Series: Scotland in Ireland May 2021
Venue: Civil Service Cricket Club, Stormont, Belfast
Result: Scotland by 11 runs
Note: match played on the 24th due to rain on 23rd.
Bowlers Bask in Belfast
It was 612 days since these two teams last played international cricket. After waiting all that time this first match of four was delayed for a day due to weather. When they finally took to the field the bowlers from both teams ran amok.
Kathryn Bryce won the toss for Scotland and chose to bat and Ireland skipper Laura Delany admitted she would have done the same. Both teams were playing debutants: Ailsa Lister for Scotland; Amy Hunter and Ava Canning for Ireland.
The pitch didn’t immediately expose any demons and the Scots got off to a slow and steady start. Becky Glen (3) was the first to go and the first international wicket to Canning when clean bowled the batter. This brought the captain to the crease to join her sister Sarah Bryce, the two all-time highest run scorers for Scotland. A formidable challenge for any bowler, yet when K. Bryce a batter with an average of 50.00, played and missed four times in a row against Orla Prendergast, you could sense this was not an easy wicket to bat on. And so it proved.
Ringing the changes in the field, Delany was outstanding, both with field placements and bowling options. She looked in complete charge as the Irish bowlers gave the Scots very little to hit. What was hit was gobbled up or chased down by an energetic fielding team. Only seven boundaries were scored.
In this tense atmosphere one could sense that something had to give and it came in a poor call for a quick single that was never on and Sarah Bryce (14) was brilliantly runout by Celeste Raack. When Kathryn (12) was dismissed caught and bowled by Lara Maritz, the Scottish innings was listing badly at 35/3 in the ninth over.
The innings never really recovered but the Scots did dig in and get to the end of their 20 overs, Katie McGill’s 20 from 22 deliveries the top score. In the context of the match Priyanaz Chatterji’s 11 and Katie Fraser’s 8 were valuable cameos in the team total of 87/9.
With the ball the debutant Canning was excellent, taking 1-17 while the skipper chimed in with 2-13. Pick of the bowlers was Raack. Classic leg spinner. Fidgety, constantly tossing ball around while waiting to bowl. A full toss, a couple of half trackers mixed with unplayable deliveries. It’s all part of leg spin and she ended with the excellent figures of 3-15 from three overs and her best figures in T20Is.Embed from Getty Images
If the Scots were nervous about what appeared to be an under par score, they sure didn’t let it on. There’s an old adage that Scottish people are careful with money and do not give it away easily. The same could be said of runs because they were absolute misers in giving nothing away. If the Irish fielding was very good, the opposition turned the dial up to eleven.
Leading the way, skipper K. Bryce was cunning and ruthless. Her strategies for different batter evident from the first over from slow bowler Becky Glen, designed to take the pace off the ball to the hard hitting Gaby Lewis. The over went for 5 runs but it had the desired effect and was the only one bowled by Glen. Job done, next. The following over Bryce trapped Lewis (4) in front.
The runs dried up completely. It was slow going but absorbing, tense cricket. During this time Priyanaz Chatterji bowled a rare – and the only – maiden. Her three overs went for 3 runs during the Powerplay. Just as in the first innings, something had to give and it resulted in a runout by who? Yes K. Bryce removed Rebecca Stokell (4) with the help of Abtaha Maqsood. Ireland were now 9/2 in the sixth over.
Shauna Kavanagh (12) brought some energy to the crease. It was as welcome as a hot cup of tea on this bleak Belfast day. As if to remind us that there are two Bryces, Sarah made a swift stumping of Delany (8) from the bowling of the impressive Katherine Fraser. Just in case you missed, two balls later she did the same thing to Kavanagh. She ended with four stumpings in the innings equaling the world record she shares five others and only the second player after Pakistan’s Batool Fatima to do it twice. The fourth was off the bowling of her sister and so quick and efficient that it would have made England’s Sarah Taylor proud.
A fightback by Leah Paul (18) and Celeste Raack (10) helped Ireland maintain slim hope that they would somehow get over the line but were finally subdued after 19.3 overs, all out for 76.
Pick of the bowlers, K Bryce with 2-8, Katherine Fraser 2-15. Even the wicketless bowlers contributed greatly, but best figures overall went to Katie McGill with 3-18. No player of the match was announced but with those bowling figures and also her 20 runs being the highest score, surely it would have been McGill. Or do four stumpings count more?
Scotland 87/9 (McGill 20, S. Bryce 14, Raack 3-13, Delaney 2-13) 20 overs
Ireland 76 (Paul 18, McGill 3-18, K. Bryce 2-8, S. Bryce 4 stumpings) 19.3 overs
Player of the Match: not announcedEmbed from Getty Images