SCOTLAND emerged with credit, but not victory, from their opening YB40 fixture of the season against holders Hampshire yesterday.
Without the benefit of an overseas player, one of the most youthful Saltires sides of recent times went into the encounter at the Ageas Bowl as massive underdogs. However, they showed glimpses of genuine promise with both bat and ball before going down by five wickets.
Defending a total of 192, Scotland’s bowlers made an encouraging start when Calvin Burnett, returning to the side after a two-year absence, picked up his first wicket in Saltires colours.
England Lions opener Michael Carberry made a big hundred when the Scots visited the Ageas Bowl last season but he had managed just four when Burnett found an edge and debutant Matthew Cross took the catch behind. Better followed when James Vince, fresh from a century against Essex on Friday, slashed a delivery from Gordon Goudie into the slips where Majid Haq took a sensational one-handed catch.
The Scots may have feared that their former team-mate George Bailey would lead the recovery, especially when the Australian stroked four boundaries on his way to 24. However, Gordon Drummond produced a magnificent delivery to remove Bailey’s off-stump before a Matt Machan full toss found Sean Ervine lobbing a simple catch to Calum MacLeod.
At 78-4 the Saltires had Hampshire in a spot of bother but home skipper Jimmy Adams kept calm to put his side on course with a composed half-century. Adams became Drummond’s second victim, holing out to Moneeb Iqbal with Hampshire still 63 runs short of their target.
However, that was as good as it got for the Scots as Liam Dawson (54no) and Adam Wheater (35no) guided their side home with 15 balls to spare.
The Saltires batted superbly at the start and finish of their innings but paid the price for a flurry of soft mid-innings dismissals.
Freddie Coleman, opening for the first time in a Saltires shirt, and MacLeod set the tone by racing to 37 in five overs.
Coleman outscored his more senior colleague with five attractive boundaries in a knock of great promise. MacLeod was also in attacking mood but, having made 13, he attempted a scoop shot which presented Chris Wood with a simple catch and David Balcombe with the first of his two wickets.
The Uddingston player’s dismissal sparked a mini-collapse and a damaging slowing of the scoring rate. Coleman followed for 27 while Machan, Haq and Richie Berrington all went cheaply to see the Scots slip to 88-5 in the 24th over.
It was left to stand-in skipper Preston Mommsen and newcomer Cross to repair an innings which was in danger of losing its way completely. Like Coleman, Cross showed that the future of Scottish batting is in good hands with a well-constructed 21 before he fell to Wood.
Mommsen, though, played a classic captain’s knock, getting himself in slowly before opening up with a blaze of boundaries. The Carlton batsman lofted England left-arm spinner Danny Briggs but reserved special punishment for Wood, whom he hit for three boundaries in one over.
Mommsen eventually finished unbeaten on 60 while Iqbal weighed in with a rapid 17 before Goudie polished the innings off with 15no from just five deliveries.
Saltires coach Pete Steindl, who admitted his side paid the price for their mid-innings lapse, said: “Overall I have to say it is an encouraging start to the campaign with what was a pretty inexperienced side.
“Freddie [Coleman] and Calum [MacLeod] got us some quick runs up top and it was just a shame that we lost our way.
“But we recovered well and Preston, Moneeb and Gordon showed real intent. The bowlers hit their lines and it would have been interesting if the target had been that bit bigger. But we can take lot of positives from this.”