February 23, 2015 1:04:00 am
On September 17, Scotland’s cricket captain Preston Mommsen retweeted Barack Obama. ‘The UK is an extraordinary partner for America and a force for good in an unstable world. I hope it remains strong, robust and united.-bo’. (Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
Those were tense days of debates between Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister then, and Alistair Darling, chairman of Better Together campaign. Scotland went for a referendum to decide whether to stay with UK or be an independent nation and in the end, the people chose to stay with country.
Mommsen voted to stay with UK. On Sunday, at the idyllic Hagley Park, ahead of the clash against England, the “Auld” rival, Mommsen talked to The Indian Express about his decision.
“It was purely an economical decision. I wasn’t convinced that going separate ways was to our benefit. Even as a cricketer, it wasn’t! Some of us play in county cricket, and if we become a separate nation, we won’t be able to play as ‘domestic’ player in county but the decision wasn’t about that of course. It was bigger and wasn’t made easily.”
In contrast to Ireland and Wales, Scotland was never conquered militarily but they culturally assimilated themselves to the English. In his book, ‘The making of English National Identity, Krishan Kumar wrote: “The Scots were not conquered by the English; they ‘Englished’ themselves.” Centuries later, that identity is at stake, despite the way this referendum went. The intense rivalry comes out in sport, as it often does first, especially in more popular sports of rugby and football.
“I have been to Murrayfield for a Scotland-England clash, and the passion that’s on display there is pretty awesome, and hopefully that’ll come out again tomorrow,” Mommsen said. “We’re up for this game. We’ve got a very passionate 15 players who will fight tooth and nail for every run and try and save every run in the field, as well. We’ll be fighting for it tomorrow. There’s no doubt about that. We want to win this game.”
No pussyfooting about ‘we will try our best’ and ‘we want to compete’ stuff. Hopefully, Scotland will be able to turn in an inspiring performance. It’s England, though, who are under great pressure. No one is going to question the Scots if they lose but England will be under the hammer. A classic lose-lose situation for them in this game.
With England, there is also an element of condescension almost with the way some of their public regard ODI game. At times, they give the impression they don’t care much for the ‘pyjama cricket’ and the question was asked to Ian Bell on Sunday.
“One-day cricket is taken very seriously at home, I think. We want to win a major 50-over tournament. I’m sure that people are very upset with what happened the other day. There’s no doubt we were absolutely gutted about the performance. We expect people at home to be angry about that performance,” Bell said.
And so he apologised for “terrible cricket”. Somehow, though, their terrible cricket doesn’t really surprise. Their ODI game has been insipid. Occasionally, on a good day, their bowlers do turn out inspiring performances and create something but more often than not, their batting just meanders along without much direction or purpose. However, they will be really g’eed up for this game against Scotland but it will be fascinating to see how they perform.
Can Scotland cause an upset? The first question at the press meet caught the prevalent mood pretty well. “There’s never been a better time to take on England, has there?” was the question and both Mommsen and Scotland’s coach Grant Bradburn, the former Blackcap, agreed. You get the impression that this Scotland team does think they can cause quite a bit of flutter on Monday.
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