Batsman Oli Hairs was on fire as Scotland A completed their second and third wins of the week over the Scotland Performance Academy yesterday.
Left hander Hairs, who has recently been playing his club cricket for Newcastle just over the border, is known in Scottish cricketing circles for his big hitting when he gets his eye in – and it certainly was at Portgower Place in Edinburgh on Thursday.
In the first of the T16s, he smashed 114 off just 33 balls opening the batting at the home of Grange and in the second match, coming in at five, he made 68 not out from 25 balls.
During the day he hit 18 sixes and 12 fours as the A side completed wins by 125 runs via DLS and by 139 runs.
The results came hot on the heels of a five wicket triumph for the A side on the same ground on Tuesday in a 50-over-a-side match, but given the lack of competitive cricket there has been this summer it was just great to see a large number of the best male cricketers in Scotland back out there competing.
Players who were involved in these two matches from both sides will now hope to be involved in the Regional Series for the Highlanders, Knights and Warriors which runs from September 13 to 27.
Certainly some performances will have given Scotland head coach Shane Burger food for thought as he continues to build a deeper player pool that is competing for national honours in white ball cricket.
Toby Bailey, the national performance coach at Cricket Scotland, said of the Performance Academy’s showings during the week: “The results may not have been what the team were looking for, but for me it was just great to see the guys out there playing cricket again.
“They have been champing at the bit to get games under their belts as a Performance Academy and while there was some obvious rustiness there it showed them where they can improve going forward and this is a exciting group of cricketers.
“It has been amazing to see their work ethic in recent months at the performance centre at Edinburgh Napier University and they have helped each other through the tough times with no cricket and emerged from the experience stronger as a result.”
In the first match between the two sides on Tuesday, the Performance Academy won the toss and decided to bat first.
When captain Fin McCreath, who has been playing recently for Benwell Hill in the north east of England, and Rory Johnston, who has been turning out for Watsonians in mini 40-over-a-side and T16 leagues in Edinburgh, put on 63 for the first wicket in quick time it looked like a great decision.
However, when Johnston was bowled by Adrian Neill for 30 it sparked nerves in the Performance Academy ranks as the Scotland A bowling attack found their rhythm.
Taimoor Ahmad was caught by Michael Leask off the bowling of Gavin Main for 5 and when McCreath (31), Ben Davidson (4) and wicketkeeper Tom Mackintosh (3) followed – all to Chris Greaves – the Performance Academy had slumped to 89-5.
Soon after Jasper Davidson became Main’s second victim, caught behind by Craig Wallace for 2, so James Dickinson and Mo Ghaffar had to rebuild things.
They took their side up to 118 off 19 overs before Dickinson was out LBW to fellow spinner Leask for 17.
Although Kess Sajjad, who played for Scotland under-19s last year, battled for 15 batting at number 10, he was out LBW to Scotland A captain Dylan Budge as the Performance Academy were all out for 143 in 27 overs.
Greaves’ 3-18 were impressive figures.
The Performance Academy needed wickets quickly in the ‘second half’ to be in with any chance of defending their total and in the second over McCreath bowled Angus Guy, last year’s under-19s skipper, for 1.
That gave them a glimmer of hope, but Mark Watt had other ideas.
The Heriot’s captain made 51 not out from 61 balls and Hairs made 37 from 22 balls as they won by five wickets.
Ahmad bowled well with 2-20 for the Performance Academy while Ghaffar and Sajjad took wickets in defeat too.
Fast forward to Thursday and in game one of the day the A side posted a daunting 206-4 batting first in an innings cut to 13.1 overs due to rain.
Leask was the main foil for Hairs with 39 which included four sixes and two fours while Wallace made 25 not out from 13 balls.
Ghaffar took 2-30 while Rory Hanley and Dickinson also took scalps for the Performance Academy.
Ali Evans and Neill then took 4-20 and 2-1 respectively to help the A side bowl their opponents out for 86.
Coming in at number 10 in the order, Liam Naylor showed a bit of lower order grit to top score with 20 from 14 balls in defeat.
In the second T16, the Performance Academy bowling attack got off to a good start.
Hanley had Guy (0) and Budge (7) caught by Mackintosh and Chris McBride respectively to leave the A team on 16-2.
Half centuries from Wallace (57 from 33 balls) and Leask (51 from 21 balls) got their side back on track before the 68 not out previously mentioned by Hairs and 13 not out by Greaves.
That meant they posted 212-4 from 16 overs and the Performance Academy had to try and go about their second massive chase of the day.
Main made sure it was a non-starter by taking four top order wickets and, with four other bowlers chipping in with scalps, the Performance Academy limped to 73 all out.
Scorecards (click to view)