Thriller at Stormont goes down to the wire
When you can't bowl fast, bowl straight; when you can't bowl straight, pray the umpires forget to signal 'wide'. Today, neither umpire forgot. Wides, therefore - and by some margin - top-scored for both Scotland and then Jersey as the latter recorded an 'upset' over one of the pre-tournament favourites in a thrilling match at Stormont.
Chasing only 128 for victory, Jersey would lose as many as eight wickets, with injudicious pulls and ambitious drives keeping the Scots interested on a skidding Stormont pitch where only width allowed batsmen to score freely.
Batting first, Scotland would make the worst possible start, Matt Cross going too hard at Charles Perchard's fourth ball, but even with dangerman Freddie Coleman and Anjan Luthra also falling in quick succession, 50 was on the board before the first power play had finished.
That wickets continued to fall, however, undermined this quick start. Both Tom McBride and Neil Smith tried - and failed - to cut Ben Stevens, who bowled a beautiful ten-over spell of slow-left-armers, while James Faudemer - bowling his ten for just eighteen runs - dragged the scoring rate beneath 'threes' during the middle of the innings.
Aman Bailwal and Andrew Chalmers would fight it out, though, putting on the highest partnership of the match (29) to take the Scots past the hundred mark for five down. But when both fell within the space of ten minutes the tail was left exposed, and as Alexander Noel (3 for 9) cleaned it out, more than nine overs were left unused. An error, one would think, that was ultimately fatal to the Scottish cause.
Jersey would go into lunch at 12 for 1 - Daniel McAviney lost to a direct hit from Freddie Coleman - and started brightly after the break as Ben Stevens and Aidan McGuire ran well between the wickets. Yet as both fell trying to hook the deceptively sharp Aman Bailwal, the Channel Islanders were in trouble at 29 for 3.
This brought to the crease Tim de la Haye, the leading runs-scorer in the tournament, and - in the end - his 28 was probably the difference today. Made quickly in the context of this match (61 balls), he kept Jersey on course in spite the loss of Corey Bisson and the useful Corne Bodenstein, and when the hundred came up for five down Jersey were both in the driving seat and well ahead on Duckworth-Lewis.
The balance of power, however, was to swing back in Scotland's favour once more: first, de la Haye fell caught behind to Bailwal, 104 for 6; two runs later, Stephen Blackburn would go too, drawn forward and deceived by Freddie Coleman; within three overs Charles Perchard was back in the pavilion as well, cleaned up by Bailwal, the left-armer's fourth victim.
114 for 8, then, and though Jersey had plenty of time on their hands, the Scottish bowler who could bowl straight might well have been the match-winner. As it was, Thomas le Lievre and Alexander Noel crept and crawled towards 128: sharp but well-judged singles were taken; luck was on their side as miscues evaded the fielders, while - crucially - they hung around long enough to collect another five wides as Bailwal sent a full toss hurtling down leg.
The winning runs eventually came from a le Lievre cut shot, the ball racing across the lengthy Stormont square and far enough that the batsmen could get back for three. Understandably, this was met by an eruption from the enthusiastic Jersey supporters and although it wasn't pretty, although it wasn't neccesarily convincing, Jersey proved today they no longer need to play well to win big matches.