Elementary for Watson as Scotland secure Trophy
Scotland 324 for 8 (Watson 94, Brown 59, Watts 55, Cooke 3-70) beat Ireland 277 for 9 (E Joyce 81, Bray 70, Wright 3-48)
Ryan Watson guided Scotland to their first ICC Trophy title after a commanding batting display, a miserly bowling performance and, to top it all, two crucial catches that broke Irish hope and heart.
Over 2,000 people packed into Clontarf CC hoping for a home victory on a pitch that has historically been a happy hunting ground. But news was not good from the outset as Jason Molins, their captain, failed a fitness test before the start - Kyle McCallan took over. He won the toss and that was the Irish high point.
Put in on a hazy morning, that turned into a muggy scorcher, Scotland had a blistering start. Pinch hitter Paul Hoffmann struck a brisk 22 with mostly his bottom hand and took any sting out of the Irish attack. With that early momentum, the Scots plundered - then feasted. McCallan's decision to bowl seemed more to do with a paucity of options as opposed to an aggressive modus operandi.
The result was an epic 324 for 8 in 50 overs. After the early fireworks, Fraser Watts and Watson added 120 with solid running, big hitting and ruthless punishing of anything loose. When McCallan brought himself on to take the pace off the ball with off-breaks Watson made his only mistake of the day - a suicidal single that accounted for Watts (55).
He may have carved Trent Johnston to point before completing a deserved hundred but Watson's 99-ball 94 was a superb innings. He never let the run rate drop, smashed anything slightly short or slightly wide and played with control that gave his more steady partner confidence.
The rest of the order hit hard, in particular Dougie Brown, formerly of England and currently of Warwickshire who made a powerful 59. Despite a flurry of late wickets from Gordon Cooke, who had earlier bowled short and been sent, Scotland's total always looked monumental.
But Ireland have their own first-class player, and he is serious quality. The local hero Ed Joyce needed to produce something magical if Ireland could overhaul the huge target. Batting at four, he was in the action early as Hoffmann, opening bowling after the batting, claimed the wickets of Dominic Joyce (brother) and Eoin Morgan (Middlesex staff) in the third over.
Bowling slow off-breaks he changed the pace and added control, which slowly suffocated the batsmen. With such a heavy target, a few dot balls can begin to asphyxiate - both lived dangerously, Joyce dropped three times (cover, keeper and midwicket), Bray once (slip). Eventually Bray broke at the other end, slog sweeping Gregor Maiden's medium pace to a delighted Watson at deep square-leg, out for 70.
All eyes were on Joyce. He did play beautifully for his 81, timing the ball down the ground, pushing into gaps and, while he was at the crease, anything was possible. One man can never do it on his own, and he fell sweeping Wright to deep backward square where who else but Watson took the decisive catch.
The remaining batsmen swung and missed, then swung and hit - Watson grabbed a wicket for good measure and despite an unbroken last wicket stand of 55 between Paul Mooney (22*) and Cooke (34*) the game was over, Scotland were home by 47 runs.
McCallan admitted the better side had won and had mixed emotions - disappointed to lose the final but elated to qualify for the World Cup. Craig Wright, his opposite number, was thrilled with yet another Scottish victory, saying: "For the future of the sport in Scotland, this is massive. I asked the team to take responsibility and they have. This time it has been comprehensive."
Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer