<
>

Mommsen, Berrington, Coetzer raise the bar after magical 1000

Only two other Scotland batsmen had crossed the 1000-run mark in ODIs before (left to right) Richie Berrington, Preston Mommsen and Kyle Coetzer Peter Della Penna

Scotland captain Preston Mommsen called the achievement of three Scotland players - himself, Kyle Coetzer and Richie Berrington - crossing 1000 career ODI runs in their 98-run win over UAE "pretty special". He also said the trio should now aim to become the first Scotland players to cross the 2000-run mark.

"I was quite surprised to hear that," Mommsen told ESPNcricinfo after being informed of the feat. "I think all three of us were. It was a nice little landmark and quite a nice thing that we could do it in the same game as well, so very happy."

Prior to Sunday, the only other Scotland players to achieve the mark were Neil McCallum and Scotland's all-time leader Gavin Hamilton, who sits at 1231 runs from 38 ODIs between 1999 and 2010. Mommsen said being in such esteemed company made the accomplishment all the more meaningful.

"It is pretty special," Mommsen said. "I think being one of the first five Scottish players ever to score 1000 runs in ODIs, that's something I'm very proud of. I'm sure the others are as well. There's no reason why we can't really push on and try and double that up and be the first guys to get to 2000."

Crossing 1000 ODI career runs may not sound like much in an era where players from Full Member nations regularly notch up the same number in a calendar year. However, it's important to put those milestones into context. Berrington, who took the longest of the three Scotland players to get to the mark, has played in 49 out of Scotland's 63 possible ODIs since making his debut in July 2008 against Ireland. Most other Full Member nations would have that many ODIs scheduled in two years rather than eight in Scotland's bare-bones fixture list.

Even when Scotland are able to secure precious ODI fixtures, the weather can wreak havoc on their plans, thus impacting players' career figures. Scotland have played 30 home ODIs since their inaugural match on home soil against Bangladesh in the 1999 World Cup though their first bilateral home contest was not until 2006 against Pakistan. Since 2006, Scotland have had six home ODIs washed out, and another three ending in no results. Overall, nine out of their 36 scheduled home ODI fixtures in history - 25 percent - have either been abandoned or unable to be completed.

To put those numbers into perspective, Australia have had a total of 420 home ODIs since the first one, against England in January 1971, with 13 ending in no results and a further four abandoned. That's just four percent of their home fixtures. The most weather-affected Full Member, Sri Lanka, are still some ways off from Scotland's percentage of rain-affected home matches. Since their first home ODI, in 1982, Sri Lanka have had a total of 232 ODIs at home, with 20 ending in no result and a further 10 abandoned for a 12.09-percent mark (Note: calculated as 30/248. The total of 248 games includes started matches, and abandoned and cancelled fixtures).

Taking into consideration the paucity of ODI fixtures for Associate teams in general, and the innate meteorological obstacles in front of Scotland on home soil, making 1000 ODI runs is a tremendous achievement for Mommsen, Coetzer and Berrington. The rarity of it highlights not just their skills but their longevity too, and each player has done it in contrasting styles.

Coetzer has made his name as a high-octane opener who, at times, can be high risk, high reward. His third ton on Sunday is now the most for Scotland in ODI cricket, with his other two coming against Afghanistan in 2013 and a majestic career-best 156 last year in the World Cup against Bangladesh. Coetzer, though, made light of the fact that he's just as capable of a low score, having made three ducks in his last four innings prior to Sunday's 127.

"It's obviously very special," Coetzer said after the game. "I think every one of the guys that have now passed 1000 runs, it's a special achievement. I guess, for me, I was more aware that I got a couple zeros leading into the game, but I just sort of seem to be either all or nothing at the moment. I was happy to just get off the mark, first of all, and then you just take it from there, but it's a very special day for a couple of us and it was nice for us all to do it on the same day."

Berrington is perhaps the most selfless and versatile of the three. He has Scotland's highest T20I score, opening the batting to make 100 off 58 balls against Bangladesh in 2012. In ODIs, he has batted anywhere from No. 4 to 7, shifting around to the needs of the team. His high score in ODIs came against Ireland in 2014, an unbeaten 101, but Mommsen paid tribute to Berrington's dynamic traits by calling a rapid 56 off 23 balls at No. 6 in a record Scotland chase, against Ireland in 2011 his most memorable knock.

"It's been brilliant sharing their careers. They've had some great occasions where they have won games in their own right," Mommsen said. "I can think of Richie Berrington's, I think it's one of the top ten quickest fifties I think he scored here against Ireland when we successfully chased 310 or something [sic 320], really gave us massive impetus in the back-end of the innings and ended up winning the game."

For Mommsen, shouldering the responsibility of captaincy has brought out the best in him to get him to the 1000-run mark, though he's done it with perhaps the least bit of fanfare. Upon reaching his century on Sunday, he seemed slightly reluctant to take off his helmet in saluting his team-mates and the crowd, giving a cursory nod and wave of the bat before carrying on with the final two overs, his focus locked in on finishing off the innings to help Scotland to a defendable total.

Just getting to today's moment for the three of them might not have been possible were it not for Mommsen's 78 against Kenya in the 2014 World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand. It was a paradoxical innings, a game of monumental importance, with ODI status and Scotland's professional future at stake, played in anonymity, away from any TV cameras, but one that Mommsen holds as his favourite moment along the way to reaching 1000 runs.

"That was playing literally for a place in the World Cup, playing for most of our careers, and full-time contracts probably would have been down the drain had we not won that game," Mommsen said. "So it was a very, very important game and we managed to get across the line and being able to contribute towards that is something I was very proud of."

Mommsen's ambition for the three of them to double up and get to 2000 ODI runs is a reasonable target, particularly with age mostly on their side - Mommsen is the youngest at 28, Berrington is 29 and Coetzer, 32 - but an enhanced fixture list is also a necessity. At the moment, Tuesday's rematch against the UAE, and a pair of ODIs against Hong Kong in September are the only remaining games on Scotland's plate for 2016. For next year, the only two ODIs locked in are against Papua New Guinea as part of the WCL Championship.

It's why a regulated fixture list as part of a proposed 13-team ODI league, including a guaranteed 36 ODIs over a three-year period, would mean the world to Associate teams like Scotland. Regardless of whether that happens though, players like Mommsen, Coetzer and Berrington will continue to make the most of the opportunities in front of them.