Cricket: Majid Haq looks ahead to Ireland tests

Aaron Finch bats for Australia as Scotland's Gordon Goudie bowls. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Aaron Finch bats for Australia as Scotland's Gordon Goudie bowls. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Scotland’s most prolific one-day wicket taker, Majid Haq, wants the team to be judged on this weekend’s two World Cup qualifiers away to Ireland rather than a 200-run defeat by Australia in Edinburgh.

After inserting the tourists, the Scots found themselves chasing a mammoth 363-3 target and putting that into perspective only one side in history – South Africa – has successfully hunted down a higher target.

“We now forget about this game and concentrate on Friday and Sunday in Ireland where, if we win these we have a good chance of qualifying automatically for the World Cup,” said spinner Haq, who, at the same time admitted: “Games like the one we have just played tell you how hard international cricket is. If you are not on your game then the margin will be this. We didn’t bowl or bat as well as we could have and it is always tough when chasing 360 runs.

“(Positives) we take are the way we bowled in the first ten overs and the fact we got three top bastsmen out on a very good batting wicket.

“Matt Machin’s 39 runs and Gordon Goudie showing at the end he can hit any bowler out the park were other positives.”

On the last occasion the Australians visited, in 2009, Goudie made his imprint by taking five wickets and his two sixes from down the order, albeit in a lost cause, at least gave the home crowd something to cheer on a day when openers Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh put on an Aussie record 245 for the first wicket.

That left Scots skipper Preston Mommsen to concede: “We were outplayed on the day but were good in parts.”

Referring to a missed stumping of Finch, who went on to make 148 to Marsh’s 151, Mommsen said: “The first ten overs were very good with the ball and unfortunately we probably missed a key opportunity just after and we never got back in the game.

“However, the two Irish games are the main focus, they count for a lot more. We are still an associate cricketing nation and so are the Irish. That is the real test.”

In addition to Machin’s 39, Haq hit 25, Calum MacLeod contributed 24 and Goudie smashed 24. However, if this had been a boxing match the referee would have been obliged to intervene.

What started as exhibition fare rapidly became a challenge to the powers of concentration because, although Scottish bowlers never allowed shoulders to droop in the face of some accomplished shot-making and placement, the essence of sport is competition and this was nothing if not one-sided.

So much so that when play was paused it was hard to tell whether the break was for drinks or to allow the umpires physiotherapy given the number of occasions they had to exercise their upper limbs signalling sixes and fours.

By the time Finch and Marsh had finished their plundering, they were just seven short of their country’s all-time highest pairing and 41 adrift of the world best by two Sri Lankans.

As for those late wickets which included a hat-trick delivery by Iain Wardlaw, they were the product of mere slogging. When the announcer solemnly intoned: “Scotland will aim to chase 363 for victory”, many a few wry smiles were exchanged around the boundary.

In fact, when standing at 2-2 in reply, comparisons were being made with other Caledonian sporting catastrophies such as Murrayfield’s nadir when the 1951 Springboks took 44 unanswered points under old scoring values and Frank Haffey’s 9-3 Wembley nightmare.

A horrible mix-up between Mommsen, backing up, and Machin resulted in the former taking his leave as Scotland wobbled at 31-3, still 37 short of their lowest ever ODI total, against West Indies in a 1999 World Cup tie.

The prospect of batting embarrassment being heaped on bowling humiliation was avoided, although when the official Twitter feed declared “Scotland in trouble, 85-5” the pronouncement was still about four or five hours late!

By that stage the Scots had at least shown a measure of resolve lacking for most of the day even if the main point of interest was to see if they could overtake a previous highest score of 181 achieved against Australia in a one-day game and stemming from the 1999 World Cup.

Alas, it was a forlorn hope and if there was a certain symmetry about stumps being drawn with the hosts exactly 200 runs short, at least they have an immediate chance to put lessons into effect this weekend against an Irish side who managed to run England close in their warm-up.