Scotland claim the I-Cup - Part 2
With Scotland successfully making it out of the European group stage, they were now preparing for a showdown against Kenya in Abu Dhabi, where the conditions were in stark contrast to those of Clontarf and Mannofield.
A key player against Ireland, Dougie Lockhart, told of the team’s further success after Clontarf, “We took momentum from the Ireland game into the last few games of the season, beating Bangladesh, then defeating Derbyshire and a tie with Worcestershire in the Totesport League.
So we went to Dubai feeling confident and were boosted by the addition to the squad of Gavin Hamilton and John Blain, who had both been playing county cricket all summer. “
Wright called correctly against Kenya in the baking sun of the Sheikh Zayed stadium, electing to bat first where the Scottish batsmen were to dominate the first innings.
Fraser Watts conjured up yet another century in the heat, aided by 57 from Ryan Watson, which helped to maneuver the Scots to 300, and into a position where they were able to declare.
“I remember we had a long debate about whether or not to pick a second spinner for the semi-final due to the conditions, but we decided against it and backed our seam attack, with Ryan Watson to provide the spin option.” Captain Craig Wright said.
Paul Hoffman proved to be the hero with the ball - claiming remarkable figures of 5/5 - as Kenya were bowled out for 95, “I remember getting a little bit of outswing during that spell. It was when I got the ball to seam back a touch I got my wickets.
The batsmen were playing for the swing and I just bowled stump to stump LBW's and bowled. I was just surprised that I got the ball to swing, especially in the UAE!” he said.
A sparkling 133 from a youthful Kyle Coetzer and another half century by Ryan Watson, along with a carefully crafted 93 from Colin ‘Floppy’ Smith, put victory firmly in Scotland’s sights, as only a winning draw was required to progress to the final.
“I remember in the second Kenyan innings, we had the luxury of giving our seam bowlers a rest because we had sealed our place in the final and the heat was intense.” Wright explained.
And so the traveling Scots wrapped up the win as the final day came to a close with Kenya on 163/4, ensuring Scotland’s place in the final, as their 19 points outclassed the Kenyans 10.5.
“We had a good mix of experience and youth in that team, and we were confident going into that final against Canada.” Wright continued.
“I remember we were a bit surprised when Canada won the toss and elected to bat first, as there was a little bit of dew around and we all anticipated the wicket to get harder and faster as the sun dried out the wicket.” explained Gavin Hamilton.
Hamilton’s hunch was spot on. Another top spell of bowling by John Blain and Asim Butt, backed up by Hoffmann, Watson and Wright, helped blast out the Canadians for just 101 in 41.1 overs.
John Blain, who claimed the early wicket of Asif Mulla in his first over, helped set the tone and would eventually see the tall seam bowler claim the Man of the Match award, “My second innings performance complimented the wickets I picked up first when I bowled a fuller length – a stark contrast to how I bowled in the second innings. I was very proud to receive the award, especially in that heat and facing those tough conditions as a bowler.” said Blain.
Scotland responded with a declared score of 287/8, as Lockhart (64) and Hamilton (115) turned the screw on their opponents. “I remember us kicking on nicely and the confidence we had through the side, it was a fantastic performance and fond memories for me - we were a close unit and enjoyed each other’s company.” Hamilton said after recalling the campaign.
The Canadians couldn’t muster up a response, as they were comprehensively bowled out once again, this time for 93. The bowling of Blain and Butt took four wickets apiece, giving Scotland the win by an innings and 84 runs.
“Asim and Blainey were outstanding in the final and for us, to reduce Canada to 28/8 in the second innings gave us one of those rare situations where we knew that the trophy was in the bag and you can start to enjoy the moment.
I remember the Flower of Scotland in the old dressing rooms in Sharjah was one, probably only matched by the one in January [after we qualified in New Zealand], of the loudest I’d been involved in - it was a belter” Wright recollects.
Hoffmann recalls, “The best times in cricket is when you can all celebrate as a team, have a few drinks and unwind. We were all good mates, so going out and celebrating together that night was the perfect way to end a great season.”
The party carried on for several days in true Scottish style as the team arrived back home with the Intercontinental Cup Trophy. It was clear that Scotland’s success was very much a team effort, but there were also some outstanding individual performances. Fraser Watts finished as the tournaments leading run-scorer with 413 runs, well aided by Dougie Lockhart, Ryan Watson, Kyle Coetzer and Gavin Hamilton, while the potent seam attack were dismantling teams cheaply to complement the batsmen.
This wouldn’t be the end of this team’s success, though. The following summer they would claim the ICC Trophy in Ireland, as Scotland continued to dominate the Associate world.