As they pursue qualification for the 2025 World Cup, the Scottish women made history as they battled it out with Ireland in their first One Day International match in 20 years.
17 October 2023 etched its place into Scottish cricket history when the Scotland women’s cricket team played their first-ever One Day International (ODI) match in 20 years. The cherry on top of the momentous occasion at Desert Springs, Almeria, Spain, was the team’s 40-run win over the Irish women’s cricket team.
Batting first, the Scottish team was driven by captain Kathryn Bryce’s impressive 78 off 103 balls to post 211 in the first 50 overs. Wicketkeeper and opener Sarah Bryce gave the team a good start but fell short of her maiden 50 by eight runs. The rest of the team could not muster much as the Irish bowling attack kept a tight noose by picking up wickets at regular intervals. No batters other than Kathryn Bryce and Sarah Bryce could cross the 20-run mark.
Coming in to bat second, Ireland got a stable start, thanks to opener Leah Paul. However, Paul, like Sarah Bryce, fell short of her fifty, getting out at 43. Middle-order batters Orla Prendergast and Arlene Kelly played some handsome strokes to take Ireland close to the target but the women in green eventually fell short by 40 runs. Medium Pacer Hannah Rainey had the best bowling figures for Scotland as she picked up three crucial scalps of Ireland’s Amy Hunter, Rebecca Stokell, and Ava Canning to put them on the back foot.
The more experienced Irish team managed to make a comeback by winning the next two games and taking home the series. Some of the better performances from the Scottish side in those games came from Kathryn Bryce who scored two more fifties. The skipper smashed 67 off 58 in the second ODI and 83 off 108 balls in the third ODI as she led her side from the front. Other than that, Hannah Rainey picked up a crucial five-wicket haul in the third ODI which Scotland lost by 33 runs.
Scotland’s journey towards World Cup cricket may have begun on a sour note, but there are plenty of positives to take away. The 2025 Women’s World Cup in India is significant in multiple ways for Scotland. Scotland alongside the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, and the USA gained the ICC’s ODI status as part of the revamped Cricket World Cup qualification pathway last year, giving them a chance to fight for their place in the eight-team tournament.
The qualification for the World Cup features the ICC Women’s Championship (IWC) consisting of the world’s 10 best ODI women’s teams. The five best teams as well as the hosts (India in 2025) will qualify for the World Cup directly. Meanwhile, the other teams as well as the five associate teams including Scotland will fight for the remaining two spots in the qualifier in 2025.
The last time Scotland’s women’s cricket team played an official ODI game was back in 2003. This was in the 2003 IWCC Trophy which basically acted as the qualifying tournament for the 2005 Women’s Cricket World Cup. Their only victory back then came against a lowly Japanese side. But since then, the Scottish women have been languishing in the qualifying tournaments without too much to smile at.
Earlier this year, Cricket Scotland gave professional contracts to nine women’s players in a landmark moment for the women’s game. Abbi Aitken-Drummond, Priyanaz Chatterji, Katherine Fraser, Lorna Jack, Ailsa Lister, Megan McColl, Orla Montgomery, Hannah Rainey, and Ellen Watson all received contracts for the 2023-24 season.
Speaking on the subject, Interim Head of Performance Toby Bailey said, “Given the rapid growth of women’s cricket across the world, promotion, and investment in the women’s game in Scotland is now a cornerstone of the strategy for the organisation and today’s news is a big step on the road to ensuring that cricket in Scotland is fair and inclusive for all. Our new setup will enable those players from the women’s squad who have signed to devote more time to training and practice and we believe this is a major move towards putting the women’s game onto a fully professional footing.”
Scotland’s men’s team has already shown that the country has a sufficient pedigree of players and is capable of generating enough interest among people via their impressive performances at the 2023 Men’s World Cup qualifiers. The Scottish gents defeated full-members Ireland, West Indies and Zimbabwe. They only lost to eventual qualifying side, Netherlands, in a nail-biting fixture to miss out on the quadrennial event. A total of 14 men’s players including captain Richie Berrington already have central contracts with Cricket Scotland. From the progress of the men’s and women’s cricket, with their newfound ODI status, it certainly looks as though the future of Scottish cricket seems to be only going forward.