Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - New lessons for much-improved Scotland. A campaign of much promise for Scotland.
A campaign of much promise for Scotland.
Matthew Hayden, Pakistan's batting consultant, was sure before the start of the tournament that 150 would be a par score in Sharjah. He had stressed on the importance of not going too hard at a conventional T20 total if the conditions don't aid it. The struggle, on Sunday, of their in-form openers – Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan – was validation for Hayden's advice.
However, by the second half of the innings, Babar had settled in and had got used to the pace of the wicket. His fluent stroke-making coupled with Mohammad Hafeez's ‘batting with intent', threw Scotland off their plans and lengths. In trying to find an answer to Pakistan's late onslaught, they played into their hands, especially that of Shoaib Malik – who powered away to an 18-ball fifty. Pakistan, for the second time in tournament, posted 189
In response, against the most clinical bowling attack, Scotland's batting never took off. By the time Richie Berrington could come out to bat – Scotland's chase was nearly off, and on a pitch where the ball was staying low, there was no pleasant news for the batters. Berrington, nonetheless, exhibited fine skill to register a half-century even though his innings at no point threatened the opposition. Scotland were limited to 117/6, bringing an anti-climatic end for Kyle Coetzer's men, whose world cup campaign had started out full of promise,
Scotland's passage to the World Cup was a result of three years of consistent performances, triggered by the loss in the 2018 50-over World Cup qualifier. Much like how Berrington came through on the final day, a lot was expected of George Munsey, Matthew Cross, Calum MacLeod and the captain himself, who had formed the core of their batting unit on their path to the Super 12s. They had forged one of the strongest batting line-ups in the associate circuit, and had made it clear that they wanted to be noticed by the franchises of big T20 leagues around the world.
With a fairly sharpened bowling line-up assisting their batters, which was further enhanced by the inclusion of Chris Greaves, Scotland had all the ingredients in place to make the tournament a historic campaign.
In a way, for a team that has under-performed in World Cups over the years, they did cross that milestone, by winning all their three matches in the Oman leg – first nullifying the threat of Bangladesh – the masters of slow-paced wicket – on the slow-paced track of Al Amerat, and then easing past the challenges against Papua New Guinea and the hosts.
For as realistic as they were about their chances in the Super 12s, there was one constant hope they lived on – to showcase all that they can as a team as well as individually. They were mindful of the opportunity at hand, but barring Michael Leask with the bat and Mark Watt with his tidy spells, many couldn't quite make an impression in the second round.
As the tournament progressed, their performances tapered off as well, beginning with the last-over loss to Namibia. They challenged in vain against New Zealand, but were outplayed by India and Pakistan.
Despite all that they couldn't take away from the tournament, there was a lot that they did, as Coetzer mentioned in his post match press conference.
“This seven weeks or so I'm extremely proud of how we've played and what we've achieved,” Coetzer said on Sunday. “We've got an excellent group, and the guys are willing to learn. They're trying to learn as fast as they can. Being exposed to what we have been exposed to in the Super 12s is only going to make us stronger and make us actually realise some of the skills on show and some of the efforts you have to put in to achieve it at this level.
“[It's] Not that we have never played here (at the World Cups) before, we have done and quite a few times, but what we've realised (this time) is the importance of the powerplay. We haven't really nailed that yet with the bat… the importance of how to play high-quality spin bowling.
Even as Scotland were the weakest batting team against spin in the Super 12s, Coetzer defended his batsmen and said, “I believe that we're a very strong side and very capable of playing spin bowling, but it's a different story when you come and play at Sharjah and you come and play at some of these grounds out here and the style in which the mystery spinner is coming down. We have to go away and look at that and see how we can develop that as much as possible.
“I think we need to be a little bit braver as a bowling unit, perhaps. We've noticed a number of the teams out here actually have been double bluffing quite a lot, setting fields and bowling balls that don't necessarily match up, but what they do is they nail those — they execute those deliveries extremely well. These are just a couple of things there just off the top of my head, but there's plenty to learn from and plenty given their last two performances, to improve when we go home.”
The early success of the team may have been lost in with the memories of their last two performances, but there were a few standout moments for them in this tournament. Beyond the results of victories and defeats, captain Coetzer hopes their campaign will bring in more people for the games in Scotland as also inspire other associate teams to do better at the world stage.
“As a team, we want to showcase the skills that we have. We also wanted to gain as much experience as we possibly could against these teams that we faced in the Super 12s. Reaching the Super 12s was our immediate goal, and we achieved that, but we need to learn as much as we possibly can from these games because 12 months down the line, we've got another World Cup to go to.
“Yes, it's going to be in different conditions so we have to factor that in, but we now know, because we've experienced it, what to expect because it had been a number of years since we played at a World Cup. I think it was 2016. And we didn't manage to get to the group stages then. A huge achievement to get through to the Super 12s, and that's going to put us certainly in a better place moving forward.
“When we go home, we have to be bold and brave to make sure we push our whole organisation forward. We have to find a way to improve our A team structures when we're at home, and we have to find a way to keep developing this team, this squad of players that we have.
“We've got a long journey to go on, but it's an exciting one to be a part of. Who wouldn't want to be part of Cricket Scotland right now after following this tournament and seeing how well these guys have done? Look at Richie Berrington today; he just showed the class that he has. Look at Mark Watt throughout the tournament; he's been outstanding. Hamza Tahir came in today and did a fantastic job. Safyaan Sharif has been fantastic with his early skills with the ball and at the death.
“I could go through the whole lineup. Chris Greaves, he's got to have a mention, the way he bowled against Bangladesh and the way he put his hand up to bowl the last over of the game today. That's some fantastic team spirit we have there. We've got some great following, great team spirit, and really, really just want to thank everyone back home for all their support. It's been outstanding.
“I think we've shown on a couple of occasions almost what we're capable of. We've got plenty left in the tank. But hopefully from the seven weeks or so we've managed to inspire as many associate nations as we possibly can and hopefully certainly inspire young cricketers back in Scotland.
“That's why we're here. We're here to try and give it all for our country and be able to inspire as many people as we possibly can. That's how I started many years ago, watching Scotland play in the World Cup, and hopefully, there will be a few more boys and girls coming through that will want to play cricket for their country.”