Scotland 2019 Season Review

Results Summary:

ODIs:     P 9          W 4        L 5          T 0          N/R 3

T20Is:    P 15        W 9        L 6          T 0          N/R 0

On the back of a stellar 2018, beating England in and ODI for the first time and missing on the 2019 World Cup only at the hands of a dodgy umpiring decision and the rain, Scotland’s 2019 was very much a comedown from such a high, and has put their status as the leading associate under threat.

Scotland started their year in Oman in February as part of the T20I Quadrangular series with Ireland, Netherlands and the hosts. Favourites to win outright, they stumbled in their first game against the Dutch, failing to post a strong total despite a 50 from Callum MacLeod. After the Irish got off to a flyer in game 2, Mark Watt took the game by the horns with 3-26 to restrict Ireland to 180. George Munsey and Captain Kyle Coetzer did the rest, laying a platform for a 6-wicket win. They then brushed aside Oman, and with Ireland beating the Netherlands, it was enough to give Scotland the trophy on NRR.

Scotland then took on Oman in a 3-match List A series. The first game saw Scotland’s seamers rout Oman, bowling them out for 24, a record low total in an international list A fixture. Needless to say, Scotland won comfortably, taking only 22 balls to chase down the target. The following day, Oman fought back and made 248/8, and Scotland were bowled out for 155. Game on. The decider looked to be going Oman’s way as well, Scotland restricted to 160/3 at the 40 over mark. Cue George Munsey, who walloped a 43 ball 96 including 9 sixes to help Scotland post 303/5. That turned out to be just enough, as Oman ended 16 runs short of the target.

Scotland’s home summer was one of two halves. The first half saw Afghanistan and Sri Lanka visit in May as part of their World Cup preparations, each for a 2-match ODI series. The first match against Afghanistan was washed out, but in the 2nd game Scotland raised an imposing 325/7 following a Callum MacLeod century. Scotland looked ahead for most of the chase, but just as the game reached its climax, the rain came down with Afghanistan 2 runs ahead on DLS.

Much like the Afghanistan series, the first ODI against Sri Lanka was washed out. In the 2nd ODI, Scotland fought back after a poor start, but Sri Lanka posted a solid 322/8. Despite a good start to the chase Scotland fell away and when rain became too heavy after 27 overs, Scotland were 132/3 and 33 behind on DLS. When the rain cleared, the revised target was 103 from the remaining 7 overs. Despite some fireworks from Munsey, Scotland never came close.

Once the world cup had passed, Scotland had the honour of opening up the new qualification pathway for the 2023 World Cup by hosting the first leg of Cricket World Cup League 2, a tri-series against Oman and Papua New Guinea in August. The Scots, perhaps a little stunned by the cancellation of the Euro T20 Slam earlier in the week, stumbled in their first game against Oman, being bowled out for 168 on a slow surface and not making inroads in the Omani batting line up. They took their first win after squeezing past PNG by 3 wickets in a chase of 206, built around a 96 from captain Kyle Coetzer. Game 3 saw them return to form by blasting out Oman for 138 to win by 85 runs, including a breakthrough performance for Hamza Tahir who took 5-38. Finally, they beat PNG by 38 runs to claim the series and top the table.

In the absence of the ET20S, Scotland travelled to Dublin for a tri-series with Ireland and the Netherlands. The Saltire’s first game against the Nethelands saw a record breaking batting performance, posting 252/3 in 20 overs, the 6th highest innings total ever in T20Is. The innings also saw the 3rd highest partnership in T20I history between Coetzer and Munsey, making 200 together. Munsey went after individual records too, his 127* from 56 balls being the highest score for a Scot in T20s, as well as the 5th fastest T20I century off 41 balls, and the 2nd most sixes in a T20I innings. In reply, the Dutch fell a mighty 56 runs short.

They couldn’t quite repeat it the following day, however. Despite posting 193/7 in 20 overs, hosts Ireland knocked off the total with 14 balls to spare. Game 3 then saw the Scots skittle the Dutch for 123, Hamza Tahir taking 4-30 and Scotland winning by 6 wickets. In the final game, which would decide the series between Scotland and Ireland, Scotland were set 187 to win. With 4 overs to go, the Scots were 154/2, needing 33 to win and Richie Berrington hitting the ball cleanly. However the game was turned on it’s head with 3 wickets in quick succession, leaving Scotland needing 15 off the final over, and then 4 off the last ball. A missed scoop-shot of the last ball meant Ireland took the game by 1 run and the series with them.

Scotland’s prep for the T20 World Cup Qualifier saw them travel to South Africa when just about everyone else prepared in the middle-east. They won both games against the Dolphins, before moving on to the UAE, where they lost their opening warm up game against the UAE and beat Ireland by 1 run in the second.

Scotland’s group contained Netherlands, PNG, Namibia, Singapore, Kenya and Bermuda. Starting the tournament as the highest ranked team, the Saltire’s should have been expected to win the bulk of their games and if they didn’t win the group, finish a close 2nd. However, they suffered a ‘shock’ defeat in the first game at the hands of tournament debutants Singapore. Off to a flyer thanks to Munsey, at 70/0 in the 8th over Scotland looked to be well on track to chase 169. Singapore pulled it back with regular wickets, but Scotland only needed 8 from the last with MacLeod in on 44. Losing 3 wickets in 4 balls, Scotland lost by 2 runs.

Normality was restored with a 31-run win over Kenya, even if the 170 total Scotland posted looked sub-par halfway through the Kenya chase. Scotland then squeezed past PNG, Josh Davey dismissing both set batsmen in the first two balls of the final over to defend 146. They played their 4th game against Namibia the day after, and without captain Coetzer due to dehydration. Namibia put up a solid 159/6, and Scotland were in the chase until a flurry of wickets reduced them from 67/2 to 107/8, eventually losing by 24 runs. The pressure was squarely back on Scotland.

After that, all of Scotland’s games were in the main stadium. Firstly, against Bermuda, where MacLeod ballistics allowed Scotland to raise their first 200+ total of the tournament. Bermuda fell a long way short. Going into their final game against the Netherlands, Scotland were guaranteed of a playoff spot, but could not top the group and qualify automatically. Defeat, however, would put them in a do or die playoff. Scotland could only raise 130/8 batting first, and the Dutch knocked it off with ease. 3 wins and 3 losses in the group stage, Scotland were offered one chance to save their campaign.

In their eliminator playoff against the UAE, Scotland batted first and immediately took the game by the horns. Munsey produced a barrage of sweepshots and 5 sixed in his 65, whilst Berrington made 48 of only 18 balls as Scotland powered to 198/6. The bowlers picked up where the batsmen left off, Sharif and Davey reducing the Sultanate to 12/2, before they were bowled out for 108. Scotland had booked their place in the World Cup, even if they had to go the long way ‘round. They finished the campaign by easing past Oman for 5th place.

Scotland’s final test of the year saw them return to the UAE at the start of December for a CWCL2 tri-series against the USA and the hosts. Scotland being Scotland, they were remarkably followed by the weather, with heavy rains hitting the Emirates during the week in question. Despite Sharif knocking over Xavier Marshall’s stumps first ball of the match, the USA were able to raise 282/8 in their first encounter. Scotland’s chase looked under control, 112/2 at the midway point, but regular wickets in the second half of the chase and a collapse of the tail saw Scotland all out for 247.

Their second match, against the UAE was completely washed out. When they returned the two days later to take on the USA for the second time, their performed more strongly, restricting the USA to 245/9. Despite only MacLeod surpassing 50, Scotland managed the chase well to win by 4 wickets. Their final game against the UAE saw Cross and Coetzer get Scotland off to a great start with a 138 partnership, and the two going on to make 53 and 95 respectively. No one else was able to back that up and the Scots were bowled out for a sub-par 220. The UAE made light work of the chase, taking the game by 7 wickets with 5 overs to spare.

Scotland’s year has not lived up to the level they set in 2018 when the beat England. Whilst it’s very easy to say that the field in associate T20 cricket is highly competitive, the billing that the Scot’s are the leading side at this level has not been fulfilled this year. Three defeats in the group stages of the T20WCQ and 3 defeats in their first two legs of CWCL2 puts the tag in question…

One of Scotland’s perceived strengths in both formats is their batting. There is plenty of talent in that batting line up and they have all shown it but often it has come on very good batting surfaces. Move them away onto slower tracks, especially the kinds we’ve seen in CWCL2 so far, and they haven’t been able to produce runs as freely. It could continue to cost them in away series and may encourage them to move home series to Scotland’s faster tracks, in particular The Grange.

Scotland finish the year 2nd in CWCL2, 3 points behind leaders USA. 2020 sees them travel to the States in March to resume their competition with the USA and UAE. They will also travel to Namibia in April for a CWCL2 series, the third team being Nepal, before hosting both in Scotland in June/July.

Scotland’s flagship games for 2020 see them play host to New Zealand and Australia. They host the former of the two for an ODI and a T20I as the Kiwi’s kick off their European tour in Edinburgh. It’s will be the first time Scotland have hosted New Zealand since the 1999 World Cup. Australia will visit for a T20I on the 29th of June.

Scotland will close out their year with the T20 World Cup, where they play Bangladesh, the Netherlands and Namibia in Hobart in the first round but will have a keen eye on a place in the Super 12s.

There was also a rumoured ODI against England at Lord’s, though whether talks continue about this is unclear. A game against England would be another boost to the profile of Scottish Cricket, especially with the TV coverage that comes with it. On a related note, the deal between Cricket Scotland and the ECB containing the currently unused TV rights for Scottish cricket expires in 2020. It means Scottish home internationals against teams other that England could have a TV broadcast as soon as 2021, which would be a boost to CS’ budget and profile.

Published by Tom Grunshaw

I periodically post things about cricket

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