Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Grange

June 1st 2003

Scottish Saltires v Hampshire Hawks

My interest in cricket generally extends to a vague supporting of whichever country happens to be playing England at the time – immature, I know, but it is all matter of genetics.  

For a brief period, however, I followed the fortunes of the freshly re-branded Scottish Saltires who had in 2003, quite inexplicably, been invited to join the ECB National Cricket League.  The Grange cricket ground, which the Saltires would call home, lay about a mile from my place of work, so it was easy enough to take a half-day off and toddle along to see how our lads were doing. 

Scotland had somehow managed to persuade Indian Rahul Dravid, then one of the leading players in the world to sign up for a three month stint beginning in June – Goodness Me, even I had heard of him.  Scotland actually began their campaign in May with surprising wins at both Durham and Lancashire, leading some wit to opine Dravid may struggle to get a place in the side! 

Entrance to The Grange cricket ground.

The pavilion at The Grange, originally built in 1894,
it enjoyed an extensive restoration in 1998.

The first match I saw at the Grange was in the pre-Dravid days, a Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy match against Somerset.  Like most folks who are used to seeing cricket on TV, I guess, the first time I watched it in the flesh as it were, I was amazed by (a) how far apart the two sets of wickets are and (b) how fast the bowler can shift the ball.  Scotland toiled away to a total of 138, which I thought looked reasonably respectable. 

But after a break for lunch, out onto the crease stepped the formidable Marcus Trescothick, who just bashed the ball with apparent ease to all corners of the ground.  I think he pretty much chased down the Scottish score single handed.  Oh Dear, I thought, Scotland seem utterly out of their depth at this level.  But then did not the same Scotland side defeat the same Somerset side on the same ground, two days later in a league match!!  Cricket really is a strange game.

Hampshire's James Hamblin and Lawrence Prittipaul.

The game from which the pictures and programme comes from was an ECB National Cricket (i.e. Sunday) League match versus Hampshire Hawks; the crowd (around 2,000) being significantly larger for this one.  This was, I think Rahul Dravid’s debut, but he was dismissed for only 25 runs as Scotland lost by 6 wickets.  

At one point, during the Hampshire innings when Dravid was fielding out near the boundary line, a girl with a marker pen trotted on to the pitch to request an autograph from the great man.  Having no paper, she pulled down the top of her t-shirt looking to have her cleavage autographed.  The dignified Dravid declined, looking baffled and embarrassed in equal measure – he was on his honeymoon, after all.
Panorama of The Grange, Edinburgh looking south.


Scotland v Zimbabwe

15th June 2017

First ODI, The Grange, Edinburgh

And with (what seemed to my untutored eyes anyway) a bit of help from Messrs Duckworth, Lewis and Stern, Scotland achieved their first ever win over a test nation with this ODI defeat of Zimbabwe.

Scotland had begun the business at a snail's pace it seemed, managing to mine just three runs from the opening three overs.  Even to someone like myself with only a rudimentary grasp on arithmetic, one run an over looked unlikely to trouble our African friends.  But after Matthew Cross had hit the first 4 in the fifth over, and Kyle Coetzer the first 6 in the seventh, Scotland moved on to 82 by the end of the 13th over.  
Coetzer reached his century off 88 balls, eventually being dismissed for 109.  Scotland appeared to get a bit bogged down after this setback, but Craig Wallace's love of a reverse sweep got the scoreboard ticking over once more.  The home side batted out their 50 overs, posting a remarkably respectable looking total of 317.

Zimbabwe opened their innings requiring a run rate around 6.5, but by the end of the 20th  over this had slipped to just over 7, and they had shipped three wickets in the process.  

When the rains came came Zimbabwe were clearly in a bit of bother on 107/4; their cause not being subsequently helped by their target being revised only marginally down to 299 i.e. still requiring 192 from the remaining (reduced) 21.3 overs.    But the free scoring Sean Williams was still there, and there was a huge cheer from the Scotland lads as he finally fell on 70, with the visitors on 171.  

Malcolm Waller put up a bit of a fight, bashing at least two out of the ground, but his fine 92 notwithstanding, the visitors still found their required run-rate inexorably climbing, until we reached the climax whereby a whopping 27 runs were required from the last 9 balls, with Zimbabwe having just one wicket remaining.  

The match ending when Tendai Chatara skied one into the waiting hands of Chris Sole.

Scotland had had last enjoyed their first win over a test playing nation, but in true Caledonia fashion wasted the opportunity to build upon the positive publicity, by losing the second match in the series – in front of a far bigger crowd on the following Saturday, by six wickets.  

And so ended Scotland cricket side's season – a mere 10 day period in June. 


Scotland v Pakistan

12th June 2018

First T20, The Grange, Edinburgh

After the Victory-over-England euphoria of two days earlier it was, perhaps inevitably, back to earth with a crash for the Scotland cricket side, losing this T20 match to the youthful touring Pakistanis by 48 runs.

And yet, for two periods during proceedings, I felt Scotland looked to be well in this match.  Some tight bowling, particularly from Alasdair Evans (who took three wickets), held the Pakistan batsmen in reasonable check during the first 15 overs, suppressing the visitors' run rate down to single figures.

But then came those calamitous 16th and 17th overs as Hazma Tahir and then Mark Watt each shipped 20 runs; and Pakistan seemingly effortlessly boosted their tally from 124/3 to 164/3.  The aforementioned Evans dropped in to steady the ship a touch, but Safraz Ahmed continued to torture the unhappy Tahir, adding 18 runs off the final four balls of the innings to help take his side's total to 203.

Scotland were thus set a target of 204 to win, and after five overs had accumulated a promising-looking 44 for no wicket.  But George Munsey was caught next ball, having made 25, and thereafter Scotland appeared to get mired down in the Pakistan bowling.   Zeros and singles became the norm, as the run rate dipped alarmingly, and the winning post drifted further and further out of sight.

There was no “that's the match lost now” moment, but rather the realisation dawned slowly but inexorably.  Rather like the real dawn, I suppose.

Once the pressure was off, so to speak, Murray Leask enjoyed a spell of productive, if slightly reckless, bashing, hitting three 4s and pair of 6s in an unbeaten 38.  But by that point his team were already beaten.

Scotland v Pakistan - June 2018

Scotland v Pakistan - June 2018

We truly live in enlightened times, when a man can pull his wire at a sporting event in broad daylight.

No comments:

Post a Comment