Essex overcome the Saltires
Essex 217/7 (29 overs), Westley 63, Mommsen 2/20, beat Scottish Saltires 158/4 (29 overs), Mommsen 70*, Coleman 64, Phillips 3/21 by 59 runs [Scorecard]
The Scottish Saltires welcomed Essex to the Grange Cricket Club as they started their home Yorkshire Bank 40 campaign.
A 1.45pm start time did not look likely as a steady shower of rain hovered over the ground.
After an hour and a half, the weather brightened up enoughand the rain came to a halt, and the umpires agreed on a start time of 3.30pm with the number of overs reduced to 29.
Scottish Saltires captain Preston Mommsen won the toss and inserted Essex into bat, in what they hoped would be tricky batting conditions.
From the 13 man Saltire’s squad selected earlier in the week, Matt Machan and Paddy Sadler were not named in the starting XI, with the former receiving a call up to Sussex’s YB40 squad for their encounter against Warwickshire at Edgbaston. Essex were also forced into making an unexpected late change as youngster Reece Topley injured himself during the warm up.
It was a proud day for Stoneywood-Dyce youngster Michael Leask who was handed a senior debut after impressing in the recent Scotland A matches.
Essex openers Westley and Pettini made their way out to the middle, with Dewald Nel and Calvin Burnett taking the new ball.
Both openers looked in good touch early on, with Westley hitting consecutive boundaries off Burnett through extra-cover to race to 13 runs off 9 balls.
This continued as both Westley and Pettini looked comfortable against seam bowling as they raced past 50 in the sixth over – Burnett going for 33 runs from his initial three overs.
Essex had reached 74 at the 10 over mark without the loss of a wicket, and had built a successful foundation for the rest of the innings.
The Saltires first scalp of the day came in the 13th over, courtesy of a stunning one handed diving catch from Nel fielding at long-on to give Leask his first wicket at senior representative level
Batsmen Pettini looked to dominate the young off-spin bowler by hitting a maximum from the first ball of the over, but Nel leapt magnificently into the air to take the catch to dismiss the batsman for a well-made 47 from 40 deliveries.
Moneeb Iqbal’s leg-spin was introduced into the bowling attack, and had an immediate impact as Mommsen took a sharp, low catch at backward-point to dismiss Jaik Mickleburgh with the score on 109-2.
Spin seemed to be the order of the day as Majid Haq was re-introduced at the Pavilion End and claimed the prize wicket of Graham Napier LBW in the 20th over.
Scotland kept alternating between the spin bowlers, leading to another wicket, when Mommsen had Smith caught well down the leg-side by Matthew Cross behind the stumps, as the boundaries dried up for Essex.
The three over batting power-play was taken the visitors in the 25th over, with the team sitting on a healthy 150-4 with 4 overs left in the innings.
However the Saltires kept working, and were well-rewarded as James Foster was caught on the sweep, departing for a rapid 29 when he was caught by Iqbal.
In the last few overs Essex accelerated through the gears, looking to dominate the bowling as they added 40 runs in just over 3 overs.
Westley departed for 63 as Mommsen claimed his second wicket, and Foakes joined him after a Cross run-out, as the game entered the final over of the innings.
New man in, ex-England bowler Sajid Mahmood, played a superb cameo innings as he bludgeoned 20 runs off 5 balls ensuring Essex passed the 200 mark and reached 217-7 after their allotted 29 overs.
In reply Calum Macleod and Matthew Cross walked out to the middle as the Saltires needed just over 7 runs an over to reach Essex’s total and a solid start was needed.
Cross got the boundary count underway as he flicked a ball through mid-wicket for 4, but the team suffered an early loss when Macleod was given out LBW from the bowling of Masters.
Cross followed in the third over, getting a leading edge to give Petinni an easy catch in the infield, with the score 10-2.
Tim Phillips claimed his second wicket of the afternoon, Berrington the man out this time driving into the hands of Pettini at cover, as the Essex bowlers kept up the pressure.
Freddie Coleman looked busy at the crease and found success in reverse sweeping the spin of Westley for 4 as he and Mommsen rotated the strike well, helping the total past 40 in the 12th over.
The Saltire’s started to accelerate in the 15th over as Mommsen scored three consecutive boundaries off Mahmood as the Scots pair looked comfortable, despite being well behind the required rate and Duckworth Lewis target.
Coleman stuck to the task well, hoisting Phillips wide of mid-on for a one bounce four, and the very next over delicately cutting the spin bowler Smith to the boundary.
Coleman showed his class by cracking Westley for 2 consecutive fours, before he brought up his half-century with an edge down to third man, the number three registering his fifty at nearly a run a ball.
Mommsen soon followed suit by reaching his fifty with his sixth boundary of the innings.
Both batsmen started playing more expansive shots, bringing the run-rate up to nearly 7, and reach 150-3 in the 27th over.
The duo completed a 100 run partnership before Coleman was then dismissed for 64, caught by Foakes in the deep from the bowling of Philips.
Mommsen located the boundary once more with a well-timed sweep before the innings came to a close with Scotland on 158-4.
In the end it wasn’t to be with the Saltires finishing 59 runs short of the victory target, however there were plenty of positives to take from the game.
A defiant partnership between Coleman and Mommsen helped Scotland dominate the middle-overs of their innings; however some expensive overs from the Scotland bowlers ultimately cost the Saltire’s.
Several performances will have given the selectors something to think about before the squad is announced to play Pakistan in two One Day Internationals next week.