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    It's a good reset for Cricket Scotland
It's a good reset for Cricket Scotland
Chamari Athapaththu-led Sri Lanka and Kathryn Bryce-led Scotland are assured of a spot in the Women's T20 World Cup 2024. Source: Getty Images

It's a good reset for Cricket Scotland

The quiet told the story, not so much that it was there, but where it came from.

Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce had just removed dangerous Irish openers Amy Hunter and Gaby Lewis in the first five balls of the innings, and when the favourites found themselves five wickets down for just 25 at the start of the seventh over, Bryce had claimed four of them.

It was a collapse from which Ireland never fully recovered and, needing just 111 to secure Scotland's first-ever World Cup appearance, opener Megan McColl and Bryce mowed down most of the target between them, the latter securing victory with a four to make history.

Bryce talks to ESPNcricinfo's Powerplay podcast. She recalls the impact of those early Irish wickets:

"There was probably a bit of silence almost and they can be quite vocal from the sidelines. But we had a huge amount of support as well. When you get a couple of early wickets in a really important match like that, it can stun a team a little bit.”

Most observers saw Scotland's victory in the semi-final of the T20 Women's World Cup qualifiers as an upset, with Ireland expected to join Sri Lanka in claiming the two qualifying places for October's tournament in Bangladesh. But not Bryce, the player of the series, who ended up missing the final - won by Sri Lanka - with a minor niggle.

Scotland had beaten Ireland in the last T20I to draw the two-match series in Desert Springs, Spain, in October and won the first of three ODIs between the teams immediately before that.

Bryce says the fact that the points tables in both qualifying groups were tight at the top is a testament to the growth of the women's game. In the other semi-final, the United Arab Emirates took Sri Lanka to the wire before losing by just 15 runs, and Vanuatu shocked Zimbabwe on the opening day of the tournament despite being ranked 18 places lower and having to crowdfund their own equipment.

Scotland's achievements are also significant in the context of a sport that was largely broken a year ago, facing financial difficulties and reeling from a report in July 2022 that found Cricket Scotland to be institutionally racist. As recently as March this year, another report found "high levels of prejudice against female staff and players" within the organisation.

When it comes to efforts to make the game more inclusive, it is often said that you have to see it to believe it. Now that they are about to step onto the world stage for the first time, this Scotland team have a chance to prove it.

Bryce also hopes her team's appearance at the World Cup will attract complete newcomers to cricket, which she says still relies heavily on players having a family connection to the sport.

That was the case for Bryce and her younger sister Sarah, Scotland's wicketkeeper, who was batting at the other end when Kathryn scored the winning runs against Ireland. But while their father played the game and their mother grew up supporting Lancashire while living in England's Lake District, there were other role models who had a huge influence.

The girls started playing at school and in their grandmother's garden, trying to emulate their namesakes, retired England bowler Katherine Sciver-Brunt and wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor, using a trellis of snow pea vines as their stumps.

Right there in the garden, they could see it, now they get to be it.

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