Scotland defeat leaves a mountain to climb

Namibia 324-5 (SJ Baard 78, MRJ Watt 2 for 45) beat Scotland 274-9 (KJ Coetzer 112, JN Frylinck 3 for 45) by 50 runs 

Scotland suffered a crushing blow in their bid to challenge the Netherlands at the top of the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) after defeat to Namibia in their second match at Raeburn Place. Despite 112 from Kyle Coetzer an excellent performance with both bat and ball from the African side condemned the hosts to their second loss in the competition as the gap to the league leaders remained at three points with just four games to play.

Having won the first match Scotland named an unchanged line-up as they sought to win the further game in hand they had over their European rivals. Namibia, meanwhile, brought Tangeni Lungameni into their eleven in place of Louis van der Westhuizen, the opener having failed to recover from the ankle injury he had batted through the previous day.

Heavy rain in Edinburgh had forced the first match into the reserve day and with more unsettled weather forecast for late afternoon here it was perhaps surprising that Namibia captain Sarel Burger chose to bat after he won the toss once more. Openers Stephan Baard and Zane Green made a confident start, however, as they passed fifty in the tenth over.

Baard looked in particularly fine form, helping himself to three consecutive boundaries off Chris Sole in the 11th as the seamers struggled to make an impact on a good batting surface. The 25 year-old all-rounder was timing the ball beautifully and he reached his thirteenth List A fifty at the end of the 13th over before bringing up the hundred partnership with his ninth boundary three balls later. That second fifty had come in only 5.1 overs and, with the visitors at 103-0 in the 16th, Scotland was in desperate need of a breakthrough.

It was to arrive at the end of the 19th when Baard (78) was caught behind after mistiming his pull to a slow bouncer from Safyaan Sharif. Coming off only 53 balls it had been a fine knock, and although his departure initially slowed the flow of boundaries Green and partner Gerhard Erasmus continued to keep the run rate at more than a run-a-ball.

Having batted at eight in the first match Green was relishing his opportunity and he brought up his highest List A score before falling to Mark Watt for 61. With the slow left-armer striking in his next over, too, as Erasmus was bowled for 27, Scotland at last sensed a way into the game.

Any hope of a flurry of wickets was to prove shortlived, however, as Jan Frylinck started confidently, finding the boundary three times within his first ten balls. Frylinck, who scored 156 in the Intercontinental Cup match between the two at the beginning of June, again looked comfortable, and he signalled the end of a quieter passage of play by hoisting Con de Lange for the first six of the innings.

Frylinck was to fall midway through the 44th as he was run out for 42, Sole picking up off his own bowling to throw down the stumps at the striker’s end. It was a memorable piece of fielding but a wasteful dismissal for a player in form and it brought a new batsman to the crease at a crucial stage of the Namibian innings.

Craig Williams (69*), however, saw his side through as 45 runs came from the final four overs. It had been hard toil for Scotland, and although Namibia had looked on course for 350 at one stage, with runs on the board and the weather to take into account the visitors looked to be in the better position at the innings break. The rain had held off so far but Scotland was going to need to keep a close eye on Duckworth-Lewis as they began their chase.

After a tentative start Kyle Coetzer and Matthew Cross began to pick up the pace as, at 39-0 after six, Scotland looked to press. The eighth over was to bring a double blow, however, as first Cross (21) then Calum MacLeod (0) fell to Christi Viljoen to stall the Scotland reply at 42-2. With darkening skies overhead and a delay in prospect, too, the fallen wickets had given Scotland an additional problem to ponder.

Scotland was now behind on Duckworth-Lewis but Coetzer and new batsman Richie Berrington gradually began to bring the hosts back into contention. After a watchful beginning Berrington, fresh from his hundred in the first game, started to find his range once more, planting Lungameni back over his head for six before taking two more boundaries off the same bowler’s next over.

First Coetzer then Berrington brought up their half centuries as the two worked magnificently to pull Scotland closer to par but, with the home side still six short of the required mark, the long-threatened rain finally arrived to send the players from the field.

The delay was to prove short but the disruption to Scotland’s momentum was significant, and two quick wickets for slow left-armer Berhard Scholtz at the restart swung the game toward the visitors once more. After Berrington (61) was trapped in front Preston Mommsen (3) was caught by Erasmus, and at 167-4 in the 32nd over Scotland was suddenly well behind in the calculations.

As in the first match scoreboard pressure began to tell on the chasing side and with boundaries drying up the required rate continued to climb. Coetzer anchored the innings superbly, passing his 4000th run in List A cricket in the process, but when the Scotland captain finally succumbed after a fine century, well caught by JJ Smit on the extra cover boundary, the outcome was all but assured.

The defeat leaves Scotland in third place in the WCL Championship with away fixtures against Kenya and PNG to follow. Namibia, meanwhile, climb off the bottom of the table after finally halting a run of eight straight defeats.

By Jake Perry