Scottish students trial match goes to the wire
Scottish Student Cricket
North Inch in Perth played host on Sunday to a trial match between an International Students XI and an All Scotsí Students XI as the Scottish Students coach and management team look to make sure no stone is left unturned in finding the best squad of players ahead of this summers expanded fixture programme. After the winter indoor training programme was completed players attentions have focussed on this fixture. Perth was rather cold, but importantly dry, for the game which started at Noon and was a 45 over per side contest with batting and bowling powerplays as well as free hits for front foot no-balls in the rules agreed by the captains before the toss.
The North Inch, setting to Scotlandís first victory versus a professional county side in one day competition in 1986 when Richard Swan, Dallas Moir, Neil Burnett et al defeated a Lancashire side with the likes of Neil Fairbrother, Paul Allott and Graham Fowler in the ranks. The once highly regarded grass wicket is no more, but a high quality artificial pitch has been installed. The outfield was a credit to Perth & Kinross Councilís grounds staff, who had it looking really good and it played as fast as it looked. Many are snobbish about artificial wickets, but with such a good outfield and a true bounce on the pitch there was every chance a good quality game could be had even at this early stage in April, rather a stodgy low scoring affair on a turf wicket.
Edinburgh Universityís Andrew Brock lost the toss to Jake Starkey, the Yorkshireman who was captain of the Internationals, invited the Scotsí to bat. Josh Stinson bowled a good first spell as he blew away the winter cobwebs, inducing an edge to Starkey behind the stumps from the bat of RGU keeper/batsman Alisdair Gilmour, after cranking his pace up progressively. Allan MacLeod of Stirling Uni took the game to the Internationals with a 6 and three 4s in his 29, before being well caught by Shah running in from third man while the ball swirled in the air.
Euan Sheridan batted watchfully for 17 as James Rainford bowled an impressive spell of medium pace swing bowling. Graham Oliver and Nick Martin fell in quick succession after Sheridanís dismissal, so a partnership between Niall MacLeod (UWS) and skipper Brock steady the ship briefly, though runs were coming at a pedestrian pace given the fine bowling from Rainford and Stinson. It was not until local lad, Meigle CC and Dundee Uniís Jamie Morrison came in at no. 8 that the scoring rate really accelerated. Morrison who was eventaully caught in the deep for 35, his teamís top score, by the safe hands of Shah. Morrison was complimented by a 30 from Gala CC and Edinburgh Uniís Graham Ormiston, who was bowled by Rainford going for another boundary. Rainford ended with figures of 8-2-24-4 and the Scots were left frustrated as they wasted 5 overs as they were 184 all out in the 40th over.
The Internationals innings started steadily. Imran Khan (UHI) played with his typical panache but succumbed to Craig Ramsayís left arm spin. Opening partner Starkey adjudged lbw by up and coming young umpire Ryan Milne, as the eratic, but always dangerous Stephen Dathorne took his sole wicket. The Scotsí had a fine array of spin to call upon and leggie Anthony Hulatt bowled impressively, if occasionally a bit short, to claim the scalps of Saraj Sall and Vihar Shah in the Internationals middle orders to leave the batting side on 67/5. Sall, who learned his cricket at the Bracebridge Heath club in Lincolnshire, had fielded outstandingly, but could not fend off an exceptional delivery from the leggie. James Rainford came to the crease and was soon joined by Josh Stinson and the game started to turn in the International students favour. The Stirling Uni man, who hails from the Tynedale club in Northumberland, struck 43 to add to his haul of four wickets. Rainford was supported by Stinson who struck four boundaries on his way to being his sides 2nd top scorer. Rainford was caught off Morrison and this left much for Stinson to do with the tail. Ally Stokes came in number 9 and struck two mighty shots before an outstanding catch from Graham Oliver dismissed him and turned the game back in the favour of the Scotsí XI. Oliver jumped full stretched and seemed to pluck the ball out of thin air. Ultimately, with 11 needed off the final over, which medium pacer Morrison bowled, Stinson could not get on strike early enough to make an impact and only 3 was added, at the cost of the 9th wicket, so it was the Scotsí XI that won the fixture, as the Internationals fell short on 176/9 in their allotted 45 overs.
The match gave the captain and coach much to think about ahead of the first Scottish Students rep game of the season on Sunday 6 May, which is a free date in the BUCS Scottish Conference league calendar. Exam commitments rule out a couple of players for the clash with the East of Scotland League select XI at Falklandís picturesque Scroggie Park in Fife, but this opens the door for others to take advantage of the opportunity ahead of the June fixtures.