Scotland 371-5 (C MacLeod 140*, A Rashid 2 for 72) beat England 365 (J Bairstow 105, M Watt 3 for 55) by 6 runs
Respect. From press, television and radio through to the players themselves, there was no escaping the word throughout the build-up to the one-off ODI between Scotland and England at The Grange. The last time England visited, in 2014, we had heard the same; of how the visitors appreciated the danger posed by their northern neighbours, of how the hosts, in turn, would go out there with nothing to lose and give it their best shot. Despite Michael Leask’s memorable cameo Scotland subsided to defeat in Aberdeen that day, once again confirming England’s superiority together with that most pertinent of sporting facts: respect is one thing, but genuine belief that an upset can happen – on either side – is quite another.
From this point on, though, it will be different.
Scotland redefined their relationship with England today. Their six-run win over the ICC’s number one ranked side in ODI cricket sent a signal not only to their oldest rivals but to the entire cricketing world. Gone are the days of near-misses, of plucky Scots and unrewarded Braveheart spirit. This is a new Scotland and, after the biggest win in their history, everyone knows it.
What a way for their captain to mark his fiftieth ODI appearance. Kyle Coetzer had promised a repeat of the ‘no fear’ brand of cricket his side had displayed throughout the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, and he and opening partner Matthew Cross came out of the blocks hard against the new-ball pairing of Mark Wood and David Willey. Their partnership of 103 beat Scotland’s previous record for any wicket against England, and by the time the first wicket fell, that of the skipper after an imperious 44-ball half century, the run-rate was already sitting at above seven per over.
Although Cross (48) followed, Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington took on their mantle with relish. Moeen Ali came in for harsh treatment in the 29th as MacLeod, using his sweep to fine effect once more, struck a one-bounce four before slog-sweeping onto the roof of the tennis courts for six. Berrington (39) departed a few balls later, caught by Joe Root as he attempted to hit Liam Plunkett over the top, but with George Munsey showing his confidence as he got off the mark with the first of three reverse-sweeps for four, Scotland’s stride was barely broken.
Munsey’s first ODI fifty arrived in the 44th over before MacLeod put the finishing touches onto what had been a dominant century. Scored off only 70 balls and featuring ten fours and two sixes, MacLeod simultaneously became Scotland’s fastest-ever centurion and their first ever against the Auld Enemy as he saw his side to their highest-ever total in an ODI. By the time Scotland’s innings closed at 371-5 the team had rattled up forty-five boundaries and eight sixes. It was an astounding performance.
That Scotland’s eventual victory was secured despite a formidable fightback by England made it all the more impressive. Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow made a blistering start, all fast hands and effortless timing, with the Yorkshireman racing to a fifty in only 27 balls via back-to-back sixes. England’s team hundred arrived off only 31 more, and as yet another maximum came off Bairstow’s blade England’s record for their fastest-ever ODI century seemed under threat, too.
It wasn’t to be for Bairstow, but his 54-ball knock, featuring twelve fours and six sixes, was his third in consecutive ODIs. When his departure came, however, caught by Munsey off the bowling of Berrington, England’s early assault had been weathered, and with Root (29) run out and Morgan (20) and Hales (52) falling to successive deliveries soon after, Scotland sensed their opportunity.
The fall of Moeen Ali (46) in the 46th proved to be the tipping point as, with 25 still required, he holed out to Munsey to give Mark Watt a third wicket. Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett edged their side closer before Rashid (5) was run out by Michael Leask, and as Safyaan Sharif trapped Mark Wood (1) in front to confirm the win by the narrowest of margins, The Grange, and Scottish cricket, erupted into wild celebration.
It had been a day like no other. For the entire cricketing community, it will be remembered.