A Kentish cricketer played for Scotland as they won one of two matches against Sri Lanka at The County Ground, Beckenham, writes Andrew McSteen.
Seamer Alasdair Evans played as Scotland won their first-ever match against Sri Lanka, who were warming up for the ICC Champions Trophy at Kent’s metropolitan base in front of more than 1,000 spectators.
Evans was born to Scottish parents in Pembury before moving to Edinburgh at an early age and becoming part of the Scotland set-up at Under-13 level.
He made his ODI debut against Canada in 2011 at the age of 20, and despite having lived most of his life north of the border, the 28-year-old still feels an affinity with the county of his birth.
The right-arm fast-medium bowler said: “I was born down in Pembury, near Sevenoaks, and I spent the first three-four years of my life down here.
“I have very few memories, but it’s nice coming back here, although I don’t do it that often – not as often as I should.
“I do remember when I was a youngster being asked by a coach what I wanted to do when I grew up and I said I would love to play for Kent, but that never happened and I later played for Derbyshire.”
Sri Lanka were to be upset in the beautiful, sunny conditions in Sunday’s first match as Scotland victory as opening pair of Kyle Coetzer and wicket-keeper batsman Matthew Cross scored stunning centuries, chasing down Sri Lanka’s 287 total easily with seven overs and seven wickets to spare.
Evans took three wickets for 62 off 8.5 overs including the vital first wicket of the day, when Upul Tharanga played on to his stumps with the score on 35. Evans later took the wickets of Thisara Perera and Nuwan Pradeep.
“We were on a massive high – it was an excellent result and performance,” said Evans, who played for Derbyshire from 2012-13.
“Crossy and Kyle took all the limelight and rightly so, but it was a real team effort, we knew that was required to get across the line against a full member country and we quietly celebrated that, but got back to our work on Monday ready for the next game.”
Even though officially not an ICC-recognised international match, the defeat for Sri Lanka – joint winners of the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy with India – put a spanner in their preparations for the Champions Trophy.
But they came back strongly in the second match on Tuesday (23 May), winning by nine wickets after they bowled out the Scots, wearing black armbands out of respect for the Manchester bomb attack victims, for 166 before Upul Tharanga and Kusal Mendis helped Sri Lanka cruise to a nine-wicket victory.
“We wanted to use all the momentum we could from Sunday but unfortunately we couldn’t quite harness that,” said Evans who, in the second match, managed to knock 22 runs off 39 balls and take the solitary wicket of opener Niroshan Dickwella, caught by Mark Watt, to end on 1 for 29 off six overs.
The County Ground in Beckenham, was first used by the Kent XI in 1954 when it hosted the County Championship match against Gloucester and continues the long history of Kent in the town, with home matches previously played around the corner at Foxgrove Road between 1885 and 1905.
The ground was part of the historical county of Kent but now falls within the borders of the London Borough of Bromley, however the investment and relaunch of the ground continues the county’s promotion and commitment with playing cricket in outgrounds.
International cricket is no stranger to the County Ground with two women’s One Day Internationals taking place during the 1993 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup (New Zealand beating England by 25 runs and West Indies beating Denmark by 44 runs.
The West Indies men beat Kent in a 91-run tour match in 2004, thanks to an unbeaten 68 from the legendary Brian Lara.
“It’s a great part of the world and the locals really came and supported us,” said Evans about returning to Kent.
“They really know the game down here and support it thoroughly, and, especially on Sunday it was a great carnival atmosphere – the Sri Lankans get great support wherever they go.
“There was a definite feeling of goodwill towards the Scottish and there was support for us on both days.
“We’re really grateful for that and hopefully we paid them back a little bit with that victory.”
Kent return to The County Ground, Beckenham to play Northamptonshire in the Specsavers County Championship (3-7 July) and Essex Eagles in the T20 Blast (9 July) before two NatWest T20 women’s XI matches on 30 July