Scotland opened their Division 2 Twenty20 hosting duties by taking on the United Arab Emirates at Bannockburn with our captain Art Hamilton winning the toss and having no hesitation sending the opposition in on the flat track and we were reasonably happy to have kept them to 4-163 off their 20 overs, fast bowler Ken Alexander the best of our bowlers with 2-25. Opener Roy Clouston and wicket keeper Hamish Fleming put on a 73 run opening stand putting us in a good position at the half way mark of the run chase but the UAE bowlers proved difficult to get away and despite losing just 3 wickets we only scored the winning runs with a single ball to spare for a hard fought 7 wicket victory. Solid innings from all of our top 4 but Clouston top scored with 49.
Sri Lanka who were sitting on top of the table were next up in game 2, they won the toss and sent us in on a hard track and had us in real trouble early at 4-34 with their pace bowlers destroying our top order, thankfully Beau Waters was able to play a solid innings of 47 before being run out then some late hitting by Pat Dewer and Aidan Johnstone got us to 6-137 but that was never going to be enough in the conditions. Sri Lanka chasing down the target with 23 balls to spare and 7 wickets in hand, spin bowling all rounder Aidan Johnstone with 1-14 our best in a defeat that took us from second on the table to fifth and now with the worst run rate in the group.
Top of the table Bangladesh were our opponent in game 3, they won the toss and chose to bat on the hard track and once again we were happy enough to keep them to 6-169 in their allotted time at the crease, Al Grant our best bowler with 2-25. After an explosive start Scotland found themselves at 2-28 in just 3 overs before an outstanding third wicket partnership of 122 off just 76 balls between Alex Coutts and Chris Dow knocked off the bulk of the runs and the total was reached with 6 wickets in hand and 3.2 overs to spare. Dow top scored with 68 from just 41 balls and smashed six 4’s and two 6’s with Coutts scoring 57 off 38 with five 4’s and a 6. This win took us back to third place on the table with two games to play.
For the third game in a row Scotland found themselves playing the team sitting at the top of the table, this time the challenge ahead of us was South Africa. Our captain Ian Gatward won the toss and sent the Proteas in on the flat wicket and opener Jack Darling got them off to a flyer scoring 58 off 36 with three 4’s and three 6’s. Scotland’s spinners brought us back into the game as the match progressed, all of them taking wickets with Kyle Aitchison our best taking 2-24 as South Africa scored 5-169. Once again opener Roy Clouston was the mainstay in the run chase top scoring with 73 off 54 balls with eight 4’s and a 6, all our top order got handy scores before Pat Dewer smashed 22 off 11 timing his run perfectly to snatch victory with just 2 balls to go. This was a significant win for our lads as it took us back to the top of the table and 2 points clear of both Sri Lanka and South Africa with just one game to go and in the process ticking off our first goal of the week by scoring enough points to keep us safe from relegation.
The equation in the final game of the tour was simple for Scotland, beat Ireland and we win the title and gain promotion back to division 1. Unfortunately we chose the worst possible time to underperform with our two biggest guns failing to fire, opener Alex Coutts with just 1 run off 3 balls before being bowled and Beau Waters caught behind for 3 off 8 balls. Most of our other batsmen made starts but never really went on with it leaving it up to fast bowler Ken Alexander to throw the bat at the death scoring 28* off 16 balls to be our top scorer in the lacklustre total of 7-133. Although the total was well below par our bowlers fought the game out making scoring difficult but a lack of wickets saw Ireland reach the target with 9 balls to spare for a 7 wicket win. This result put Ireland ahead of us in first place as we dropped to second and waited nervously for the other results to roll in but it was not to be with both Sri Lanka and South Africa winning their games it would drop us back to fourth.
We were in a great position to win this title but let it slip in the final game and that is disappointing. We were prepared to chase down any total that was set this week and our batsmen timed their run chases to perfection in our 3 wins and our bowlers were very disciplined all week on batsmen friendly pitches conceding only 8 extras in 5 games. We managed to get games into 5 fast bowlers to help build their experience and give us a more balanced attack for future tours and had some quality young players with bright futures in this squad too. While we weren’t able to add to our trophy cabinet this week we will remain in division 2 for next seasons T20 tour and we have managed to gather enough points this week to qualify for the end of season Twenty20 World Cup ranked 7th so that was another long term goal we can tick off. Three wins from 5 games was a solid tour but just one more victory would have seen us pinch the title but full credit to our opponents on this tour particularly Sri Lanka and Ireland who managed to beat us despite us having both teams covered in the ratings and congratulations to both Sri Lanka on their title and South Africa on their promotion back to division 1.
A summary of the squads performance for the division 2 Twenty20 tour.
Roy Clouston : Our opening batsman was our top scorer in the tournament with 131 runs @ 43.67 from three games and set up two of our wins with scores of 49 and 73 against UAE and South Africa.
Alex Coutts : 93 runs from 4 innings at an average of 31, scored 57 in a 122 run partnership with Chris Dow in our victory over Bangladesh in his final tour for Scotland.
Murdo Dewer : Made 52 runs @ 26 from 3 innings and scored at 123.81 strike rate, mainly used in the middle order so time at the crease was limited.
Pat Dewer : 4 matches, 3 innings, 1 not out, 67 runs @ 33.5 and a strike rate of 134, top score of 32 off 24 against South Africa. Batted at 6 in 3 games and got us some quick runs when they were required. 1 catch.
Chris Dow : 115 runs from 4 innings @ 28.75 top score of 68 in a 122 run partnership with Alex Coutts in our win against Bangladesh and two other scores over 20.
Al Kelly : Just 33 runs @ 33 from 3 innings with 2 not outs, something of a lucky charm as he played in all 3 of our victories.
Beau Waters : Scored good runs in 3 of his 4 games. 114 runs @ 28.5 from 4 innings and a top score of 47 in our loss to Sri Lanka. 1 catch.
Hamish Fleming : Used as an opening batsman in all three games he played and scored at better than a run a ball getting us off to fast starts. 76 runs @ 25.33. 1 catch.
Ian Gatward : Unfortunately Gatt has done about as much for Scottish youth cricket on this tour as Barry Manilow has done for cage fighting, just 5 runs from 2 innings and 1 catch.
All Rounders :
Rod Angus : 2 games for 2 wickets with a best of 2-38 in the win against Bangladesh.
Art Hamilton : Our best bowler on paper but games are won out on the ground, took 2-43 in the Bangladesh win but failed to take a wicket in 2 other games, finishing the tournament with figures of 2-104 from 3 games, 1 innings of 11 off 9 against Ireland.
Aidan Johnstone : 2 wickets in 2 games, had a great game against Sri Lanka with 27* off 21 and took 1-14 plus a catch, unfortunately for us that game was a loss but not through any fault of his own.
Kyle Aitchison : Just 2 wickets in 3 games from our best leg spinner with a best of 2-24 against South Africa but did play in all 3 of our wins.
Ken Alexander : Our most experienced pace bowler started well with 2-25 and 1-24 against UAE and Sri Lanka but failed to take a wicket against South Africa or Ireland but smashed 28* off 16 in his only appearance at the crease.
Doug Black : The young tear away quick took wickets in all 3 matches he played in with a best of 2-17 in the Ireland game, 4-75 for the tour and was our most economical bowler, looks to have a bright future.
Cathal Dundas : Just 1 wicket from 2 games from the teenage leg spinner with a best of 1-28 in the win against South Africa but also had 2 stumping chances missed in the same game. 1 catch.
Al Grant : Took wickets in all 3 games he played in with a best of 2-25 in the win against Bangladesh, 4-86 for the tournament, a solid effort.
Gerald Hewett : Just 1 wicket in 3 games, took 1-26 in the opening game against UAE. 1 catch.
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