Capital cricketer Harris Aslam believes that team spirit and belief was key to helping Scotland under-19s qualify for the World Cup in dramatic circumstances.
Mazars Grange spinner Aslam was one of the stars for the young Scots during their Pepsi ICC Europe Division One campaign in Jersey last week, taking 15 wickets in six matches against Ireland, the Netherlands and the hosts.
The Scots went in to their last match with Ireland on Saturday knowing that they had to defeat them – and do it well – if they were going to snatch top spot and an automatic place at the World Cup which will be held in Bangladesh early next year.
They managed to do just that at Grainville, posting 244 all out batting first and then bowling the Irish out for 161 in reply.
That meant they had pipped the Irish in the overall table with a better net run rate, having won five out of six matches. “The feeling at the end of the Ireland match was amazing, I don’t even think it has properly sunk in yet, to be honest,” said Aslam, now back home in Edinburgh.
“We had played good cricket during the week, but we had slipped up a bit in the first Ireland match and we wanted to make amends for that.
“On Saturday before the final match, we had a chat with the coaches and decided that batting first would be the best option to help us try and get the result we needed.
“We batted pretty well and that left us knowing that, if we could bowl Ireland out for less than 190, then we would finish top.
“Spinner Ryan Brown opened the bowling and that put Ireland under pressure because he bowled a really good spell. Ben Wilkinson then took five wickets and when the final man was out we were so happy.
“It was always going to be hard playing six games in a short spell, but the group all get on well and we used the rest days as well as we could to get us prepared – and now we can all look forward to a World Cup.”
Former Drummond High School pupil Aslam, 18, moved from Carlton to Grange at the start of this season and believes spells spent playing in Pakistan and New Zealand over the winter helped him progress as a player.
As well as Aslam, Heriot’s star Brown, Fin McCreath, Cameron Sloman and Simon Whait (all Grange) and Thomas Hilton (Stuart&Stuart Penicuik) were the local players involved in the under-19s’ triumph. The side was coached by two men based in the Capital, Carlton skipper Gordon Drummond and SMRH’s Cedric English.
Head coach Drummond said of his young charges: “I am so happy for the boys, they have worked very hard for this.
“They knew they were good cricketers coming into the event, but I think being in this environment where they have played six matches in a week has helped them progress.
“I have seen them work together as a team and prepare plans for different batsmen and such like and the great thing is that I still believe they have a lot more to offer.
“Now they will all go back to their clubs and play in some important matches over the next month or so and I am sure the thought of the World Cup will be constantly in their mind and will help them put in good performances in senior cricket.
“They are a great bunch to work with.”