MCC win three day thriller at Stirling
Marylebone Cricket Club won by 51 runs [Scorecard]
A youthful Scotland Development XI took on an experienced Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) team in a three day match at Stirling last week (18th – 20th June).
MCC captain Ajaz Akthar won the toss and elected to bat on a firm and evenly grassed wicket at New Williamfield under blue skies.
18 year old Gavin Main and 17 year old Niall Alexander opened the bowling for the Development XI, with Toby Finzel and James Overy taking strike for MCC.
It was a mixed start for the young Scots with some threatening deliveries interspersed with loose balls and a few extras allowed the MCC to progress to 51 without loss.
The breakthrough came for the Scots when Ewan Chalmers had James Overy caught by Chayank Gosain to give the Development XI their first wicket of the day. Chalmers followed his first scalp with a further two wickets including that of Finzel for a well-made 57.
Josh Edwards bowled Zimbabwe international player Cephas Zhuwao just before lunch as he was looking dangerous, having made 26 with four boundaries and a six. MCC ended the first session on 120 for 4.
If the morning session was relatively even, the afternoon and evening sessions were dominated by the MCC as the wicket flattened out and the ball became softer. Sydney University player David Miller firstly in partnership with Gregor Maiden (Grange & Scotland), then Harry Horsley and Jamie Kerr (Carlton & Scotland) compiled good partnerships to put the MCC in control.
The Scots bowlers found it difficult to stem the flow of runs and put any pressure on the MCC batsmen who eventually declared their first innings on 335 for 6 with an hour remaining on Day 1. Miller completed a fine hundred (106 not out) with Maiden (30), Horsley (31) and Kerr (51no) also contributing well. Ewan Chalmers finished the day as the most successful Scottish bowler with 3 for 72.
This left the young Scots with a challenging hour to bat against the pacey MCC opening attack of Australian test representative Peter George and South African Chad Barrett. Andrew Umeed and Hamish Gardiner became victims of Barrett’s opening burst, while Ross McLean fell to George as the Development XI found themselves in a sticky situation on 10 for 3.
Ewan Chalmers and Josh Edwards fought hard to get through to the close of play without further damage before Edwards was given out Lbw to left arm spinner Zhuwao for 18 late in the day. Chalmers and Michael English saw out the final few overs to see the Scots finish day 1 on 79 for 4.
MCC again came hard at the Development XI early on day 2, but Chalmers and English continued to defy the bowling attack and took the score to 114 before English lost concentration and was bowled trying to drive seamer David Miller for 23.
Kyle Stirling was then caught behind cutting Zhuwao and Chalmers departed in the same fashion first ball after lunch to Aktar for an excellent 84 – after impressive concentration and disciplined shot selection.
Gavin Main departed caught behind off Barrett to leave the Development XI toiling on 165 for 8 before Alex Baum launched a brilliant counter-attack against the MCC new ball bowlers who had been brought back with a view to wrap up the innings. Baum took 18 off one Peter George over including three consecutive fours and hit Barrett for a further half dozen boundaries to reach his 50. He was well supported by Alexander and Gosain, as 61 were added for the final two wickets, before the Development XI were bowled out for 226 (Baum 53no).
The MCC started their second innings looking to build on a lead of 109, and although the Scots bowled better with the new ball, the MCC had progressed to 81 without loss before Robert Cross (27) was bowled by Chayank Gosain. Edwards had Overy caught by McLean at mid-off for 55, and a two wicket burst by leg-spinner Umeed, including an excellent catch by Chalmers running backwards to dismiss the dangerous Zhuwao reduced the MCC to 124 for 4.
However, David Miller was continuing his impressive form from the first innings and in partnership with Barrett, as they progressed the score onto to 184. Chalmers then produced an even better catch than his last, diving to his right at cover, to dismiss Barrett for 35 off the bowling of Edwards. MCC closed day 2 on 189 for 5, and a healthy lead of 297.
MCC started day 3 looking to push on quickly to set the Development XI a target to chase, however the Development XI produced a fine bowling and fielding display that saw the MCC bowled out in the seventh over of the morning for 217, adding only 26 runs to their overnight total. Niall Alexander picked up two wickets, Chalmers one, and Edwards ran out Horsley with a direct hit from mid-wicket. Finzel did not bat for the MCC having had his hand broken by Main in the first innings.
The Development XI set off to chase 327 to win with 86 overs remaining in the day. However, as was the case in the first innings George and Barrett proved to be a handful with the new ball and Umeed, McLean and Chalmers all departed caught behind the wicket to leave the Scots 25 for 3 and facing an uphill struggle.
Hamish Gardiner survived a strong LBW shout and a simple catch dropped at point early in his innings, before beginning to stabilise the Dev XI in partnership with Edwards and take the score to 107 before Edwards was unfortunately given out LBW to Zhuwao for 33.
English and Gardiner put on 33 for the 6th wicket before English was the victim of a LBW verdict to depart for 21. Gardiner was then dropped again at point off Barrett before hitting his very next ball up in the air to give the same fielder the chance to make amends which he accepted - Gardiner departed for a stylish 73, although he will have been disappointed not to kick on into three figures.
The Scots were now 176 for 7 and the victory target of 327 seemed a long way off. However, Kyle Stirling and Gavin Main took the attack to the MCC, playing watchfully against the opening bowlers and aggressively against the spinners and medium pacers to add 72 for the 8th wicket before Main (20) bottom edged a cut shot onto his stumps off Zhuwao.
Stirling continued to try to take the Development XI to an unlikely victory with Alexander and then Gosain battling hard to support him, however Alexander was dismissed by a stunning catch at slip by Peter George then Stirling (76) was bowled by Barrett trying to hit over the top with the Development XI finally dismissed for 275. The MCC ran out victors by 52 runs in a match which went deep into the final hour of the third day.
Overall this was an excellent three days cricket with the young Scotland team challenged significantly by an MCC team full of experience and quality in the longer format of the game. The match was played in great weather and on a good cricket wicket which had encouragement for both batsmen and bowlers.
As always the hospitality provided by Stirling County Cricket Club was of a high standard.