T20 World Cup Qualifier: Jersey still in the hunt in Scotland

T20 World Cup Qualifier: Jersey still in the hunt in Scotland
Jersey finished on 135-9 against Scotland in their second match - credit ICC/Cricket Scotland

Jersey head into Sunday's clash against Italy with little margin for error, as they continue their bid to reach the T20 World Cup for the first time.

Two sides from this week's seven-team European qualifying tournament in Scotland will earn berths at next summer's global event in the West Indies and America. The likes of England, Australia and India lie in wait.

With a record so far of played two, won one, lost one, Jersey's Edinburgh adventure is already one which has had its up and downs for supporters of the island team.

The narrow defeat by the hosts on Friday, by 14 runs, shows how far the group has come in recent years. A win would have been right up there as the biggest scalp in the island's cricketing history, and the Jersey boys weren't far away from pulling it off. They would certainly have fancied their chances when the Scots were struggling on 84-5 with 7.3 overs to go.

An unbeaten seventh-wicket stand of 61 between Chris Greaves and Mark Watt, though, took Scotland from 88-6 to post 149-6. Scotland captain Richie Berrington had earlier marked his 300th international appearance with 34 before he was caught by Josh Lawrenson off the bowling of Elliot Miles.

Jersey found themselves languishing on 27-3 after the power play, with openers Charlie Brennan, Harrison Carlyon and wicketkeeper Asa Tribe all back in the pavilion after just 22 balls of the chase.

Nick Greenwood and Jonty Jenner both went at more than a run-a-ball for their respective knocks of 36 and 29, but even the late hitting of Ben Ward (47*), who racked-up 20 off the last over, couldn't get Jersey over the line.

Jersey coach Neil MacRae told thegantry.je: "The overall feeling is frustration. We played good cricket in the field, both the bowling quality and the overall fielding standard was exceptional.

"We know tournament cricket, we've had six or seven tournament wins in the last few years and it takes a lot of courage and resilience from the players to come through the ups and downs in a tournament, deal with that and refocus on the next game. We've got experience of that and that's what we'll be doing.

Jersey fixtures and results (expand)

Thursday 20 July: Austria (Jersey won by 8 wickets), Friday 21 July: Scotland (Jersey lost by 14 runs), Sunday 23 July: Italy, Monday 24 July: Ireland, Tuesday 25 July: Germany, Friday 28 July: Denmark

"Everybody was very disappointed given the way we played in the first half of the game [against Scotland], but that game isn't coming back and we know that, so we just need to be focussed on Italy now."

It was a valiant effort from  MacRae's team, in a game that ebbed and flowed. Thursday's opener, against his former side Austria, had been a far more straightforward affair.

Having won the toss at the Grange, early wickets reduced the Austrians to 55-6 at the midway point, eventually going on to post 104-9. Young wicketkeeper Tribe played a part in three of the dismissals, including two stumpings off the bowling of Greenwood.

In reply, Jersey lost opener Carlyon in the second over, but Greenwood's half century and Jenner's 29, including four maximums, ensured the islanders reached the target with ease, inside only 9.2 overs. If net run rates come into the equation later in the tournament, this one will certainly have helped the cause.

Jersey are the third highest ranked team in this qualifier, sitting 21st in the world ratings system. To finish in the top two, and make it through to the T20 World Cup for the first time, they were always likely to need to beat Scotland, Ireland or both.

Jersey supporters with Jersey flags
Jersey supporters in Edinburgh have seen a win and a loss in their opening two games

While some supporters' minds might already start to drift towards Monday's potentially pivotal clash with the Irish, MacRae's men will need to be fully focussed on first bouncing back to beat Italy at Goldenacre on Sunday morning. "Italy have got a good side here, so we can't get too far ahead of ourselves," he said.

"They've got some county players and we've had some fiery encounters in the past, so that's possibly a good thing to focus the players' minds completely on that match.

"We'll certainly only be thinking about Italy come tomorrow (Sunday) morning, it's a big game and to bounce back from Scotland we need to improve on some areas, particularly with the bat, and make sure we do a good Italian job."

How the table looks after two days of action in Edinburgh

  1. Scotland P2 W2 L0 = 4pts
  2. Ireland P2 W2 L0 = 4pts
  3. Jersey P2 W1 L1 = 2pts
  4. Germany P2 W1 L1 = 2pts
  5. Italy P1 W0 L1 = 0pts
  6. Denmark P1 W0 L1 = 0pts
  7. Austria P2 W0 L2 = 0pts