Gavin Hamilton Interview v Pakistan 1999
Scotland v Pakistan - May 17/19 2013
Interview with former Scotland captain,Gavin Hamilton, by renowned cricket writer Neil Drysdale.
Gavin Hamilton could have been forgiven for feeling apprehensive as he walked to the middle at Chester-le-Street in Durham to tackle Pakistan during the 1999 World Cup. During the previous half an hour, he had watched his compatriots crumble against an onslaught of world-class pace bowling from Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar on a seamer-friendly surface. The Scots were 16 for 4, with Bruce Patterson, Iain Philip, Mike Smith and George Salmond back in the hutch – and Ian Stanger followed three runs later – when Hamilton arrived at the crease. It was a desperate situation for the youngster, pitted against opponents who had earlier posted an imposing 261 for 6 – after rallying from 92 for 5 – and who seemed determined to inflict humiliation on their rivals.
Yet, if Hamilton was worried about the calibre of the Asians’ attack, he showed little sign of it throughout his subsequent innings: one which cemented the Broxburn-born Scot’s reputation as a genuine all-rounder, who was blessed with natural talent and nerveless temperament when the chips were down. First, he and James Brinkley steadied matters with a redoubtable stand of 59, then he found another willing partner in Alec Davies as the pair steered the country beyond 100, then 120 and towards 140.
“It was tough at the start, because you looked at bowlers like Shoaib, Wasim and Abdul Razzaq and realised these guys were world-class performers, and they proved it, time and time again, in their careers,” Hamilton told Cricket Scotland. “When I got to the wicket, we were in a bit of a hole and the first thing we had to do was work hard to make things respectable and not be embarrassed. Brinks was brilliant in these circumstances: we had to dig in and it wasn’t easy, because the pitch at Durham in these days tended to favour bowling sides, so the ball was moving around and it was pretty tricky. But gradually, we put together a partnership and life became a little less difficult in the middle overs.
Hamilton isn’t one of life’s whingers. On the contrary, this is a fellow who transcended adversity and abject treatment by England to return to the Scotland ranks and captain his homeland with distinction in the latter part of his international life. Yet, he certainly wasn’t the only person among the vociferous throng at Chester-le Street to reckon that the Pakistanis, who toiled once the match commenced, would have been in even greater strife, but for the generosity of the officials towards their elite line-up.
“Looking back, they survived some blatant decisions which should have gone in our favour, but which the umpires didn’t give,” said Hamilton, who recorded the excellent analysis of two for 36 from 10 overs, taking the wickets of Saleem Malik and Moin Khan in the process, though not before the latter had orchestrated an invaluable 47.
“It was just the way things were at that stage. The big countries tended to receive the benefit of the doubt with 50-50 calls, and we just had to get on with it. I honestly think that if we had gained the rub of the green, they might have been 60 for 7 after the first 15-20 overs and anything could have happened from there. Even once they recovered, our lads never stopped causing them problems and Wasim Akram should have been out lbw first ball – another blatant decision which went against us. [And which became all the more important when he smashed an unbeaten 37 from the next 18 deliveries].
“But it was a curious match, because the Duke’s ball was swinging about all over the place and there were a remarkable amount of extras for both teams. [Scotland conceded 59, including 33 wides and 15 no-balls and Pakistan 37]. Maybe we should have tightened up in that regard, but, over the piece, we didn’t let ourselves down and that was important, because we wanted to prove we deserved to be in the competition.”
Hamilton is still turning out for East Bierly CC in Yorkshire, but he will be following the Scots closely when they meet Pakistan in a brace of ODIs at the Grange in Edinburgh on May 17 and 19. He acknowledges that his confreres are in transition, following the retirement of such stalwart campaigners as Neil McCallum, Dougie Lockhart and Fraser Watts, but is confident the new generation can pose problems for the tourists.
“There are a lot of youngsters in the squad, but I truly believe that if Scotland can beat a [ICC] Full Member side, they can kick on from there, and these occasions are to be cherished, because they don’t come along too often,” said Hamilton. “What the lads have to do is enjoy the whole experience and not come off the field, thinking: “What if…?” In ODI cricket, they have a chance in these games. They will not be the favourites, but if a few guys can chip in with 30s and 40s and a wicket or two, they have a shout.”
With which, it was off to open the batting for his club in Hamilton’s idea of heaven.