The hero of Scottish cricket’s most famous day revealed that the team were determined not to be “plucky losers” as they dramatically finished off a momentous six-run victory over world No 1 side England in Edinburgh.
Batsman Calum MacLeod’s sparkling unbeaten innings of 140 set Scotland up for their first win over England in yesterday’s one-day international which sparked scenes of wild celebrations at The Grange.
After losing the toss and being put in to bat, the 13th-ranked Scots, who earlier this year agonisingly failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup in England, batted brilliantly to rack up their highest ODI score of 371-5 and set their opponents what would have been a record run chase.
Scotland have had Duncan Hodge, rugby hero of the Calcutta Cup win over England 18 years ago, helping head coach Grant Bradburn prepare the cricket team this week and MacLeod, who struck 16 fours and three sixes in his seventh ODI century, said there was always belief even as their opponents crept towards the target.
“We’ve had Duncan Hodge with us this week and he made the point that for too long Scottish sport has been about close misses and this could have been one of those but it’s something as a cricket team we’ve tried to work at,” said MacLeod.
“Taking those key moments. Big moments in games. Not being plucky Scottish losers but actually being brave enough and bold enough to walk through the door and win games.”
Fast bowler Safyaan Sharif sealed the shock win when he trapped tailender Mark Wood lbw with seven balls remaining and England still six runs in arrears.
“When Safyaan had the ball in hand at the end there everyone felt he was going to do it,” added MacLeod. “He’s a laid-back, chilled guy who backs his skills.”
MacLeod and Scotland will now look to repeat the feat when they take on another world No 1 side, Pakistan, back at The Grange in a Twenty20 double-header tomorrow and Wednesday. The 29-year-old hopes that yesterday’s seismic win will lead to the Scots getting more cracks at top-tier nations and leads the ICC to rethink their decision to cut the number of teams in the one-day World Cup rather than look to expand.
“I hope the ICC and other international teams look at this. For too long we have just been an add-on,” said MacLeod.
“Hopefully this will be catalyst that leads to more cricket and more days like this, because this was a special day with this crowd.
“I think anybody who was here has probably got the energy and felt the passion for cricket in Scotland.
“We’ve looked at the way Afghanistan and Ireland have progressed and that’s been on the back of beating full member teams.
“If we can beat the teams when we put in performances like that then that’s how we can make people sit up and take notice.”
The former Warwickshire and Durham player is currently player-coach for Kent club side Bexley in addition to his Scotland central contract.
Asked if his performance had put him in the shop window for a return to the English county scene, he said: “If something comes along there will be conversations but you don’t want to get too far ahead.
“I want to make sure we enjoy how big a win this is. There were other good performances there.
“The way [captain] Kyle [Coetzer] set the innings off, he’s been doing that for two, three years now and he’s certainly in the shop window as well.
“Anyone who watched that on Sky today would see 11 cricketers that are in the shop window and more than capable of winning games for counties and, as this proves, international games.”