Scotland cricket captain Gordon Drummond has urged his side to get qualification for the 2015 World Cup back on track when they entertain Canada in one day internationals at the Grange ground, Raeburn Place, on Monday and Wednesday.
Two teams will automatically qualify from the round-robin World Cricket League Championship group for the global event being played in Australia and New Zealand, with the Scots currently lying third behind leaders Ireland and United Arab Emirates.
But, as Drummond points out, victories could push Scotland back into the top two and prevent the possibility of having to go into an extended repechage in 2014 to claim one of the other two places available.
Drummond said: “These are massive matches next week against very attacking opposition. Canada qualified for the last World Cup and if we are being critical of ourselves we have not qualified often enough for the final stages of the main tournaments.
“If our discipline isn’t right they can get away from you very quickly so we have to really pay attention to our basics.”
In fact, Canada have qualified for the last three World Cups and their 2003 campaign is remembered for batsman John Davison hitting the fastest century in the competition’s history at the time, against West Indies – off 67 balls.
Although Davison retired from internationals last year, he is a measure of the talented players which Canada have available to them.
Featuring next week will be Damodar Dasrath, a former captain of Guyana, Jimmy Hansra who had 70s against both Kenya and New Zealand in the last World Cup, and Pakistan-born Rizwan Cheema, who hit a 61 ball innings of 89 against West Indies in a one-day international.
Bolstering the Scotland side will be a string of players currently gaining high level experience in England.
These include Kyle Coetzer who hit 120 for Northants against Leicestershire in May, while Calum MacLeod, Ally Evans, Josh Davey and Preston Mommsen who have connections with Northants, Derby, Middlesex and Leicestershire respectively. Drummond said: “All the lads coming back from playing in England are tremendous at lifting our changing room and have probably been playing more cricket than the home-based players due to recent weather.
“Most importantly, each is committed to making big contributions for Scotland – they really want to be with us next week.”
Canada may also catch Scotland on an unprecedented high after receiving news of extra funding of £963,000 from the international authorities coupled with a relaxation of eligibility laws allowing players to qualify through parentage.
Welcoming the moves, Drummond commented: “Part of the extra funding can create further tours allowing our players to develop in different environments and the qualification changes put us on more of an even keel with other countries.
“We don’t know yet who might be out there eligible to play for Scotland, but I do know that increased competition for places is welcome. Attitude has to be such that playing for Scotland is an affair of the heart.”
Scotland: Gordon Drummond (captain), Ryan Flannigan, Matthew Parker, Alisdair Evans, Richie Berrington, Majid Haq, Craig Wallace, Gordon Goudie, Preston Mommsen, Calum MacLeod, Jan Stander, Kyle Coetzer, Fraser Watts, Josh Davey.
Canada: Jimmy Hansra, Rizwan Cheema, Hiral Patel, Ruvindu Gunas ekera, Nitish Kumar, Junaid Siddiqui, Henry Osinde, Usman Limbada, Zeeshan Siddiqui, Durand Sorraine, Jeremy Gordon, Parth Desai, Parvin Soroye, Damodar Daesrath.