Empire v Scotland, Bridgetown March 16, 2006

Scotland slide to a second defeat

Cricinfo staff

Empire 231 for 7 (Holder 47, Wiggins 45, Watson 2-47, Nel 2-23) beat Scotland 226 for 9 (Hamilton 49, Blain 40, Nurse 3-38, Wiggins 2-38, Stoute 2-45) by five runs

Scotland again narrowly missed the chance to beat local opposition before their big games against a Barbados XI and a West Indian Select XI.

On a hazy morning at the Police cricket ground in Bridgetown, Craig Wright again won the toss but this time elected to field against Empire Cricket Club, the Barbados league champions. Dougie Brown, Colin Smith and Paul Hoffmann were rested.

The home side's openers put on 58 before the first wicket fell to John Blain, courtesy of a good catch by Dewald Nel at mid-on. With only one more run scored, Gavin Hamilton held on to a steepler off the bowling of Wright.

However, despite the best efforts of Gordon Goudie, Nel and Wright, a good partnership developed between Ryan Wiggins (45) and Alcindo Holder (47). The next wicket did not fall until 144, by which time the spinners, left-armer Ross Lyons (1 for 31 from 10 overs) and off-break specialist Ryan Watson (2 for 47 from 10), were wheeling away in tandem.

Wickets fell regularly thereafter and, thanks to a tight final few overs - and both wickets - from Nel (2 for 23 from seven), Empire finished on 231 for 7 in their 50 overs, which could have been a lot lower had all missed catches been taken.

Opening the Scotland innings again, Hamilton and Kyle Coetzer opened brightly. But when Coetzer was out at 34 to a good diving catch by King, the Empire keeper, and Darren Spink followed two balls later, trapped in front by Ryan Nurse, the Scotland innings became bogged down.

Hamilton and Fraser Watts took the score to a reasonable 82 after 20 overs when Watts was caught for 29 with the score on 98 in the 24th over. He was soon followed by Ryan Watson (9) and Dougie Lockhart (0), both also caught off the bowling of Stoute. The key wicket of Hamilton - caught and bowled for 49 - left Wright (27) the task of trying to marshal his remaining batters for a forlorn run chase, and only John Blain and Dewald Nel (11) showed any sort of initiative with the bat.

Only 17 were needed off the final two overs, and nine off the last , but going for a dramatic victory Blain was caught off a skier off the penultimate ball for 40, leaving six needed off the final delivery. It was not to be.

With better running between the wickets and a quicker appreciation of a run, Scotland could, and should, have won this match. They will now have to contend with an old friend in the next two matches... Floyd Reifer is likely to be playing for Barbados.