Scots demolished by England at the Grange
ON A BENIGN wicket in glorious sunshine and with the biggest crowd of the year at the Grange, Scotland took the field with high hopes. They left it shattered by an onslaught of ferocious batting, which at one stage saw the visitors scoring at the phenomenal rate of almost ten an over.
• England's Kevin Pieterson in action at the Grange yesterday
A match that had seemed nicely poised when Scotland finished their innings on a modest but defendable 211 all out quickly morphed into a non-contest that saw the visitors stroll to a seven-wicket victory with 17 overs remaining.
Gavin Hamilton, who revealed after the match that he has stepped down as Scotland skipper in favour of Gordon Drummond, said that as they prepare to meet the Australians this England side "have completely stepped up a gear – I'm full of praise for their intensity and the tempo at which they play the game."
England's focus was particularly apparent in the way they batted. Both skipper Andrew Strauss and the naturalised South African Craig Kieswetter have a point to prove, and it was youngsters Matthew Parker and Ross Lyons who bore the brunt of their determination to cement their place in an England side that looks to be on the cusp of a rare golden period. The two Englishmen (although both were born outside of England, as were four more of their teammates and all three of England's coaches) tore into Parker, in particular, with some virtuoso stroke-making. Strauss handed out some terrible punishment to the tall blond student, at one stage hitting four fours in one over. By the time he was caught by Neil McCallum off the bowling of Majid Haq, who was the pick of the Scottish bowlers, for 61, he had put England into an unassailable position at 121 for 1 after just 13 overs.
Kieswetter's Edinburgh-born mother wasn't at the Grange but his grandparents were there to watch him. He succumbed at 69, caught by Kyle Coetzer off the bowling of Lyons, and was followed in the next over by Kevin Pietersen, who was dismissed by a Ryan Watson catch off Haq's bowling for just 17. Yet by that stage, with little more than 50 runs needed to overhaul their hosts and seven wickets and almost 30 overs left, England's intensity had understandably begun to wane.
However, if the run rate diminished markedly and the number of boundaries plummeted, there was no question about whether or not England would make the winning total of 212 with plenty to spare. There was no more of the flaying of home bowlers which Parker and Lyons had to endure, but Eoin Morgan with 24 runs and Paul Collingwood with 38 progressed relentlessly towards the total, reaching the total with almost 18 overs remaining, Morgan rounding off the rout with a pulled four through the on-side fielders.
It was an almost cruel denouement for a Scotland side that, five years ago, would have seen a total of 170-180 against an English county as a respectable mark. These are changed days though, and their target was to reach 250 and make England sweat. At one stage it looked as if they might do so, with Scotland trundling along at a decent rate on the way towards three figures, actually breaking the hundred mark in the 24th of their 50 overs for the loss of just two wickets. That was all the more commendable given that their innings started inauspiciously when opener Ryan Watson threw his wicket away before those of us in the cheap seats had time to uncork our flasks of coffee. He was still scoreless when he prodded tamely at an inviting Jimmy Anderson ball outside of his off-stump and Graeme Swann took the easiest of catches at second slip.
It was exactly what Scotland didn't want, yet skipper Gavin Hamilton and the Aberdonian Kyle Coetzer steadied the ship, with an 85-run partnership. If Hamilton played with elan and intelligence, Coetzer's innings was marked by an aggressive approach that saw the Scot reach his 50 off just 59 balls after battering an impressive eight fours. Ironically, it wasn't that exuberance that did for the Durham batsman, but a moment of indecision as a ball from Michael Yardley reared up and caught an edge and ballooned straight back into Yardley's welcoming mitts, putting an end to an entertaining hour-long duel between the two men. Coetzer was Scotland's most effective performer, and when he went, so did their cutting edge.
If Scotland had done well to find themselves 88-2 after losing such an early wicket, the next three wickets fell cheaply and in quick succession. Next to go was Josh Davey, the Aberdeen-born teenager unearthed at Middlesex by Angus Fraser. While his brief knock included Scotland's 100th run, it was over all too early when he was went leg before wicket for just four.
Nor was there any respite with the arrival of Richie Berrington. The Greenock and Saltires all-rounder has been the team's star turn this year, averaging almost 50 in all competitions, but he also departed the scene depressingly prematurely, caught smartly at point by Stuart Broad off the bowling of Yardley. When Hamilton followed on 48, stumped by Kieswetter when trying to knock Swann out of the park with the total on just 121, Scotland's last real hope of a substantial score disappeared.
With Scotland looking at one stage on course to post a total in excess of 250, the world Twenty20 champions had already taken action to rein in the home team, bringing on Swann to slow things down. Scotland never managed to regain the momentum, even if McCallum and Dougie Lockhart did put up enough resistance to keep Scotland at the crease until the 49th over, the two veterans putting on 22 runs and 46 runs respectively.
However, 211 was always going to be a difficult total to defend. As it turned out, even 250 would have been nowhere near enough against a English batting line-up that dismantled Scotland with a ruthlessness and precision which was, at times, awesome.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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