Cricket Scotland chief Roddy Smith believes a decision to involve former Ashes star Paul Collingwood in World Cup qualification plans has already been vindicated – before the opening delivery is bowled in New Zealand this Sunday evening.
Amidst the fall-out from England’s whitewash at the hands of Australia, there are strong calls, including from former captain Michael Vaughan, for Collingwood, currently at the helm of Scotland along with Craig Wright, to be brought straight in to assist the country he led to the 2010 world twenty:20 title as well as being their most-capped one-day player.
“I am not in the least surprised that Paul is being mentioned as a possible future England coach,” said Smith. “He has come to us to gain experience in coaching and when the time comes to do it full-time there is every reason to believe he will make a success of it. As things stand there is another year of his playing contract to run with Durham and we are reaping the benefit of his experience short-term.
“It is vitally important that Scotland come through the qualifying for next year’s World Cup and success would be a springboard into the new season with momentum developing from there.”
Scotland start against Hong Kong in Queenstown this Sunday (UK time) before meeting Nepal, United Arab Emirates and Canada in the group stage.
“By carrying forward points from four wins into the next round – where we would then meet three teams from the other group – we would be well on our way to being one of the top two who qualify,” adds Smith.
Canada and UAE are old rivals of Scotland, who have reached the World Cup proper previously and Hong Kong occasionally host international cricket events as a bridge for teams travelling between continents.
However, many will be surprised to see Nepal competing for a place on the global stage.
“There is no doubt the Nepalese attract many good players and we will really have to be on our mettle. What helps is playing in New Zealand against Asian teams who have far less opportunity to perform on green wickets as opposed to conditions in the UAE where we normally fulfil this type of fixture.”
When World Cup qualifying ends, the Scotland youth team will begin their bid for the under-19 World Cup in the UAE. “Winning the European competition to qualify was a feat in itself but there is no doubt competition will be very much tougher in the finals with 2012 winners India and Pakistan in our group along with Papua New Guinea,” added Smith.
“Nevertheless, there is an excellent crop of players coming through including Gavin Main and Andrew Uhmeed, who will be playing at Warwickshire this summer.
“Significantly, eleven out of the fifteen members of our senior squad in New Zealand all came through the youth system with the exceptions being Preston Mommsen, who is now Scots-qualified, as well as county professionals Robert Taylor, Iain Wardlaw and Matt Machan. There very much needs to be a balance between tapping into experience and providing opportunities for home-bred youngsters.”
On the domestic front, Scotland’s schedule does not include English counties for the first time since 2003 but Smith is confident the void will be filled and hopefully one-day international status will shortly be granted to add spice to fixtures lined up against the Netherlands, Afghanistan and Ireland as well as England.
• Scotland continued their build up to World Cup qualifying in New Zealand today with a practice match win over a Canterbury Country XI.
In their 50 overs the Scots made 367-6 before bowling the opposition out for 225.
Carlton’s Ally Evans, currently playing in New Zealand, was drafted in as a temporary measure to allow pace bowlers Iain Wardlaw and Safyaan Sharif to rest.