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La Manga Diaries: Samantha Haggo (Part 2)

In the second instalment of La Manga Diaries, Samantha Haggo reacts to a nail-biting super over win for Scotland, opens the doors to life on tour for Scotland Women and praises the hard work of support staff.

Cricket Scotland @CricketScotland
July 1, 2019 2 weeks
La Manga Diaries: Samantha Haggo (Part 2)

After the disappointment of losing to the Netherlands by just 7 runs, we went into match 3 fired up and ready to right our wrongs.

We regrouped in the morning before the game, discussing what was good, and what didn’t quite go to to plan so we could make sure we made better decisions moving forwards.

Whilst the livestream is great coverage for women’s cricket, it’s also been beneficial for us to look back at and see what we did well, and didn’t do so well. Abtaha especially appreciated this new innovation: “Look! It’s me! It’s me!”

Anyways, we went into the Netherlands game with our set game plans, determined to put in a stronger performance. We wanted to use the breezy Spanish cross-wind to our advantage and really attack certain bowlers to areas of the ground where they hadn’t put a fielder in the previous match (which we hadn’t quite capitalised on).

Simple game really – put a decent score on the board and then put in a tight, tidy performance with the ball and in the field to restrict them. We were confident that if we got a few early, key wickets then we’d be putting ourselves in the best possible chance of a positive result.

We won the toss and opted to bat. Regular wickets throughout and a below par batting performance reduced us to 96 all out after 18.5 overs. So…it hadn’t quite gone to plan. We knew we were going to have to pull out something special to stay in the mix, and give us the best possible chance of finishing top of the table. We were still confident that a few early wickets would put a lot of pressure on the Dutch middle and lower order who perhaps hadn’t quite had much time and/or experience in the middle.

Thanks to some excellent bowling up top from the the skipper, we got our 2 early wickets. Game. On.

Regular wickets were counteracted with some aggressive power-hitting from the Dutch and the balance kept swinging from side to side. One over to go, 6 runs required. McGill bowled tidy, consistent lines and kept us in the game. 1 ball left, 3 runs required. The Dutch managed 2 and just like that we were about to experience our first Super Over.

I’m going to apologise now for my lack of dramatisation of the last over, and for the impending super over.

1. Creative writing is not my forté and 2. It’s all a bit of a blur if I’m quite honest.

Cool-as-ice Kathryn Bryce was handed the nut to bowl the Super Over. As ever, she bowled tight areas to frustrate the Dutch and restrict them to just 7 runs. Outstanding work from our skipper.

As if that wasn’t enough pressure, she then stuck the pads on alongside younger sister Sarah to attempt to chase it down. Side by side, we waited on the boundary with a rollercoaster of emotions going through the team. Jacko [Lorna Jack] couldn’t look, Sue [Sue Strachan, Team Manager] was almost crying, others were rocking back and forth. I was probably complaining about being hungry.

Anyhoo, our Super Over got off to the best possible start with Sarah dispatching the first ball for 4. We knew that we only needed 7 to win since we had scored more boundaries than the Dutch had, and achieved this on the 5th ball of the over. To finish the game, the 6th ball of the over went for the 1 run required to win outright, after which the Scotland end of the stadium erupted with jubilation (by Scotland end of the stadium I mean the 6 person-strong Tartan Army).

Nerves were shredded and finger nails bitten, but a win is a win and it was one we most certainly enjoyed. The fight shown by every member of the team was incredible and testament to how hard we have worked and the belief we have in each other.

Speaking of the Tartan Army, it would be an utter travesty not to mention our ever-present, all-singing, all-dancing support. They really saw us through those final moments (as well as every other game!) and we are incredible grateful for the support (and occasional tough love) that they give us from the sidelines. It really keeps us going and we are so happy to have them on tour with us.

Friday night brought with it the dreaded fines night. For those not in the know, we have a fines master and assistant fines master who are tasked with recording stupid things that people have said and done across the course of a tour. This tour, we’ve decided to donate our fines to the Brain Tumour Charity in memory of our fellow Scotland player, Con de Lange.

This is how our fines system works: we have taxes imposed on each player which are non-negotiable before fines even come into play. For example, we have a traitor tax (those who play for other counties) amongst several others which are probably best left unmentioned unless I want to get into trouble.

For a generally highly-educated bunch, we really do give Karl Pilkington a run for his money.

If you read my previous blog you’ll know that Megan McColl doesn’t know how to turn off a light switch. Well…it appears young Katherine Fraser doesn’t know how to close a door and left our apartment door open not just once, but TWICE for extended periods of time, with all valuables on show in all their glory.

To be fair she is only a little ‘un so maybe instead of fining her pocket money we should just send her for 10 minutes on the naughty step.

It’s always a laugh and the fact it’s going towards a cause close to our hearts makes the endless ribbing and slagging off worthwhile.

Fortunately, fisticuffs were avoided and afterwards we enjoyed a team meal on the resort before an early night.

Our fourth and final game of the tournament came in the form of Germany. We knew we had to put in a pretty special performance (and rely on the Germans beating the Dutch, or the Dutch not matching our Net Run Rate if they did win). With the latter out-with our control, we approached the game with a positive, attacking mentally. Win the toss, opt to bat, score a big total and then be ruthless in our defence, hoping to replicate our clinical bowling innings from game 1.

This “bigger picture” doesn’t just happen and we were conscious that we had to take it ball by ball and trust our processes, with the end result bound to take care of itself if we backed our own skills. Brycey lost the toss and Germany inserted us to bat. So far, so good. We got off to a racing start, and despite a blip in the form of losing our resident gun Sarah Bryce, we continued to build momentum, reaching 90 runs at the half way stage.

Kathryn and Becky were in illustrious form, hitting all around the ground and both brought up their 50s within a few balls of each other. Kathryn fell soon afterwards and after this we never seemed to get going. Wickets fell at regular intervals, and we finished on 163. Whilst we were disappointed not to reach 200, it was also our highest ever T20 score and that in itself should be celebrated despite the fact we didn’t kick on quite as we’d have liked to at the halfway point.

Our bowling unit has put in a decent shift this week, and today was no different. With the first ball of her spell, Abtaha took the first German wicket, with her second following a few balls later. Wickets came at regular intervals, with tight bowling and sharp fielding rewarded. We restricted Germany to 61 and with that we got our 3rd win out of 4.

A rousing rendition of Flower of Scotland soon followed and it was off to for lunch and an afternoon off. Whilst we enjoyed some time by the pool, we had one eye on the game going on down the road, knowing that we needed a lot of things to go our way to ensure we finished top of the table.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and we finished 2nd on this occasion. Despite this, it was a good effort this week from the girls in hot conditions and it’s fair to say our hard graft over winter is starting to pay off. We don’t just turn up to these tournaments and play. There is a heck of a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to get us where we are, in the Cricket Scotland office and beyond.

From a playing point of view, we’re incredibly grateful for the support staff we’ve had: our S&C coach Charlotte (for getting us fit and strong and pushing us in our fitness tests), our sports psychologist Stephen (for spurring us on to “be brave”), our physios Bruce and Mairi (one is the best BrUber driver in La Manga and the other doubles as an agony aunt and therapist – are we paying them enough?!), our manager Sue (for always running after us, encouraging us and for generally being wonderful), our assistant coach Peter (for going out of his way to help us all with coaching and advice; nothing is ever too much trouble for him and he’ll throw balls till the sun goes down. Big ups, Hans), and last but not least our Head Coach Steve.

He’s always working hard to ensure we better ourselves and is fully committed to helping us achieve our end goals, whether it’s getting up 3 hours early to watch a whole game’s worth of footage or making sure we are 100% clear in our game plans. Ps. Please get a new water bottle, Steve. That thing could walk itself home from Spain.

We’re all feeling very optimistic about the next challenges coming our way over the next busy few months, and can’t wait to get stuck in. We always want to get better and I know we’ll keep working hard as we work to achieve our goal of qualifying for a World Cup.

Ps. Can’t finish the blog without a shoutout to Abtaha for reaching her 50th cap this week. She is a fantastic player to have in your team, and an even better person.

Delighted for you HooHa – here’s to the next 50.

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