Published On: Sat, Jun 9th, 2018

Scotland have point to prove in rare match-up with neighbours England

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Big Picture

This week begins the start of a historic event, something everyone pouring through the stadium gates only gets to witness once every four years, an occasion the host country’s players and fans pour their heart and soul into because it might be their lone shot at capturing greatness on the world stage for a very long time.

No, no, not Russia welcoming the FIFA World Cup. It’s when Scotland hosts England in an ODI. Initially intended to be a biennial affair, with England alternating benevolent visits to Ireland every other year, the Bannockburn bilaterals on Saltire soil have only achieved a completed result twice since the first ODI between the two sides was played north of the wall in 2008.

After a no result in the maiden encounter at the Grange, England claimed a seven-wicket win in 2010 defeating their former team-mate Gavin Hamilton who had gone back home to captain his country. After 2012’s scheduled match was called off weeks in advance due to flooding issues at the Grange, the 2014 affair was a rain-marred contest in Aberdeen, with Scotland falling well short in a 20-over chase.

Nothing was scheduled in 2016 to follow up their only ever encounter at an ICC tournament when England prevailed once again behind a Moeen Ali century in Christchurch at the 2015 World Cup.

For Scotland, Sunday presents an opportunity to show they are deserving of more fixtures against England, let alone other Full Members. They’re also keen to show everyone their form at the World Cup Qualifier was not a one-off. After opening the tournament with a shock win over Afghanistan, they tied with Zimbabwe before running Ireland and West Indies tight in a pair of matches infamous for the lbw decisions given by Paul Wilson that didn’t go their way.

The Grange is the scene of Scotland’s famous maiden ODI win over a Full Member almost a year ago to the day when they knocked off Zimbabwe. Coach Grant Bradburn, a man of many mottos including “playing with teeth” and “Kaizen”, has told those around the team this week that they are “hunting history” in their pursuit of a maiden win over England.

Scotland’s coaching staff has called on reinforcements for some inspiration to visualize that happening. Former Scotland rugby international Duncan Hodge, who famously denied England the 2000 Grand Slam by singlehandedly outscoring the opposition 19-13 for Scotland’s first victory over England in a decade, has been on hand this week to provide just a little bit more motivation. As Calum MacLeod said “all it takes is one person” to stick their hand up, “to be bold and take that opportunity if it presents itself.”

Making that happen will be a tall order. Scotland had enough difficulty taking on the middling limited-overs sides put out by England in years past. The outfit ready to step onto the field in Edinburgh on Sunday arrives with a No. 1 ranking in tow, their brand of one-day cricket unrecognizable to what most fans grew up with.

Even without the injured Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes plus the rested Jos Buttler, England boast more than their fair share of established names forming an explosive batting line-up. Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Sam Billings and Moeen Ali all saw time during the IPL this spring though with mixed results and all four will be keen to find form heading into the start of the ODI series against Australia which begins midweek.

The anticipation at the Grange has been immense. A quaint club ground hugging the River Leith has done its best Malahide impression, shapeshifting into a sold-out 4600 seat pop-up stadium. The city is hosting a Rolling Stones concert at Murrayfield Stadium on the eve of the cricket match and with Mick Jagger’s penchant for showing up at cricket in offbeat places – whether it be watching USA in the final of 2016 WCL Division Four at Los Angeles or the Ireland men’s maiden Test against Pakistan – locals are prepping for another cricket cameo from rock royalty to add a bit more prestige to the occasion.

Form guide

Scotland LLWTW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
England WLWWL

In the spotlight

Captain Kyle Coetzer is the only player in the Scotland squad who has appeared in every previous ODI encounter against England. After a six-ball duck in 2008, he’s fared quite well, top-scoring with 51 in the loss at the Grange in 2010 and producing another leading effort at the 2015 World Cup in Christchurch – 71 at the top of the order. He’s been in sensational form throughout the last year, and piloted Scotland’s famous win on the same ground last year over Zimbabwe with a sparkling century.

England’s shining star at the top of the order in white-ball cricket has been Jonny Bairstow. He demolished New Zealand in the series decider in Christchurch, in England’s most recent ODI tie-up in March, crunching 104 off 60 balls for his second century in a row to finish as England’s leading scorer with 302 runs.

Team news

No. 3 batsman Michael Jones was called up to Durham on Friday. Brad Wheal, who was sensational with the new ball in Zimbabwe at the World Cup Qualifiers, has been laid low with a back injury, leaving Chris Sole and Stuart Whittingham as options to join Safyaan Sharif in the seam attack. Dylan Budge, who played for Scotland in their Champions Trophy warm-up win over Sri Lanka last year, may get his full international debut ahead of George Munsey after entering the contest in sizzling domestic form.

Scotland: (probable): 1 Kyle Coetzer (capt), 2 Matthew Cross (wk), 3 Calum MacLeod, 4 Richie Berrington, 5 Preston Mommsen, 6 Dylan Budge/George Munsey, 7 Michael Leask, 8 Safyaan Sharif, 9 Mark Watt, 10 Alasdair Evans, 11 Stuart Whittingham

Chris Woakes was ruled out of this contest earlier in the week with Tom Curran called up as cover. Morgan revealed in the pre-match press conference that Alex Hales has been pencilled into the XI as Jos Buttler sits out ahead of the Australia series.

England (probable): 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 Jason Roy, 3 Alex Hales, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Sam Billings (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Adil Rashid, 9 David Willey/Tom Curran, 10 Liam Plunkett, 11 Mark Wood

Pitch and conditions

The Grange pitch is a belter, where 300-325 is par on a normal day. But with the boundaries brought in at the Pavilion End to make room for Sky Sports TV scaffolding and wiring, 350 or more would not be farfetched for Sunday.

Saturday’s training session stayed dry until just after England departed; then, showers started to fall. However the ground is expected to remain mostly dry for game day; early morning rain is forecast but a clear afternoon with temperatures hovering around a mild 20C.

Stats and trivia

  • Despite being neighbours, eight Full Members played an ODI against Scotland – beginning with their maiden fixture against Australia at the 1999 World Cup – before England finally faced them for the first time in 2008. Only Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe took longer. England’s fifth ODI against Scotland on Sunday ties Australia for most number of ODIs played by a Full Member against Scotland.

  • Coetzer, who will be playing his 50th ODI on Sunday, needs 89 runs to become the first Scotland player to reach 2000 runs in ODIs. Only Calum MacLeod, Richie Berrington and Majid Haq have played more ODIs for Scotland.

  • Eoin Morgan needs 130 runs to pass Ian Bell as England’s all-time leading scorer in ODIs. Morgan currently has 5287 in 177 matches to Bell’s 5416 in 161.

Quotes

“Every occasion like tomorrow’s game is going to be a special occasion. It’s going to be one in which we always feel as if we have to put on a good show.”
Kyle Coetzer on playing in front of a sold-out ground against the No. 1 ODI team in the world

“It should be a really good game. We watched them play in the qualifying tournament for the 50-over World Cup, which was an extremely competitive tournament. I don’t think there was a lot between the teams.”
Eoin Morgan is not looking past Scotland in preparation for the ODI series v Australia



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