England v Scotland, ICC World Twenty20 warm-up

Proud Hamilton defiant over Blain altercation

Alex Brown at The Oval

June 2, 2009

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Colin Smith plays the reverse sweep, England v Scotland, ICC World Twenty20 warm-up match, Trent Bridge, June 2, 2009
Colin Smith top-scored for Scotland with 45 from 32 © Associated Press
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Scotland have proven they are capable of fighting opposing teams with the same ferocity they do each other. A day removed from the bitter bust-up between captain Gavin Hamilton and seamer John Blain - a tiff that prompted the latter to withdraw from the tournament - the Scots troubled England just enough to prompt a few nervous glances from group rivals New Zealand and South Africa.

"Gavin Hamilton's got a good unit there that will cause a lot of sides some proper problems," opined Paul Collingwood, after England crept to a six-wicket victory with six balls to spare. "I think a lot of the minnows, as we call them, are going to upset a few of the bigger teams. It can happen in Twenty20 cricket. In conditions like that, the smaller sides will come into the game a lot more."

It wasn't a polished display from Scotland, but no one expected it to be. This is a team of nudgers and grafters, albeit one that in the limited confines of a 20-over match can prove troublesome for more revered opponents.

In all likelihood, Scotland will not survive beyond the weekend, but at the very least they have managed to douse the flames of a row that might have consumed other teams whole. Hamilton, with refreshing candour, revealed after Tuesday's match that a clarion call for improved team work ethic prompted the altercation with Blain. The bowler, who felt singled out by the claim, promptly abandoned ship, but the discipline of Tuesday's performance indicated the remainder of the Scotland squad are committed enough to go down with it.

"Me and Blainy had a big fall-out, it's nothing too serious and it's not what it's made out to be," Hamilton said. "He was literally only with us one day so we can't say we miss him. We've still got to discuss this but I'm not going to discuss it with him during this tournament, I've got enough on my plate. We've got 14 guys who I think are very much behind me and the John Blain thing will be dealt with after.

"Cricket's going forward at such a rate of knots that if we don't move forward, we'll be left behind, and that was what the team talk was about. I've been pushing for our bowlers to mix it up, because otherwise these batters will just line you up, and that's all it was: Blainy disagreed with the way I went about it and I've made no bones about being aggressive in the way I go about things. Every other person took it and has responded absolutely superbly to it, except Blainy, so he took me aside in the hotel and said he was going home, and I certainly wasn't going to stand in his way."

In the end, the sweeping blade of Kevin Pietersen proved too much for a Scotland bowling line-up that maintained disciplined lines to England's top-order. Pietersen, too, knows a thing or two about internal squabbles and, crucially, how to emerge from them. The Scots can empathise.

"He's obvioiusly raring to go," Collingwood said of Pietersen. "He's had a few weeks off through injury. He's got the buzz about him and a big smile on his face. I thought it was a real mature innings from him tonight, and we're going to need more of them."

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

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