CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — Having suffered humiliating defeats in its opening two World Cup games, England’s tournament survival will be on the line when it takes on Scotland on Monday, with the Scots relishing an opportunity to inflict further misery on their southern neighbour.
England’s first World Cup meeting against Scotland appeared an easy assignment when the draw was released, but with confidence at rock bottom after thrashings by Australia and New Zealand, this match suddenly looms as a dangerous fixture.
The patriotic fervor will be high when the nations meet on cricket’s world stage for the first time. The words of the anthem ‘Flower of Scotland’ — of defeating the English and sending them “homeward tae think again” — could be an unnerving premonition.
The song will be apposite before Monday’s match, though England has been shorn of the hubris the song derides. The English know they simply must win the game to prevent their World Cup campaign descending into farce.
It could hardly face a more determined opponent. The sporting rivalry between England and Scotland, infused with lingering animosity by battles of the distant past, is bitter and long-established.
Football matches between the nations date back to 1872 and are acknowledged as the oldest international sporting event in the world, in rugby they compete annually for the Calcutta Cup, dating to 1879.
The cricket rivalry is much more recent. Scotland devolved from England to become an associate member of the International Cricket Council in its own right in 1994. It has met England in three one-day internationals since that schism and never won.