Scottish cricket’s feelgood factor rolls on, with their chairman talking of a possible step up to Test status and Calum MacLeod, the star of the historic win over England, joining Derbyshire for this summer’s Twenty20 Blast.
MacLeod, whose unbeaten 140 from only 94 balls put the world’s top ODI side to the claymore at the Grange on Sunday, is centrally contracted by Scotland and so will be on a free loan to the Falcons, who also get his head coach, Grant Bradburn, joining their set-up.
This dual deal is the product of a partnership with Cricket Scotland and sees them link up with Safyaan Sharif too, the seamer whose final wicket of Mark Wood lbw sparked heady scenes and is already at Derbyshire in a similar capacity.
Certainly their first win over England, following victories over Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in the past 12 months (the latter in an unofficial 50-over match), has Scotland dreaming big. Ireland needed a decade of giant killings to get Test status but the Cricket Scotland chairman, Tony Brian, hopes to be quicker.
“I can see us getting there in the next couple of years,” Brian told BBC Scotland. “The ICC set strict criteria for us to meet for full member status and we’re only two away. We probably need one more win against a top nation and our women’s team, who are also rapidly improving, need to do well at a World Cup qualifier.”
While Kyle Coetzer’s team now turn their attention to the first of two Twenty20s at home to Pakistan on Tuesday – can they make it a famous double against this format’s No 1 side? – England are dusting themselves down before their one-day series opener against Australia at the Oval on Wednesday.
Into the squad comes the rested Jos Buttler – the unused Dawid Malan returns to Middlesex – while Jake Ball joins a bowling group chastened by shipping 371 runs in 50 overs. Tom Curran, Surrey’s box of tricks right-armer, got away with carrying the drinks against Scotland and will surely push for selection on his home ground.
Without the injured Ben Stokes providing a sixth bowling option, and new-ball/death specialist Chris Woakes similarly on the sidelines, Eoin Morgan’s attack still appears to lack cutting edge; something exposed when, for the first time ever, four of the five conceded 70 runs or more, with Moeen Ali’s 10 overs the thriftiest at 65 runs.
Liam Plunkett is England’s highest placed bowler in terms of strike rate since the last World Cup, sitting 20th, while David Willey sent down 10 overs for the first time in two years but worryingly did not swing the ball. Perhaps Morgan was too hasty in dismissing the idea of Jofra Archer being part of the plans next summer, subject to the Barbados-born quick profiting from a change in qualification rules.
Jonny Bairstow, whose blistering 105 appeared to have broken the back of the run chase, only for the middle order to fold, is confident of a renewed showing against an Australia side lacking five first-team players via injury or suspension.
He said: “It’s a completely different challenge. There will be Australia players who will want to be competing for their places all the way through that side. We know how dangerous that can be when people are pushing for a permanent place.”
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