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Leask lights up Mannofield but Bell tolls loudest for England

Many performed creditably as yesterday's Scotland-England one-day international encounter was salvaged from the Mannofield mud but none more so than Ken McCurdie, the groundsman who took charge of the extended battle with the elements.

Chris Jordan wheels away to celebrate dismissing Scotland's Preston Mommsen. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
Chris Jordan wheels away to celebrate dismissing Scotland's Preston Mommsen. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

Fellow local Michael Leask, who plays his club cricket for Stoneywood Dyce, would claim the official man-of-the-match award for a spectacular little innings that contained five sixes midway and briefly threatened an upset midway through Scotland's run chase.

However, McCurdie's courage in turning down hospital treatment so he could direct the mop-up effort after dislocating his elbow while battling with machinery early in the day was what allowed the match to go ahead and it was clear that the players felt they had a duty to match his fortitude.

"Another strange injury," mused Alistair Cook, England's captain, who reckoned these were perhaps the worst conditions in which he had played international cricket.

"Credit to the ground staff. They worked incredibly hard to get it as fit for play as they could and I hope the crowd enjoyed the game."

Play having been due to start at 10.45am, all the work McCurdie directed with his arm carried in a sling was finally rewarded as the players emerged a bit more than five hours after that, but by then the match had been reduced from the scheduled 50 overs per side to 23.

If not as physically painful it was hardly the perfect day either for the two head coaches, who were, in their different ways, not overseeing their teams for the first time. In Peter Moores' case he would have hoped his second spell with England would have started with a more orthodox day's cricket for his revamped team.

Grant Bradburn, Scotland's new head coach who took a back seat to let Craig Wright keep charge of the team on a caretaker basis, would meanwhile doubtless have begun the day hoping to assess his men through action rather than words.

After all that time they had had to wile away in the pavilion that opportunity finally presented itself as the ground staff declared their victory.

England were duly put in to bat by Kyle Coetzer, Scotland's captain, whose side felt primed to generate an upset since the opposition would have fielded a very different side had this been planned as a T20 encounter. Cook's luck was in early on, though, particularly during a Josh Davey over in which two mishit shots dropped just short of Scottish fielders; there was also a swing and a miss.

However he showed typical resilience to keep long-time international colleague Ian Bell company. Bell rattled up a half-century off 34 balls, including two sixes and four further boundaries before his departure, bowled round his legs by Rob Taylor, ended an opening stand of 83 midway through the 12th over.

Cook looked to be on the point of matching Bell's top score by moving from 44 to 50 with a flat, straight six when the ball was superbly intercepted just inside the rope at long off by Calum MacLeod, flying two-handed to his left.

Having claimed both openers Taylor then produced two high-class boundary catches to remove Joss Butler and Joe Root off Davey's bowling and he also claimed the wicket of Ravi Bopara, MacLeod once again making the catch that removed the all-rounder.

Several highlights for the Scots to savour, then, but England's tally of 167-6 already looked enough before a Duckworth/Lewis adjustment, brought about by another downpour in mid-innings that further reduced the match to 20 overs-a-side, revised the target to 173.

Again Scotland had their moments in reply, a MacLeod boundary off Jimmy Anderson's second ball momentarily getting them ahead of the required run-rate, but Matthew Cross played on in that same first over.

MacLeod also managed a boundary during Harry Gurney's first over in international cricket, but suffered the same fate as his opening partner, outwitted by Anderson as the tone for the innings was set.

Matt Machan looked set to be Scotland's top scorer with a solid 33 off 37 balls containing four boundaries before, as the evening sun now lit up Mannofield, Leask did likewise, with his joyous 16-ball cameo.

Had he been able to maintain that strike rate for another couple of overs it could have been interesting, but when Anderson's fine catch prevented him from clearing the ropes off James Tredwell for a fourth time off the last ball of the 13th over, that was pretty much that.

Late defiance from Majid Haq and Alasdair Evans did save Scotland from being bowled out, but a 39-run winning margin was a well-received outcome for the visitors on their first run-out of the season.

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