Carlton batsman Hamish Gardiner admitted a career-best innings of 82 in Scottish colours against New Zealand A at Raeburn Place has left him dreaming of next February’s World Cup in the Antipodes.
Ultimately, Gardiner’s knock was insufficient to help the Scots over the line – they finished 97 runs short of a total of 369-5 – but there were positives, notably that a total of 272 all out with 13 balls remaining of the 50 overs was a considerable improvement on the 148 posted last Friday when a three-match series, which is due to be concluded in Edinburgh today, got under way.
Also, there was one over from skipper Calum MacLeod, who was bowling for the first time in Scottish colours this season having been forced some years ago to re-model his action during which time he re-invented himself as a batsman.
The over may have gone for 14 runs, but the boost to see MacLeod putting himself in the firing line again was significant, especially with trips looming to Ireland and West Indies book-ending a month-long trip to New Zealand and Australia starting in late September.
The innings of Gardiner, pictured below, in emerging as someone the Scots can build a side around was something to really savour, especially as it signalled he had put a period of upheaval behind him.
“I was travelling up from Devon at the start of the season [for rep matches], but I’m pleased with where I am now and Carlton were fantastic in welcoming me back. When coach Grant Bradburn arrived [from New Zealand], I thought it was important for me to be as close to what was going on.
“We were one partnership short [of keeping the series alive] provided there was a big score from either me or Richie Berrington.”
Berrington made 50 in a partnership of 99 with Gardiner, who said: “It’s early wickets that are killing us.
“Their 369-5 [higher than the Aussies’ 362 on the same ground last year in an official ODI] was formidable, but the aim was always to bat deep into the 40th over with wickets in hand then accelerate. We lost too many wickets up front,” said the 23-year-old.
Scotland coach Bradburn sang the praises both of Berrington, particularly his playing of spin, and Gardiner, of whom he said: “I particularly liked the way Hamish looks to hit the ball along the ground. He was looking to be positive, score and be busy.
“But [above all] he was looking to hit the ball on the ground. These are basics a couple of others in our order need to look at and give themselves a chance for longer.”
Bradburn revealed that he expects to name a squad next week for a month-long pre-World Cup tour to the Antipodes starting in late September, but those intending to travel will need to show they have sharpened up in some aspects. “Our fielding was poor,” admitted Bradburn.
Some of that could be attributed to Scotland being under-cooked since links with the county scene were severed this season and several notables were absent yesterday on duty with counties.
One piece of fielding won high marks for artistic impression, though, and again it involved Gardiner. Positioned on the boundary, Gardiner leapt to parry Colin de Grandhomme’s shot to Michael Leask, who took the catch.
Not that their spectacular efforts made much difference to a resounding Kiwi total, but it did temporarily deflect from an onslaught.
If Scotland thought things couldn’t get much worse after conceding 347 to the tourists in the first leg, they were to be quickly disabused of that notion.
Michael Bracewell (106) and Grant Elliot (103 no) both had centuries, with Hamish Rutherford chipping in 98 before being caught trying to bring up his own ton and the team’s 200 with a big hit down the ground.
Fortunately, there was Gardiner and, to a lesser extent, Berrington, to inch the team towards a measure of respectability while David Murphy and Majid Haq later had a 63-run partnership, albeit a mere consolation in the context of the result.
Other Capital performers were George Munsey, out third ball of the Scottish innings without scoring when lbw attempting to steer the ball down the leg side, while Ally Evans bowled two maidens, but a loss of line and length on occasions meant he failed to pick up a wicket and was withdrawn from the attack after eight overs.