The joy of following international cricket for me is not limited to the glare of publicity, TV & radio coverage, and endless column inches that are lavished on countless matches between the leading ICC full members. I love watching the associates do battle too and, always a fan of the underdog, where there is a chance for an associate to give a full member a bloody nose or two, my interest piques even more!
This week is one such chance as Scotland take on Zimbabwe in a two-game ODI series at The Grange in Edinburgh, with matches scheduled for both Thursday 15th June and Saturday 17th June. It is a rare bilateral series for the Scots against a Test-playing nation, and they’ll be looking to cause something of an upset.
Scotland enter the series with their form very much mixed. Just under a month ago they stunned a full-strength Sri Lanka by hammering them by seven wickets in a practice match at Beckenham in Kent. Unfortunately for the Scots, the match did not carry official ODI status as the ground was not deemed up to ICC standards, but that doesn’t take away from the magnitude of the achievement.
Sadly, they followed up that win with a nine-wicket loss to the Lankans in the second game of the series, and earlier this week suffered a shock home defeat to Namibia – a team that doesn’t currently have ODI status. Can they recapture the form of that first game in Kent? If they can, then Zimbabwe have every reason to be nervous.
For their part, the Africans have not played an ODI since February, when they played another associate nation, Afghanistan, in a five game series in Harare, losing 4-1. They are using this series as a warm up to their tour of Sri Lanka later in the year, and will definitely be keen to get back to winning ways.
So, much to play for, but also keep a look out for the following personal milestones that players from both sides will be aiming for:
The former captain recently came out of international retirement and was back in the team that lost to Namibia earlier this week. He currently has 1101 ODI runs for the Scots, enough to hold down third place in the all-time scorers’ list for his country. He’ll be looking for 131 more to surpass former England/Scotland dual international Gavin Hamilton in second spot. The man who replaced Mommsen as captain, Kyle Coetzer, is in first place.
Somerset spinner Davey is only available for the second game in the series, but he’ll be aiming for 4 wickets in that game to take him to 50 in the 50-over format.
Keeper and opening batsman (and MCC Young Cricketer) Matt Cross has taken 47 catches in ODIs for Scotland, so just three more will notch up a half-century of grabs.
Quick bowler Mpofu currently has 85 ODI wickets in his 76 appearances for Zimbabwe, a tally which sees him sit in seventh place in his country’s wicket takers list. Three more will see him overtake all-rounder Guy Whittall who took 88 wickets in his 147 games as part of Zimbabwe’s succesfull team of the late 1990s.
Hot on the heels of both Chris and Guy is current skipper, spin bowler Graeme Cremer, who has 84 wickets in ODIs.
Batsman Waller needs 36 runs to bring up 1000 in ODIs