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CW World Cup Countdown. Day 5 - Scotland
28 Feb 2007
By: Sean Bennett


As part of a series of articles leading up to the World Cup, Cricket Web presents a daily review on the background, players and prospects a specific competing team, starting with the minnows and building up to the favourites. Today we feature Scotland.

Introduction

Having long lived in the shadow of the English cricket team, Scotland is participating in only its second World Cup. Indeed, this is only the third World Cup the Scots have been eligible to qualify for, having only resigned from the UK Cricket Council in 1992 and being elected associate membership of the ICC in 1994, too late to qualify for the 1996 tournament.

In that time, Scottish cricket appears to have come on leaps and bounds. However, the side still lag behind the Test playing nations in standard, despite a spirited showing against Pakistan in 2006.

Scotland is a strong and experienced squad as minnows go, with several of their players having played first-class county championship cricket, and the rest having had the chance to represent their country in England's domestic
List-A competitions.

They even have two ex-England players in Dougie Brown and Gavin Hamilton. However, and are drawn in a group with Australia, South Africa and The Netherlands. Progression to the Super Eights round looks nigh on
impossible.

Leadup to the Tournament

Scotland's first ODI since the 1999 World Cup came on 27th June 2006, when Pakistan came to Edinburgh. The Scots showed they had the guts to face the Test nations, with two fine innings from Ryan Watson and Neil McCallum and three cheap wickets for Paul Hoffmann ensuring the hosts came out of the
game with respect, though ultimately outclassed.

The following month, Scotland hosted Ireland, Italy, Denmark and The Netherlands in the European Cricket Championship. In the official ODIs, the Scots lost to Ireland but beat Netherlands, adding wins against Denmark and Italy to finish second to Ireland in the tournament.

A short tour of Bangladesh before Christmas took place, with Scotland being outclassed on the unfamiliar subcontinental wickets by Test opposition and soundly beaten in both games of the two ODI series. As the buildup to the World Cup intensified after Christmas, the number of games increased. A tri-series in Kenya ended with Scotland losing to the hosts in two games, but beating Canada in two also.

Staying in Kenya, the Scots then reached the ICC World Cricket League final, beating World Cup opponents Netherlands on the way to gain a possible psycholigical edge. All did not end well, though, losing the final to Kenya. However, Scotland are ranked at the top of the ICC associate nations.

Players to Watch

Zimbabwean born and capped by South African schools, Ryan Watson may well be Scotland's only genuine match winner. Holder of the third fastest one-day century in history, Watson's batting at first drop will be key to Scotland's
hopes of causing an upset. The jockbok has already proved his credentials with 80 against Pakistan on ODI debut, and his aggressive batting can hopefully inspire the rest of the side.

Scotland's top wicket taker in the recent ICC World Cricket League was captain Craig Wright. Wright will be expected to lead the attack in the West Indies as well as the team. The medium pacer has more wickets for Scotland than anyone else, and has been a consistent performer for his nation for almost a decade now.

Alot of responsibility will also fall on the shoulders of Dougie Brown and Gavin Hamilton. With experience of playing for England and many years in the County Championship under their belts, allrounder Brown (nine ODIs for England) and batsman Hamilton (one Test) will be looked to whenever inspiration is needed, and over the years both have proved they can provide it. A repeat of Hamilton's 1999 World Cup batting, where he averaged of 54.25, wouldn't go amiss.

Strengths

Scotland's strength lies in its middle order, with Watson and Hamilton holding the side together, supported in being the most likely source of centuries by McCallum. Brown, wicketkeeper Colin Smith and captain Wright can also wield the bat and regularly chip in.

The side's experience in English domestic cricket will also help. The standard of opposition is greater than most associate members provide, giving as good an opportunity as is possible outside of a Test playing nation to hone the players' skills, give experience of intense cricket and allow the team to gel.

Weaknesses

Having to play Australia and South Africa is supremely difficult. Scotland will face pace problems against both these teams. The Scottish bowling attack lacks the necessary pace to cause the batsmen from the top two ODI teams in the world any discomfort. The top order is largely untried against bowlers as quick and penetrative as Ntini and potentially Tait. Whether the Scots can stand up to them remains to be seen.

Previous World Cups

1999: Group Stage

Scotland has lost all five of its previous World Cup games

Predicted Finish 2007

In a group with Australia and South Africa, it is almost impossible to see anything but an early exit. However, a win against The Netherlands is possible, and the side will be aiming for a third place in their group.

Eliminated in the Group Stage

Scotland World Cup Squad
Craig Wright, Ryan Watson, John Blain, Dougie Brown, Gavin Hamilton, Majid Haq, Paul Hoffmann, Douglas Lockhart, Ross Lyons, Neil McCallum, Dewald Nel, Navdeep Poonia, Glenn Rogers, Colin Smith, Fraser Watts

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