The Battle of Bannockburn is of great significance in Scottish history. For the sceptics, the victory of the army of King of Scots Robert Bruce over King Edward II of England in the First War of Scottish Independence can be found enshrined in the lyrics of the Scotland national anthem.
Though the victory came about only 14 years after it was first fought, it is likely such thoughts might have aided Kyle Coetzer’s Scottish side on a rainy Nagpur evening as they ended a 16-year wait at the 2016 T20 World Cup to win their first game at an ICC Global tournament. What is it that they say about dead rubbers again?
It is unlikely many would have recollections of that soggy encounter in Nagpur against Hong Kong as they exited the tournament before it even began proper. But it got a weight of expectations off their backs.
The 2021 edition will be a chance to add to it but if it wasn’t for a collective, spirited effort against the UAE in the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers, the wait would have been longer.
The road to Oman began in Dubai with worrying signs, the Scots recording a narrow 2-run loss to Singapore. Chasing 169, Coetzer and George Munsey’s opening salvo got them off to a strong start, the pair scoring at nine an over. The momentum shift was smooth with Macleod anchoring the chase. If it wasn’t for Amjad Mahboob’s show-stopping last over to defend eight, it would have been a complete performance.
Nevertheless, Scotland recovered to win back-to-back games defending totals against Kenya and eventual runner-up Papua New Guinea before they ran aground against Namibia by 24 runs. The Scottish batters, who failed to chase 160, responded with the tournament’s first 200+ total against a listless Bermudian side. Calum Macleod struck a 37-ball 74 and brought up 1000 T20I runs in the process.
Barring Matt Cross’s 54, the Scots put in a less-than-convincing performance with the bat as the Dutch made a mad dash to chase 131 in 12.3 overs and overtake PNG on Net Run-Rate and to secure an automatic entry to the World Cup. Mark Watt’s 3/18 were his best returns in the tournament.
Scotland, though, reserved their best for when the stakes were at its highest. Requiring a win against the hosts UAE in the third qualifying playoff, Munsey swept his way to 65 as vital contributions from Richie Berrington (48) and Macleod (25) helped them put up 198 on the board, a tall ask for an Emirati side ravaged by player bans in light of fixing scandals. They were skittled for 108 as a pace-heavy attack ensured Scotland’s qualification for a second consecutive T20 World Cup appearance.
They eventually finished fifth after beating Oman by five wickets in Dubai, a victory spearheaded by Cross’s second fifty and a disciplined bowling outing for the likes of Alasdair Evans (3-18) and Mark Watt (1-22).
It helps Scotland that they have retained the core of a side that not only played the 2016 edition of the T20 World Cup but also one that saw them qualify for it after being declared joint-winners alongside the Dutch at the 2015 Qualifiers.
This experience will likely priceless amidst the glitz and glamour of this year’s tournament.
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