Cricket team practicing fielding drills on grass pitch. Cricket team practicing fielding drills on grass pitch.

Mighty England set to face Scotland in a battle of ‘Auld Enemies’

The two neighboring countries, England and Scotland, might be unequal in terms of competence but they share a historic sporting rivalry. The two sides are all set to come up against each other in their respective opening match of the 2024 T20 World Cup in Bridgetown, Barbados.

England arrive at this edition of the T20 World Cup roughly 8 months after an embarrassing title defense in India at the 2023 ODI World Cup. However, Jos Buttler’s side would know that their performance at the mega event last year means nothing in the context of this tournament as they prepare to start their campaign after a 2-0 series win against Pakistan leading up to this World Cup.

Jos Buttler not only has a perfectly balanced team at his service but will also enjoy the luxury of having in-from players including himself and Phil Salt, along with the return of star bowler Jofra Archer. The pair of Mark Wood and Archer is arguably the fastest pace duo of the tournament and to top it up, Reece Topley will be crucial adding to the variety of this attack. 

The dominance of England in white-ball cricket should always be admired, however, one must not forget that they also have the habit of losing to sides they are not supposed to. One such defeat came in the 2023 ODI World Cup against Afghanistan and one in the previous edition of the T20 World Cup against Ireland. Not to mention that the world witnessed perhaps the greatest-ever English white ball side led by Eoin Morgan lose to Scotland back in 2018.

Seven of the Scotland players present in the famous 2018 victory remain in the squad this time around. They have reached the mega event after winning six out of six games in the regional qualifiers in Edinburgh, including a win over Ireland which sealed their position at the top of the table.

The pitch at Bridgetown is the same on which the low-scoring thriller between Namibia and Oman was played with Namibia getting past Oman after a super-over, courtesy of David Wiese’s heroics. The surface is a slow one with the ball holding in the surface now and then. The conditions might just favor Scotland as the English players will look to go hard and anything that sticks in the surface can provide an opening for the underdogs. 

England played a warm-up series against Pakistan prior to the tournament, however, with rain washing out two of the four matches, the preparations were surely compromised. Archer’s return to the side has surely provided the boost England needed for their bowling attack. Buttler is also likely to prefer Topley over Wood as the conditions would probably demand constant change of pace rather than the other way round. 

For Scotland, they do have plenty of experience from their last two campaigns alongside some new faces such as Brad Currie who finished as the leading wicket-taker at last year’s European Qualifiers. Micheal Jones can find himself opening alongside George Munsey, with Brandon McMullen, Richie Berrington the skipper, and Matt Cross forming the middle order.