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Scotland defeated by lack of experience

Perhaps, if Freddie Coleman had been a foot closer at cover when Moeen Ali, on 7, drove uppishly, things might have been different.

Or perhaps, if Rod Tucker's finger had gone up when Ian Bell, also on 7, was rapped on the pad by a delivery from Alasdair Evans, Scotland may have exposed England's fragile middle order.

But such moments apart, this game rarely looked as if it would spark into life. A sublime century from Moeen killed off Scotland's hopes before the bacon sandwiches had been devoured. For most of the day, in this charming parkland setting, as two relatively modest teams completed a result that seemed all but inevitable about an hour in, this game seemed as far away from the cut and thrust of the World Cup as Christchurch to London. Neither of these sides will be in Melbourne on March 29.

It is traditional after such encounters to praise the plucky loser; the little Associate taking on the giant Full Member.

But such a view is patronising. This is a global tournament and if Scotland really do want to be regarded as a fully professional elite team, they must accept the slings and arrows that come with the territory.

The truth is that Scotland should be disappointed with this performance. They will know, on reflection, that they are better than the 15 wides they conceded here. And they will know, on reflection, that several of their batsmen paid for a lack of composure with soft dismissals. What did Richie Berrington, flicking to midwicket, or Preston Mommsen, sweeping to deep backward square, think would happen when they hit the ball in the air? All 10 of their wickets fell to catches; several were simple sucker punches.

Ian Bell will receive some stick for his patient half-century. But his innings - an uncharacteristically ugly innings by his standards - was one of the key differences between these teams. While he had the wisdom to understand that his side, bowled out in 13 of their previous 19 ODIs, could be exposed if he fell early on a two-paced pitch, and the patience and humility to build a partnership with the far more fluent Moeen, Scotland's batsmen were flustered and fooled. They played as a young Bell might have done. Bell with 150 fewer ODI caps.

Instead of allowing themselves time to build innings, they sought release shots that brought their downfall. Instead of Coleman remaining on the midwicket boundary, as he was surely asked to, he allowed himself to be sucked in by the excitement of the encounter and then saw the ball pass agonisingly over his head and land on the boundary rope. And picking an XI with only four bowlers? Well, it's an accident waiting to happen.

So Scotland did not do themselves justice. And for many years to come, the players involved may look back and rue something of a missed opportunity.

But this World Cup appearance must not be the destination for Scotland. It must be another step on their journey.

They have passed this way before and failed to take the opportunity. Not just in failing to win any games - they are still without a World Cup win - but in failing to build the structures required back home to ensure progress.

In their recently published - and highly recommended - book Second XI - cricket in its outposts by Tim Wigmore and Peter Miller, we are reminded of May 1999, when Scotland and Bangladesh met in a World Cup match at The Grange in Edinburgh.

It was an eagerly anticipated encounter. The two were seen as the best Associates sides in the world at the time and both were pushing for more international recognition.

For a while it seemed Scotland would win. They reduced Bangladesh to 26 for 5 and then, when chasing 186 to win later in the day, were poised on 138 for 6 when disaster struck. Gavin Hamilton, batting fluently on 63, was run out backing up as Manjural Islam laid a finger on Alec Davies' drive and the ball deflected onto the stumps. Bangladesh went on to win and, about a year later, were awarded Test status.

Scotland took a different journey. From that high point, their team fell apart. As an amateur organisation, they had few of the systems to scout or develop players, few of the systems to arrange meaningful games and few of the systems to source the finance required to grow. They meandered for a while. In attempting a short-cut to success, they at one stage sent out a faintly embarrassing letter to all county cricketers (including William Porterfield, the Ireland captain) asking if they might qualify for Scotland through an ancestor.

But that has all changed. Twice in the last five years, Scotland have won the Best Overall Development Programme at the ICC's awards. There are around 50,000 cricketers in the country - more than Ireland - and plans to build a centre of excellence at Stirling which will be the home of Scotland cricket.

Like England, they are challenged by a lack of cricket in schools and little cricket on free-to-air TV. But participation numbers are growing, the number of schools playing the game is growing, the investment in the game has grown and the days when they looked to source their players from South Africa or Australia have gone. Nine of this team have played county cricket. Six of them are currently connected with counties and one more - Iain Wardlaw - has chosen not to pursue county opportunities.

What this game showed us is that Scotland have the talent to compete with England. They were not blown away; they were defeated by their lack of exposure to the circumstances. They were defeated, as much by Moeen's batting, as the failure of any Full Member nation - other than England - to play them since the start of 2014. With more opportunity to play such matches, they could gain the assurance and composure required to win. Experience is the missing ingredient.