JERSEY put up a valiant effort in a back-and-forth game against one of the pre-tournament favourites to win the ICC U19 European World Cup qualifier.
After the disappointment of seeing their opening match with Norway abandoned without a ball being bowled because of the rain, Jersey went into this clash with Scotland looking to kick-start their campaign and ignite their World Cup dream.
With just one qualification spot up for grabs from the six-team single-round-robin tournament, yesterday’s match against Scotland was likely to be the key test for Jersey if they were to progress.
There is still plenty of cricket left in the competition – and, on this evidence, Jersey will be a match for all teams at the tournament – but Scotland took a giant leap towards securing a spot in the U19 World Cup next year in Sri Lanka.
Each time Scotland looked like motoring away and taking a firm grip on the match, Jersey hit back and stayed in touching distance.
But every time the Islanders looked like wrestling back control, the Scots found an answer.
Batting first, Scotland attacked the powerplay and despite opener Alec Price falling for 17 to the bowling of Jersey captain Will Perchard, Jamie Dunk was in fine form at the other end.
Scotland reached 100/1 but Jersey’s Louis Kelly came to the party to stem the flow. Kelly got the breakthrough of Owen Gould before bowling Bahadar Esakhiel the very next ball.
Kelly picked up his third a couple of overs later – the wicket of Uzair Ahmad – and suddenly Scotland were wobbling at 125-4.
A 40-run partnership between Harry Armstrong and danger man Dunk went some way to stopping the Jersey charge but when Dunk was removed by George Richardson for a well-made 87, the Islanders sensed their chance to keep their target to around 220.
But they hadn’t counted on Mackenzie Jones, coming in at seven, who cracked an unbeaten half-century at better than a run a ball. Jones and Aditya Hegde put on 79 for the eighth wicket to take Scotland from 178-7 to 257-8. Hegde fell late on, as did Nikhil Koteeswaran, but by then Scotland had taken their score to 276-9.
In reply, Jersey opener Jack Kemp was dismissed for ten, but Stan Norman and Perchard got the boys in red off to a strong start.
Norman fell eight runs short of his half-century, although Perchard and Charlie Brennan kept Jersey in touch with the run rate.
But a magical over from Scotland’s Price swung the game away from Jersey once again, just when it looked like as though were on course for a famous win.
Price took the vital wicket of Brennan, who made 38, before also dismissing Charley Webster and Jack Stevens. In the space of one over, Jersey had gone from 153-2 to 153-5.
With Perchard – who by this stage had passed his 50 – still at the crease, the Caesareans were still in with a chance but the run rate was creeping up and the skipper needed to be the one to take on the brunt of the hitting.
It would be Price once again who hurt Jersey as he dismissed Perchard for 64 to leave Jersey seven down.
Ultimately, Scotland would wrap up the tail and claim what, on paper, might appear to be a comfortable 70-run win but was, in reality, an intriguing battle.