The Scottish are a robust people, often taking a more stoic pride in defeat than in victory but this morning, in the immediate wake of their failure to qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup despite pushing traditional heavyweights West Indies all the way, defeat feels less a stoic reminder of life in a tough, unforgiving landscape than a bitter pill to swallow.
The much-criticized Duckworth-Lewis system handed the Windies a win by just five runs in rain-swept Harare but there’s a sentiment that the reduction in participants from 14 to 10 has come at a time when the associate nations like Scotland have improved and are able to challenge the lower-ranked ODI nations more consistently.
The fact of the matter is, with just one wicketless during their innings, Scotland would have been handed the win under the same Duckworth-Lewis method.
ICC under scrutiny
The ICC, under plenty of fire for their handling of the game at a number of levels now faces significant criticism from around the cricketing globe for their decision to restrict the number of nations battling it out in England when almost every major sport outside cricket has expanded their showpiece events, allowing the growth of sports across less established countries.
Captain Kyle Coetzer was proud of his team’s efforts in the wake of the loss, but his stoic resolve belied the crushing hurt that must come with getting so close to the Promised Land. Simply put, for all the gutsy performances and for the way they pushed the Windies so close, the Scottish players will go home with little more than pride and the sympathy of many while those of us with keyboards are left to lament a situation in which the ICC have thrust the global game with little rhyme or reason.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys, and we’ve shown we’re capable of competing,” Coetzer told ESPNCricInfo.
“A couple of decisions have hurt us, and there was one today that didn’t go our way. Our spin bowling has been exception (sic), it’s been up there with the best. The WI seam attack was good, so credit to them and credit to Jason (Jason Holder, Windies captain) and his team. Our boys, however, have been exceptional.”
That Scotland seamer Safyan Shareef was dubbed Man of the Match further illustrated just how well the Scots had performed. That they, along with the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland will be watching the action from home next year ranks as the sort of disappointment that crosses allegiance or support and impacts on cricket fans from all walks.
Throw in the fact that the final Scottish wicket to fall, that of 69-match veteran Richie Berrington was shrouded in controversy and, upon review of the footage looked to be a bad decision, and you have the perfect recipe for discontent.
Berrington had crafted his way to 33 runs from 67 balls before he was struck on the pad by Ashley Nurse. The delivery kept low and beat the bat but looked to have gone too far down leg-side to be hitting the stumps. Australian umpire Paul ‘Blocker’ Wilson disagreed, raising his finger and sending Berrington on his way.
Bad decisions will always be a part of the game, but combined with the other factors, it makes for tough reading.
The ICC is failing associate nations
Simply put, the ICC has fashioned itself completely around satisfying the biggest and most important stakeholders in the game.
Australia, India, South Africa and England sit atop the tree and nearly every decision made at an ICC level is around maximizing the opportunities for these sides to compete and make as much revenue as possible. I am entirely convinced that, if they could, boards like the ECB or Cricket Australia would book nothing but tours between each other and India and the ICC would have no issue with that despite the obvious detriment to the developing nations and those outside the inner circle.
Cutting down the World Cup and excluding more associate nations is the latest step and leaves a sour taste in the mouth.Credit must go to the West Indies for navigating a tricky qualifying tournament, but knowing that brave performers like Scotland will be sitting at home during the 2019 World Cup is disappointing.