Jekyll and Hyde start to Scotland’s new chapter

06 Jul

Scotland team celebrate a wicket

"Whether you win or lose, or you play well or you don't, we've got to continue to think better." - Grant Bradburn, Scotland coach

Scotland's new era under Grant Bradburn yielded a mixed bag of results after the three match one-day series played at Titwood in Glasgow ended 1-1.

Although the series was drawn, Scotland were in total control for all but two passages of play during the first match, which ultimately, cost them the match and the series after the third match was called off due to rain on Friday.

Although the Netherlands lost their ODI status in New Zealand during the 2014 World Cup Qualifier, they have proved to be tricky opponents for Scotland in recent times.

Scotland, however, won the tournament, qualified for next year's ICC showpiece event and gained ODI status, meaning both sides had much to prove.

The visitors looked to test their host's new credentials and enhance a developing rivalry - formed in the recently concluded North Sea Pro Series 50 and 20 over competition, of which both were won by the Scotland franchise, the Highlanders.

The first one-day match ended in a 44-run defeat for the home team when they seemed to have the result in the bag. Chasing a gettable 253 to win, Scotland contrived a way to lose the game from a position of strength and victory in sight.

The home team were in control when Preston Mommsen and Hamish Gardiner shared a 77-run third wicket partnership and with no demons in the pitch, the sun out, batting conditions could not have been better.

However, the game turned at Gardiner's dismissal and sparked one of cricket's great mysteries: the batting collapse. From 157 for 2 after 32 overs to 208 all out,13 overs later; Scotland lost their final eight wickets for 51 runs.

Scotland's recent success has been forged off the back of some superb batting displays, setting big totals and chasing them down, so this was out of character for a team that has become accustomed to winning.

Bradburn might have wondered if he had taken over a previous incarnation of the Saltires and admitted that the loss was a "harsh lesson" for the team.

"We've dominated the game for three-quarters of it and had it in the palm of our hands in both innings," he said.

The New Zealand born coach was talking about the end of Holland's innings, where they added 93 runs for the last three wickets, implying his team let their opponents off the hook.

It is possible complacency might have conspired to cause defeat in the first game but this would not be the case again.

The second game played the following day, gave the Scots a chance to show the previous performance was a blip. And they delivered in style.

Bradburn had said as much after losing the first match: "The beauty is that we've got a quick turnaround, an opportunity to learn."

The previous day he described the loss as being down to "experience" and a "mental thing" but that the team "will flourish through more experience of these situations."

If the adage in professional sport is about 'learning curves' and 'looking to put things right', then Scotland and Calum MacLeod certainly did.

The Durham batsman heeded the words of his coach and set about an onslaught of epic proportions; bludgeoning  his way to 145, hitting 10 fours and two sixes, continuing his England domestic form for the national team.

Mommsen - who matched his previous day’s tally, 45 from 50 balls -and Josh Davey, 34 from 40 balls, supported him.

They kept the tempo, provided support for MacLeod and set the Dutch an intimidating 318 to win.

There would be no mistake this time; Michael Leask's four for 20 put an end to all hopes of a successful run chase and when the rain ended the match, the Netherlands were 115 for 7, 144 runs behind on the Duckworth/Lewis method.

Bradburn will be delighted with the way his team bounced back, learning from previous experience and rectifying previous mistakes in the space of 24 hours.

Friday's washout is frustrating, depriving coach and team a chance to win the series but most of all, it is one less game to prepare and develop.

Over the two matches that were played, there were some excellent individual performances and the fielding continued to be of a high standard.

Gavin Main, the 19-year-old, who recently made his First-class debut in May for Durham (took a wicket with his first ball), had some time with the national team and will do well for the experience.

New Zealand A arrive in August for a three match series and will provide a much tougher test of Scotland but one they will relish.

To improve is to play more and by playing against stronger teams, perform at a higher standard and to gain the type of experience Bradburn talked about.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Scotland.

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