Josh Davey has 14 wickets at this World Cup. Josh Davey is the leading wicket-taker at this World Cup. There is every chance, until a couple of weeks ago, you had no idea who Josh Davey is.
The problem for the Associate cricketers at the tournament is people learn who you are. Davey is a former middle-order batsman for Middlesex with seven wickets to his name in first-class cricket. No one who hadn’t played against Davey before had any idea what sort of a player he was. There was no reason too.
But as the tournament goes on, people look at you. Even when Marvan Atapattu admitted before the game that Sri Lanka hadn’t done much research on the Scottish, they had done some. They had four previous games to go on. They would have watched them.
Then there is the media. Davey is not a confident speaker but, as equal sixth on the wicket-taking list coming in to this game, he was put up for interview. His name was mentioned in most preview pieces and, if he walked around Hobart this morning, he would have seen his words – “SCOTLAND WARY OF MALINGA THREAT” – plastered on Hobart Mercury billboards.
Josh Davey, and Scotland, have entered a new world. They are the most prepared and professional team that Scotland has ever had. They came within a Shapoor Zadran shuffle across the stumps of their first-ever World Cup win. When New Zealand went for a net-run-rate jaunt, they took seven wickets off them. They gave away what could have been a chaseable target against England, and made over 300 against Bangladesh, before failing to get enough wickets.
But they haven’t won a game. Here, the second the ball didn’t swing, they weren’t going to win.
Davey was targeted by the Sri Lankans. Afterwards, Kyle Coetzer said he wasn’t – but Sri Lanka had 36 runs off nine overs, then hit 10 off Davey’s first over. They knew about him. Maybe they hadn’t done hours of research but they knew enough that he was Scotland’s wicket-taker and their biggest hope of an upset. Associate cricketers can’t surprise after four games of a World Cup. Without swing, his 125kph wasn’t going to bring down Kumar Sangakkara or Tillakaratne Dilshan. After five overs, Davey had gone for 48.
At one stage, Dilshan got down to sweep Davey, the bowler dropped short and Dilshan just pulled him from the same position. It went for six.
Other than Rob Taylor, Scotland’s bowlers were often treated much like that. Lahiru Thirimmane called them weak and medium-pacers. Alasdair Evans is the only Scotland bowler that Matthew Cross didn’t stand up to the stumps for. He bowled well for practically all of the game, taking 1 for 26 from his first six overs. Then the seventh over happened. This was not a rest over, it was biblical.
Third man was up. Third man was back. Third man was up. Third man was back. All in one over. Preston Mommsen was trying to find the right fielding format to stop Sangakkara, and working out that nothing stops Sangakkara, not a Mack truck, not an asteroid, not a shark-octopus hybrid, nothing. Not even a revolving third man.
The first five balls went six, four, four, four, four, with a wide thrown in as well. Evans had tried bowling tricks and fielding positions, but there was nothing that could stop Kumar.
By the time they got to the last ball, Mommsen had no men back on the leg side. Evans moved from around the wicket to over. It was the most telegraphed wide full ball ever bowled, but there were no more options. Sangakkara moved across to hit it to the leg side, as every single person in the ground expected. He tried to tickle it around the corner. Taylor at short fine leg saw this, and just turned and ran towards the boundary. He was several steps in that direction before he realised the ball hadn’t gone to the boundary but had just been mishit to backward square.
You know you are struggling as a side when your players turn and head to the boundary before the ball has been delivered.
Scotland passed 200 for the third time in this tournament, and the third time in their entire World Cup history. Their batsmen were not annihilated; they generally helped in their dismissals. When Mommsen and Freddie Coleman were together, you saw the best of Scotland. The problem was their partnership was more than half the total score.
When they were bowling to Sri Lanka in the batting Powerplay, Mommsen had to turn back to Davey. With fine leg up, and a backward square in the circle as well, Davey’s first ball was a wide that missed leg stump by a considerable distance. With third man up, the next ball was wide of off stump and guided for four. The third, he had Dilshan out. Later he would take the wickets of Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara in the same over.
His figures would read 3 for 68, with three of Sri Lanka’s all-time greats in his pocket. But he wasn’t even trusted to finish his entire ten overs. And his wickets came when the total was already too big for Scotland to chase. His entire day was Scotland’s tournament so far.
They’ll be happy with what they have, but they wanted so much more.
Josh Davey has bowled 22 wides at this World Cup. Josh Davey is the leading wide-deliverer at this World Cup. There is every chance, after this Saturday, that you will never see Josh Davey at this level again.