Watson under fire as Scots face exit
The former Scotland bowler, Paul Hoffmann, has slated the performance of the Scots at the World Cup qualifying tournament in South Africa and called on current captain, Ryan Watson, to step down from the role, following a miserable run of form.
Hoffmann's comments followed yet another defeat for the pre-tournament favourites, this time to the minnows of Afghanistan. It was their fourth loss in eight games, and Watson's men are now in serious danger, not only of failing to qualify for the 2011 World Cup, but also of losing their ODI status.
"I'm shocked at how bad we have been throughout the tournament," said Hoffmann, one of the stars of the previous World Cup qualifiers in 2005, when Scotland were unbeaten in seven matches, and beat Ireland in the showpiece final in Dublin.
"The selectors took a gamble by picking inexperienced players like Moneeb Iqbal, Qasim Sheikh, Calum MacLeod and Navdeep Poonia, because these guys had no real big-match experience," he said. "It was a big mistake to discard the likes of Fraser Watts, Gregor Maiden, Dougie Lockhart and Richard Berrington."
As for the captain Watson, Hoffman was unequivocal. "I think Ryan needs to seriously think about resigning as captain, to concentrate on his batting, because I can't believe that a player of his class has averaged just eight [64 runs in 8 innings] against Associate countries.
"For his sake, and Scotland's, it might be better for him to step aside and I would go for Dougie Lockhart as his successor. Dougie led a young, inexperienced team to victory over Bermuda and Canada last year [in the Intercontinental Cup] and he has the smartest cricket brain in his Scotland and knows how to get the best out of his players."
However, Hoffmann doesn't see any benefits in the Scots ditching their coach, Pete Steindl, who has only been in the post for just over a year, following the acrimonious departures, amid whispers of dressing-room coups, of both Andy Moles - who is now in charge of New Zealand - and Peter Drinnen, who is poised to steer the Netherlands to the next World Cup.
"I think Pete should get another season in the job," said Hoffmann. "It would look stupid if Cricket Scotland started searching for another coach, after everything that has happened in the last five years.
"To be honest, I don't think Peter could have done any more, he was very thorough in his preparations, but the players just haven't delivered when it came to the crunch."
Neil Drysdale is a freelance journalist and author