England set for their highland fling
Match factsMonday August 18, 2008
Start time 10.45 (9.45GMT)
Big PictureThis is the first time the Auld Enemy have met in a one-day international and it's the biggest match staged north of Hadrian's Wall. It's an occasion which Scotland have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It shouldn't be a contest with the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff going head-to-head with a collection of county and club professionals. However, these matches can do funny things to the so-called 'big boys' as they attempt to avoid an embarrassing banana skin. In 2006 England made hard work of beating Ireland and if the dank, damp weather of recent weeks hangs around the conditions will be ideal for Scotland's motley crew of honest seamers. For England, though, this should be useful preparation for the one-day series against South Africa and allow the players to switch from first-class cricket into limited-overs mode. If Scotland can pull off an upset, expect the mother of all parties in Edinburgh. It's just a shame there isn't television coverage of the match.
Form guideEngland LLLNRW
Watch out for...
Matt Prior After being dumped following his spate of dropped catches in Sri Lanka, Prior has earned another chance after a prolific season for Sussex. Firstly his opportunity is in the one-day game, but the signs are pointing towards a Test recall if all goes to plan over the next three weeks. He will probably open, although given the revolving door that is the top order for England in one-day cricket nothing is certain. However, Prior's ability to hit through and over the infield with proper, orthodox batting make him the perfect man to give England the rapid starts they have been craving.
Gavin Hamilton It's often easy to forget, but Hamilton has an England Test cap to his name, although his appearance at Johannesburg in 1999 amounted to a pair and no wickets. His returns for Scotland during the 1999 World Cup earned him that chance and since his first-class career, taking in Yorkshire and Durham, ended he has became a valuable source of experience. He doesn't bowl anymore, but his solid batting in the top order often provides the ballast for Scotland and he'll be key against the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
John Blain Another with county experience having played for Yorkshire and Northamptonshire, England will underestimate Blain at their peril. He has been in good form recently, taking consistent hauls in one-day, Twenty20 and first-class cricket. He can set the tone with the new ball and a couple of early wickets will boost confidence through the Scotland team.
Scotland are boosted by the availability of their county batsmen - Kyle Coetzer of Durham and Navdeep Poonia of Warwickshire - who will add strength to the top order when coupled with the experience of Gavin Hamilton and captain Ryan Watson. They have a good hand of seam bowlers, with the final decision likely to come down to between Richie Berrington, Gordon Drummond and the left-arm spin of Ross Lyons. One of Scotland's most experienced players, Fraser Watts, hasn't been able to find a place in the squad.
Scotland (from) Ryan Watson (capt), Gavin Hamilton, Kyle Coetzer, Navdeep Poonia, Colin Smith, Neil McCallum, Richie Berrington, Craig Wright, Calum MacLeod, John Blain, Dewald Nel, Gordon Drummond, Ross Lyons
England have injuries among their pace attack with Ryan Sidebottom missing and Chris Tremlett doubtful with Tim Bresnan being called up as cover. The most interesting aspect will be the make-up of the opening pair. Matt Prior is back and the most likely combination would be him with Ian Bell, who took that position against New Zealand. The other options include Luke Wright and Owais Shah, the latter opening in one match for the Lions against the South Africans. With Paul Collingwood serving his four-match suspension there is a middle-order place available which could hand Samit Patel a debut.
England (possible) 1 Ian Bell, 2 Matt Prior (wk), 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Owais Shah, 6 Andrew Flintoff, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Luke Wright, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson
Umpires: Peter Baldwin (Germany) and Simon Taufel (Australia)
Pitch and conditionsPredictably, given the weather in recent weeks, the forecast is poor for Monday with rain forecast throughout the day. With all the rain the pitch is likely to favour the seamers and could play fairly slowly.
Stats and Trivia
"Obviously they are in a different league to ourselves, but I don't think there is anything to fear. The country is only 150 miles from us and that means it's a big match for us all, and it's something that should be embraced and enjoyed."
John Blain tells The Scotsman he isn't going to take a backward step against England