Fearless Freddie Coleman came of age as a Saltires batsman to provide hope going into their one-day cricket internationals with Pakistan in Edinburgh this coming Friday and Sunday.
Saltires may have lost by 59 runs to Essex Eagles at Raeburn Place in the Yorkshire Bank Pro 40 tournament, but it was an occasion to be remembered and savoured for the emergence of 21-year-old Penicuik-reared, Strathallan-educated Coleman, who completed his first half century in national colours and shared in a 123-run partnership with captain Preston Mommsen.
For Coleman, who made 64, it was a far cry from his debut three years ago when, thrown in at the deep end against Nottinghamshire, he lasted four balls and failed to score.
Nowadays this is a highly confident young man who showed the full range of shots in garnering boundaries from reverse sweeps, cover drives, the most delicate of nudges down the leg side and finally a flick over the head of third man.
All told, there were half a dozen boundaries in his 56-ball half century and it will be fascinating to see how this talented tyro fares against the full might of Pakistan.
Mommsen ended not out 70 in pursuit of a 218 target and it was the second time in successive matches that Carlton’s all rounder had led from the front having hit a half century last weekend at Hampshire. How Saltires have been seeking the ability to keep a partnership and that time may now have arrived. Had it not been for a couple of loose overs with the ball then, who knows, Saltires might even have posted a first-ever victory against Essex at the seventh attempt.
There can be no disguising, though, that to begin with Saltires must have been hoping there was plenty of truth in the old showbiz adage that the poorer the dress rehearsal (for Pakistan), the better the performance on the night.
In a match reduced from 40 to 29 overs-a-side by early rain, only fleetingly in the field did Saltires give glimpses of their best form, such as when the first 80 runs were scored after being asked to bat by Essex without an extra being conceded.
More often, Saltires were profligacy personified and after Dewald Nel – recalled after four years – saw his initial two overs go for nine runs he returned to the attack much later and was duly dispatched for 26 runs off one over including an eight when a no-ball was sent by James Foster clear over the ropes.
Winding down the innings, Gordon Drummond fared little better in going for 21 at the hands of Sajid Mahmood, while Graham Napier got off the mark with an imperious sweep to the boundary followed by a couple of big sixes.
Credits included a sharp Richie Berrington run out to dismiss Ben Foakes, a sensational catch in the deep by Nel to give a wicket on his debut to Michael Leask and some tidy spin from Majid Haq (2-22) and skipper Mommsen (2-20) to be rewarded with a couple of wickets each.
Alas, at no stage did the Scots manage to impose themselves on their county opponents with Tom Westley able to play an anchor innings of 63.
Westley was second last to go and, with the total on 195, the visiting total always looked daunting.
That was especially the case when Calum Macleod perished first ball lbw to David Masters.
Soon after, Macleod’s fellow opener Matthew Cross got a leading edge to a delivery from Tim Phillips and he, too, was on his way.
When Berrington was caught at cover for nine, Saltires stood 27-3 after eight overs and an early finished seemed on the cards.
However, Coleman dug in to easily surpass the best of his previous four Saltires innings – 27 – before holing out on the boundary, while another highlight was Mommsen dishing out some stick to former England bowler Sajid Mahmood with three successive boundaries.
Another imperious sweep by Mommsen took the Scots to 157 at stumps and Saltires’ honour had been salvaged, if not victory achieved.