Custom Disqus identifier:
But their failure to do so - with the visitors winning comfortably, assisted to a great degree, by a splendid unbeaten 110 from their Aberdeen-born batsman, Kyle Coetzer - won’t be the abiding memory of that trip to leafy Stockbridge. Instead, it was the teeth-chittering cold wind which turned our viewing experience into something out of Force Ten from Navarone; the persistent drizzle, which forced the majority of us to seek out the warmth of the myriad cafes and delicatessens within easy reach of the venue; and a numbing sensation of "Why am I here?" which increased as the day wore on.
One of the small travelling band of Durham supporters looked forlornly at us as the rain increased in ferocity and the dread prospect of Duckworth-Lewis threatened to come into play and asked: "When does summer start up here?"
It was no consolation to him, nor his team’s personnel - several of whom were wearing so many layers that they resembled the Michelin Man - to learn that April had been beautiful in Scotland. This was mid-May, but it was freezing, dreich and damp, and one could understand why the description of Scots as "God’s frozen people" had been made by the likes of Bob Hope in the past.
In these circumstances, attracting a decent audience and preaching to the unconverted is always going to be a Sisyphean task, particularly considering how poorly the Scots are faring at the moment. It might be unduly dramatic to go overboard about the decline of the sport in these parts during the last five or six years, but even several of the Durham aficionados remarked on the paucity of menace in the Scots’ bowling attack, with the notable exception of Majid Haq, and the dearth of genuine pace in the ranks.
That latter deficiency isn’t surprising, when one considers that, for a variety of reasons, the Scots have lost the services, in the last couple of seasons, of Craig Wright and Paul Hoffmann (both retired), John Blain (who walked out on his country in the huff), Dewald Nel (who moved to England) and Calum MacLeod (who has been forced to re-model his action and isn’t bowling at the moment).
But, in the absence of Ryan Watson, one wonders why the likes of spinner Ross Lyons seems to have slipped off the radar. Certainly, in the absence of speed, we might as well build our attack around Haq and the likes of Lyons and search for a youngster with a bit of nip and venom in his repertoire (and if that means coping with some wild deliveries, it will be worth the cost).
Otherwise, the English sides are going to keep inflicting the same brutal punishment, which Surrey and Durham did in denting the analyses of Matty Parker, Gordon Drummond & Co.
Thankfully, it wasn’t all negative. Fraser Watts demonstrated why he has both delighted and infuriated so many Scots with a cameo against Surrey, followed by a polished half-century in the Durham defeat. Neil McCallum also excelled in the first match, while Preston Mommsen has come on in leaps and bounds.
Haq produced a couple of parsimonious displays and might have picked up more than two wickets with better fielding. Josh Davey can definitely bat, and the same applies to MacLeod, even if he was over-impulsive in trying to seize the initiative against Durham. Coetzer, too, proved yet again that he will be a major asset in any future World Cup qualifying tournaments and, although Richie Berrington has yet to fire this summer, nobody doubts his credentials.
Yet it should be borne in mind that Durham were missing the likes of Steve Harmison, Graeme Onions, Liam Plunkett, Paul Collingwood, Calum Thorp and Neil Killeen, and still managed to bowl the Saltires out for under 200.
In anybody’s terms, the Grange was like Cold Comfort Farm for a number of reasons and the Scots have now only one more CB40 fixture - on Sunday at Northants - between now and the middle of July.
Hopefully, it might be a bit warmer in Edinburgh by then. But the players also need to raise the temperature of their displays if they are to make genuine progress. The Irish have withdrawn from the CB 40 and most of their best players are now in England, as has been evident in the splendid performances of the likes of William Porterfield and Niall O’Brien during the last week.
Perhaps, for the long-term benefit of the game, some of Scotland’s youngsters have to be prepared to fly the nest as Coetzer has done. But that is an argument for another day.
Neil Drysdale wants to give Scotland's clubs a platform for their developments, activities and emerging players. To get in touch, contact him at email@example.com