Alastair Cook played a fine knock of 44 in his team’s win over Scotland © Getty Images
Aberdeen: May 10, 2014
England captain Alastair Cook saw the willingness of all concerned to persevere in less than ideal conditions end in a 39-run victory for his side against Scotland. As rain before and during the match reduced the One-Day International (ODI) at Aberdeen’s Mannofield to a 20 overs per side contest, the minimum required to declare a result, it was easy to recall many an England side who would have made it clear to the officials they were in no mood to carry on.
But in their first match of Peter Moores‘s second spell as England coach, and with the team keen to restore their reputation with the cricketing public, the visitors played on at a sodden ground in a match where the start was delayed by five-and-a-half hours. England, sent into bat by Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer, compiled 167 for six in their 20, with Ian Bell making a fluent 50 and fellow opener Cook 44.
Scotland, set a Duckworth/Lewis adjusted victory target of 173, lost both their openers to James Anderson before local hero Michael Leask rocked England with 42 off just 16 balls including five sixes. But when Leask fell to off-spinner James Tredwell, who took a one-day international best four for 41, Scotland’s challenge against their 2015 World Cup pool opponents petered out.
“Those were borderline conditions to play in,” said Cook. “But just in a one-off game, with not so much riding on it, I think it was the right decision. “I think it would have been wrong if we hadn’t — and credit to both sides for just getting on with it.” Prior to the one mid-match stoppage, Cook and Bell, who put on 83 for the first wicket, kept batting during a heavy downpour and so helping to buy enough time for the fixture to be played to a finish.
“Those conditions are as wet as I have ever fielded in,” said Cook. “It probably wasn’t fit to play, if you are being totally honest. “I was in standing water at mid-off, and there were other patches like that. But both sides just got on with it.
“I thought the way Scotland fielded, especially in those conditions, was exceptional.” The left-hander added: “We were asking ‘How wet does it have to get?’ I was actually going to ask for a towel to dry my grip, because I couldn’t grip my bat.
“When the umps came and said ‘Look, it’s going to take a lot longer to mop up properly — but do you want to just get on with it?’ Kyle and his team said ‘yes’.”
England were in dire need of a victory after a humiliating 45-run loss to the Netherlands at the ICC World T20 2014 in Chittagong last time out which came hot on the heels of their 5-0 Ashes drubbing in Australia. But as long as Aberdeen-born Leask was at the crease the prospect of fresh embarrassment remained.
“He was dangerous, wasn’t he?” said an admiring Cook. “The only people who timed the ball were he and Belly, and they did it beautifully. “He (Leask) has got a lovely swing of the bat and when he hit it, it stayed hit.
“It would have needed him to get 80 or 90 to do it … but while he was still in, it was definitely a possibility.” The 23-year-old Leask, named man-of-the-match for his heroics, added: “I’m quite a confident person when I go into bat. “I know I can hit the ball quite cleanly…and if I am straight I usually connect quite well.”