“It must be out – it is out! Scotland have done it!”
Exactly one year ago, Scottish cricket enjoyed its greatest-ever day, writes Jake Perry. The national side’s momentous win over England, then the ICC’s number one ranked team in ODI cricket, not only redefined the future relationship between the two – a deal of thinking again was no doubt taking place as Eoin Morgan’s men journeyed homeward – but the place of the Scottish game within the wider narrative of international cricket as well. Over the previous year, the world had watched with interest as Scotland defeated first Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe then Afghanistan; here, though, was a result which elevated their status to a different level entirely. Not only could this team hold its own against anyone in the world, it could come out on top, too.
While the result provided further evidence of Scotland’s rapid progress since the 2016 World T20, its immediate aftermath offered a succinct illustration of the wider challenge faced by Associate nations as well. In the time it took England to complete the five-nil trouncing of Australia which served as their warm-up for the visit of India, the seven matches which constituted the remainder of Scotland’s international summer had already been played. The hiatus in their fixture calendar would last for 252 days; a further 82 would pass before the Scots had the chance to play their next ODI against Full Member opposition.
Still, though, Scotland made the most of their opportunities. February’s tour of Oman ended with victories in both the T20I Quadrangular – a tournament which also brought the scalp of another Test-playing nation in the form of Ireland – and the fifty-over series against the hosts which followed. It was, however, the May internationals which were most keenly anticipated as Scotland, now with Shane Burger at the helm, faced Afghanistan and Sri Lanka in two ODI double-headers at The Grange. In the event it was the late spring weather which held the strongest hand as the first matches of each pair were lost to rain – the first international no-results in Scotland since 2016 – whilst the others ended in narrow defeats on DLS.
That it was exasperation rather than disappointment which coloured the camp after those results provides a further indication of just how far this Scotland team has travelled. While Afghanistan had inched ahead in the DLS calculations by the time the players were forced from the field, the visitors still required 57 from the 31 deliveries which remained in the game; against Sri Lanka, meanwhile, the pacing of Scotland’s innings was completely skewed by having to chase a rain-revised target of 103 from seven overs. Both matches could still have been lost, of course, but that the Scots were denied the chance to play them both to their proper conclusion was frustrating in the extreme.
There will, though, be other opportunities. The launch of CWC League Two in August will go a long way towards addressing the issues around fixtures which have for so long checked the progress of the team, while Cricket Scotland will continue its drive towards the Full Member status which is the ambition of all those involved in the Scottish game. Scotland’s victory over England was many things – a famous day, an historic one, but, assuredly, not a one-off. When we look back again in a few years’ time, it may well be that that day at The Grange was just a taste of things to come.
The game will be remembered by all 11 players who were involved for Scotland, but let’s just take a snapshot of what the game did for a couple of members of the group, writes Gary Heatly.
Afterwards Mark Watt – the youngest member of the team – revealed how it felt to go from his bowling being hit so far that the ball went over a fish and chip van to being the catch of the day.
With opening batsman Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow clattering the ball to all parts of the ground early on as England replied to the Scots’ target of 371-5, things were looking bleak for the hosts.
However, they rallied and spinner Watt, then 21, was the man to get the key first wicket of Roy caught and bowled.
He then went on to get two more wickets in the dramatic win to finish with 3-55 and said: “I think the caught and bowled I had to get out Jason Roy is up there with my best ever wickets.
“I could see the ball coming back to me and knew the catch was on, but my whole world stood still for a few seconds, but I managed to hold on and that was a big moment.”
Since then Watt has played for Lancashire and is now on the books at Derbyshire as his career continues to progress.
And just last week skipper Kyle Coetzer, 35, was awarded an MBE.
It caps an amazing 12 months for him and prior to Christmas when he was in Nepal for a T20 event, the man who scored 58 from 49 balls versus England said: “I will get home from Nepal just before Christmas and while I am up in Aberdeen for the festivities, I will try my best to watch the highlights of that game over and over via DVD.
“So much has happened since then that perhaps you don’t take it all in, but come Christmas I will be smiling and remembering that amazing day in Edinburgh. I get goosebumps just talking about it.
“It was such an amazing day for everyone that is involved in Scottish cricket and the feeling at the end was just amazing.”
So, what is next for Scotland?
Well, George Munsey who made 55 from 51 balls against England, believes the future is bright under head coach Shane Burger following May’s Summer Internationals, stating “this group of players is very exciting and we have plenty to build on”.
Burger now has time to refocus with his squad ahead of Cricket World Cup League Two fixtures against Oman and PNG in Aberdeen in August.
“We have all enjoyed getting to know Shane and working with him over the last few weeks,” Munsey, now 26, stated.
“It has been a change for us all, but we have quite a lot of experience in the group despite quite a young age profile and we are all determined to keep working together to get better.
“As I have said before, this group of players is very exciting and we have plenty to build on.
“It is up to us all now to go away and keep playing well for clubs, regions or wherever and really build up to the matches in August with a spring in our step.”