An increased level of intensity, thanks in part to exposure against Sri Lanka, is leading to better results for Scotland cricket according to allrounder Richie Berrington. Speaking after his side's 51-run win over Namibia, Berrington credited the aggressiveness of the team for playing a key role in coming out on top.
"I thought just the way we turned up today, the bowlers were excellent and had clear plans and just kept coming with that intensity which created chances throughout the innings," hetold ESPNcricinfo after the win. "It's something that our bowling attack have really been working on, bringing that intensity from ball one.
That intensity was personified best by 23-year-old fast bowler Chris Sole. Though he didn't bowl in the 5.1 overs of Namibia's innings completed on Sunday, Sole was given the ball right away for the resumption of play on Monday and turned in a hostile spell that ended with two wickets. One of those deliveries included a first-ball bouncer to Christi Viljoen that tagged the Namibia allrounder flush on the helmet, a sequence that set the tone for the rest of the day.
"Soley has done that excellently in the games he has played," Berrington said. "Looking back to [the win over] Sri Lanka as well, that's where he had a lot of success running in with that intent, so that's something he'll keep looking to do."
Berrington said the higher-intensity approach was also evident in the late surge in Scotland's own innings; he shared in a turbocharged stand of 101 in 9.4 overs with Preston Mommsen to rocket Scotland past 250. Berrington ended with a career-best 110 off 90 balls after having started on 14 off 35 balls. However, Berrington said the true catalyst for that surge was the earlier role played by Craig Wallace, who repeatedly pulled out a slog sweep for use, not just against Namibia's spinners but their medium pacers as well.
"The Namibian bowlers bowled really well after they got those two wickets, put us under a bit of pressure, bowled really tight lines which on that surface wasn't always easy to get away," Berrington said. "So it probably took us a bit longer to get ourselves in. Going on and off wasn't particularly easy but we're used to those kinds of scenarios. I think once we did come back on, Craig Wallace came in and managed to lift the intensity a bit which helped myself as well."
The wind also played a role in the match with the Berrington-Mommsen stand aided in part by their utilisation of a strong cross-breeze which made scoring easy on the eastern side of the ground. Namibia tried to get Scotland's batsmen playing against the turn to counter the breeze, but Berrington says their batsmen were not fazed taking on the left-arm spin of Bernard Scholtz.
"I think we do have to use the conditions here when it's windy like that because there is a big advantage to scoring on one side of the field at times," he said. "We back ourselves to hit strong areas of the field and for most of us that is a strong area. There wasn't particularly a lot of turn in the pitch so that wasn't a concern to be honest."
Conversely, Namibia captain Sarel Burger said he was disappointed with the shot selection of his top-order batsmen despite the wind being even more of an aid during their own innings on Monday. Tailender Zhivago Groenewald top-scored with 42 off 20 balls through orthodox strokeplay, further underscoring how good the pitch remained until the end of play, and Burger says his batsmen needed to show more responsibility.
"I think it was obviously very disappointing, especially in the top order, the shots the guys got out to," Burger said. "Besides the wind blowing in that direction, I think the shot selection itself wasn't that great. Early in the innings, the idea was for guys to get in and from there get going. Not getting in and spending time at the crease makes life even more difficult hitting into the wind. So I think it was the shot selection that was the bigger factor, not the wind itself."
"I felt 268 was always chaseable, especially looking at the condition of the wicket which was playing really good. The way Richie batted, it was a great innings he played and he kept the innings together and I think that's where Namibia fell a bit short. He took his time during the difficult stages while the ball was still new to get himself in. I think that made life a bit easier for him. Unfortunately on our side, we didn't have anyone taking responsibility hanging around for a while to do a similar type thing."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna