Scotland record '˜greatest win in history' as they stun England in the cricket

Scotland players celebrate taking the wicket of Moeen Ali during the victory at the Grange. Picture: SNS.Scotland players celebrate taking the wicket of Moeen Ali during the victory at the Grange. Picture: SNS.
Scotland players celebrate taking the wicket of Moeen Ali during the victory at the Grange. Picture: SNS.
With a couple of overs remaining the miracle was most certainly on but the overriding, nagging sense was that yet another addition to the Scottish sporting pantheon of near misses still seemed the more likely outcome.

England still had two wickets in hand and were edging closer to their imposing target when the match announcer seemed to divine the extraordinary scenes about to unfold when he issued a stern warning about spectators not encroaching on to The Grange playing surface.

The words went unheeded a few minutes later when seamer Safyaan Sharif trapped England’s No 11 Mark Wood to seal a sensational victory which sparked a euphoric pitch invasion that stirred memories of Freuchie’s iconic Village Cup success at Lord’s in 1985.

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Yesterday’s extraordinary win surpassed that as Scottish cricket’s most famous day as the world’s leading one-day international side were toppled by a Scotland team still smarting from failure to qualify for next year’s World Cup and determined to prove they can still have a role to play in the global game.

It may have been a one-off meeting, effectively a warm-up match for an England side preparing to lock horns with Australia, and in cricketing terms it is those two nations who are the “old enemies”, but any sporting contest between Scotland and England can be guaranteed to come with some edge.

When the sell-out crowd flocked into The Grange yesterday morning, however, nobody could have expected what they were about to witness as Scotland posted their record ODI score of 371-5, driven by a supreme 140 not out by Calum MacLeod.

Incredibly, that set England what would have been their highest chase in 50-over international history but that remains the 350-3 against New Zealand at Nottingham in 2015 as Scotland ensured it would be their record-breaking feats which stand out from a sun-drenched day that provided a feast of sport at its most dramatically compelling and emotionally-charged in this leafy, picture-postcard corner of the capital.

England may not be world champions but their ascent to the top of the ODI rankings in the past couple of years certainly lend a certain “Wembley 1967” feel to the heroics.

Gone are the days when these occasional glamour games would come with a gentleman’s agreement that the “big” team would bat first to avoid the possibility of the minnows being skittled out and the crowd having their day’s entertainment vastly reduced.

When visiting skipper Eoin Morgan won the toss there was no hesitation to have a bowl in slightly overcast early conditions. This England side have risen to No 1 in the world ODI rankings on the back of a more ruthless and professional approach to the white-ball game and, with the series against Australia starting at The Oval on Wednesday, clearly would have no qualms about wrapping up a comprehensive victory.

There was an anxious murmur through the crowd as it was announced that the Scots would bat first but those concerns were soon eased by a hugely impressive start by the home openers, who played with a calmness and positivity that provided a perfect platform for what was to come.

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Skipper Kyle Coetzer and Matthew Cross raced to 70 for no wicket in the first ten overs and then pushed on to register the first century partnership by a Scottish pair against England.

Coetzer brought up his 12th ODI half-century in style with a majestic six as boundaries, which had been brought in considerably, were peppered at regular intervals.

The breakthrough came with the score on 103 and, as is so often the case, one wicket led to another in quick succession as both openers were caught behind by wicketkeeper Sam Billings, Koetzer off the spin of Adil Rashid and Cross to the pace of Liam Plunkett.

That left Scotland in that always precarious position of having batsman at both ends, MacLeod and Richie Berrington, pictured inset, on nought and facing the task of rebuilding the innings.

They did so in fine style before Berrington was caught by Joe Root off Plunkett for an entertaining cameo of 39 off 54 balls.

This time, England’s bowlers, who were serving up too much width, couldn’t add another as Scotland passed 200 for the loss of only three wickets.

MacLeod and George Munsey proceeded to pile on the second century partnership of the match to the delight of an increasingly vocal crowd who were beginning to sense Scotland could post something special.

Having reached 200 by the 30-over mark with seven wickets to spare, thoughts of a score approaching 400, a beyond fanciful thought when the first delivery was sent down, began to be contemplated.

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In the end, it wasn’t to be quite that mammoth but the brilliance of MacLeod drove the Scots on, ably assisted by the flamboyant Munsey, who fired a thrilling 55 off 51 balls.

David Willey was taking the most punishment in a below-par bowling display but most credit had to go to the Scots. There were stars right through the batting order but it was 29-year-old Glaswegian MacLeod who burned brightest, adding three maximums to his 16 fours, and ending unbeaten on 140 from 94 balls.

Debutant Dylan Budge made a brisk 11 before being clean bowled by Wood and Michael Leask rekindled memories of his 16-ball 42 in the last home ODI against England at Aberdeen in 2014, when he stood and delivered a straight six off his first ball.

It was MacLeod who took the plaudits, however, with every member of the English team sportingly taking time to give him a pat on the back and handshakes as he left the field to the acclaim of The Grange crowd.

The feeling that England’s superstars would be licking their lips at the belter of a batting wicket and compact ropes was borne out by the way they set about the pursuit, opener Jonny Bairstow bludgeoning a 54-ball 105.

The scoreboard was whizzing but 
Scotland’s attack kept their cool and, after dislodging Jason Roy and then Bairstow, continued to take wickets at regular intervals, 21-year-old left-arm spinner Mark Watt taking three, adding Sam Billings and Moeen Ali to Roy as his victims.

It still looked like England would inch their way to the target but the run-out of Rashid opened the door and it was Sharif who stepped up to finish the job with seven balls of the match remaining.