Abbi Aitken Tour Diary #2
Scotland Development XI captain, Abbi Aitken gives us the second instalment of her blog from the recent tour to Dubai.
Wednesday 20th February (Scotland Dev XI v Lancashire)
Today the team took advantage of a slightly longer lie in as we departed the hotel at 11.30am. We played our first fixture in Dubai at the Fairs Ground, Dubai Men’s College. On the 2 hour journey from our hotel to the venue, the girls had time to reflect on the Wales fixture and formulate their game plans for the day ahead. The bus journeys to and from the hotel also comprise of a team challenge where quiz master, Kari Carswell, challenges the girls general knowledge and trivia. However, when the girls soon realised today’s topic was on the number of sheep in different countries around the world to the nearest 10 million, the competitive ones amongst us were soon noticed.
Upon arrival, I went to have a look at the wicket – crazy paving or cracked concrete come to mind – and it was soon apparent that the pitch would favour the batsmen. The outfield wasn’t as flat as the training facilities at the Zayed pitch we’d used previously, which meant our ground fielding was put to the test.
An improved performance by our bowlers and our fielders, we restricted Lancashire to 151 off the allotted 40 overs. Again our spin twins Kirstie Gordon and Lois Wilkinson proved that spin was going to play a crucial part in the games this week.
The mood at the break was optimistic and the girls were aware of the challenge that was ahead. This was our first ever day/night match and the opportunity to bat under floodlights was a new experience for all. The girls worked extremely hard to get within sight of the Lancashire total, but on this occasion fell 13 runs short of the total needed. However the experience of a near successful run chase, will prove valuable in close games in the future.
It was good to see Pete Steindl, Gordon Drummond and Toby Bailey come along and support the girls today – the girls and I appreciated the extra support from familiar faces!
After a late finish the team and support staff enjoyed (demolished) pizzas on the journey back to Abu Dhabi. It was great to see the girls in high spirits after a close loss – which would help the mood in the camp for our early morning match the next day. In particular, special shout out to Naz ‘Nadia’ Chatterji for her highly entertaining rendition of ‘The Puddock’ by J M Caie – thanks for that Oxford!!
Thursday 21st February (Scotland Dev XI v Sussex)
Back to our early morning alarm calls and after a late night travelling back from our match in Dubai, the girls were a little fatigued and stiff following the weeks exertions. We were fully aware of the quality of players that Sussex had within their team, and that today’s match would be a real test for our development squad – and this proved to be the case.
A rest day for myself , following an elbow injury which occurred in the Wales fixture. Sussex won the toss and the girls were asked to field first. Bowling coach Steve Paige was delighted with the areas the girls bowled and the skills that were executed by all bowlers. However the quality of the Sussex batters meant the bad balls were punished and the majority of good deliveries were also successfully negotiated.
We were up against top-class bowlers and on this occasion the quality was just too good. Regardless of the outcome of the match, the girls battled hard, making a conscious effort to continue to work on our game plan and build on winter training efforts.
After an honest debrief from the girls and the coaching staff the squad was determined in not letting the days defeat be too disheartening, and our focus had immediately moved to our next and final match of the week, against Durham.