SCOTLAND avoided their lowest-ever First Class total but not defeat as Australia A completed the easiest of victories at The Grange, Edinburgh, yesterday.
A match which had been scheduled to last four days barely made it halfway through the third as the tourists proved too strong in every department.
While Australia were twice able to declare, Scotland found themselves in danger of complete humiliation both times they batted. Indeed, without the application of Calum MacLeod, the margin of defeat would have been even greater.
The former Warwickshire batsman, no stranger to multi-day cricket following several seasons on the county second eleven circuit, followed his first innings half-century by again top-scoring for the Scots, this time with 30no.
However, a second innings total of 93 left the Scots nursing the wounds of a 360-run defeat.
MacLeod had good support from Matthew Cross and Iain Wardlaw in the first innings but there were few other positives from a Scottish batting perspective.
The verdict on the bowlers is less damning, Iain Wardlaw and Gordon Goudie having proved a competitive new-ball pair but, in the absence of the injured Majid Haq, the dearth of quality spinners is glaring.
With their lead already an imposing 388, the Australians batted on long enough to take their advantage to 453 runs, Ashton Agar and Moises Henriques both making half-centuries.
Scotland’s reply was quickly in tatters as the top order crumbled for the second day running in the face of some hostile and skilful new-ball bowling by James Pattinson, Chadd Sayers and Peter Siddle.
Pattinson was the pick with 4-21 as the Scots slumped to 45-7. However, MacLeod again showed his experience, taking 18 balls to get off the mark before opening out with some attractive shots including an exquisite extra cover drive off Siddle before twice reverse-sweeping Nathan Lyon to the boundary.
However, there was little else for the home supporters to enthuse over, nor skipper Preston Mommsen who admitted: “It’s massively disappointing and we have to admit our batsmen just haven’t been up to it.
“We re-assessed after the first innings and had plans but individually we have come up short.
“Having said that the Australians are a quality bowling unit and there were several Test players in their side and they showed their skills.”
Mommsen believes this game has demonstrated the need for Scotland to play more multi-day cricket with the red ball – even if the process needs to begin against opposition a little less daunting than this Australian side.
“Overall you can see we need to play more red ball cricket – we are so accustomed to playing with the white ball over 50 overs and T20. “We need to improve massively and it’s not going to happen overnight.
“I’m not sure why this game was organised – it’s not something I have asked though people might say we’d have been better playing them in 50 overs or T20.
“But it’s been a good experience playing against this level of opposition even if we haven’t taken advantage. It’s a wasted opportunity in some ways.”
Mommsen, though, paid tribute to MacLeod, adding: “Calum has played more multi-day cricket with the red ball than most of us and that probably showed.
“He has had a very good game and played well.”