remain. An average of 27 over 52 Tests may be the stuff of mere artisans rather than the exquisite artiste Ramprakash unequivocally was. Yet, in his 12 Tests against Australia when McGrath and Warne reigned supreme, he averaged 42, and one of his two Test tons was that imperious 133 against the all-conquering Aussies at The Oval in 2001. Rampers was also the scourge of the Scots. A brilliant undefeated 101 at Raeburn Place in the C&G Trophy in May 2002 lingers in the memory, although Saltires skipper Craig Wright extracted his revenge three years later, also at The Grange, when he had his Surrey skipper counterpart trapped lbw for a rare duck.
Intense, deeply driven, enigmatic he may have been. An underachiever at Test level
perhaps too. But he was a sheer joy to watch. Thanks for the memories, Ramps.
Scots need sun to shine on cup hopes
The 2015 World Cup may seem a long way away. But the current rains are already casting a very long shadow. Scotland’s Intercontinental Cup Final aspirations were submerged in the Bothwell floods when not a single ball was possible in last week’s Canadian four-dayer. Even worse was the loss of the first of this week’s two Pepsi World Cricket League ODIs against Canada,
already switched from engulfed Grange to Ayr’s less meteorologically challenged New Cambusdoon.
The Canadians, a shadow of the team which created a 2003 World Cup shock by beating Test nation Bangladesh, are indisputably the current Associate whipping boys, languishing at the foot of the WCL, having lost five of their first six matches. Notwithstanding the recent recruitment of ex-Windies star Gus Logie as coach, Canada are surely there for the taking.
The Scots desperately need to play and win today’s second ODI – there’s a reserve day
option tomorrow – to improve on their current third placing behind Ireland and the UAE.
Only a top-two finish guarantees joining the ICC’s ten Full Members in the 2015 tournament – even if a further chance does arise for the bottom six teams at the ICC World Cup qualifiers in early 2014.
Some sunshine in Ayr right now would be a welcome bonus.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West