New faces brighten Scotland squad
Neil Carter, the former Warwickshire seamer, is one of a number of new faces included in the Scotland squad for their tour of the UAE in March, where they will face Afghanistan in all forms of the game.
Carter, who retired from county cricket at the end of 2012 after over a decade with Warwickshire, is hoping to extend his career with Scotland and will add experience to a young crop of bowlers chiefly aiming to earn a place at the 2015 World Cup.
David Murphy, the Northamptonshire wicketkeeper, Sussex batsman Matt Machan, and Rob Taylor, the Leicestershire allrounder, have also been selected after impressing on Scotland's uncapped tour of South Africa in October. Another county cricketer, Yorkshire seamer Iain Wardlaw, has been included in the party for the eight-match tour.
Scotland will play three warm-up matches before two T20 internationals on March 3 and 4. They precede the main part of the tour with two crucial World Cricket League matches. Scotland will be hoping to consolidate their position in the top two of the Championship table - the qualifying positions for the World Cup. With six matches to play, Scotland are two points behind Ireland and a point ahead of both Netherlands and UAE. Afghanistan are a further three points back.
The final leg of the tour sees Scotland and Afghanistan vying for a place in the final of the Intercontinental Cup. Scotland are currently second in the table, again behind Ireland, with Afghanistan third.
"This is a massive few weeks for the team in terms of reaching the 2015 World Cup and another Intercontinental Cup final," Scotland captain Gordon Drummond said. "The new look squad has a good balance to it and gives us a great deal of options. The players have been training intensively since the start of the year and we are looking forward to getting back onto the pitch and challenging the talented Afghanistan team. It is important for us that we get off to a good start ahead of what is a huge year of cricket for Scotland."
Scotland have benefitted from a relaxation of the qualification rules. Previously, players had to be born in or spend 100 days a year in the country to represent them. Now, players can qualify through a parent.
Iain Kennedy, Scotland chairman of selectors, said this selection was the most "challenging and exciting" of recent times. "It's very rare that you would get such an influx of talented individuals to pick from," he said. "Hopefully our new players will gel quickly with our current squad and we get the positive results we are all hoping for against Afghanistan".
Scotland squad to play Afghanistan
Richie Berrington, Neil Carter, Kyle Coetzer, Josh Davey, Gordon Drummond (captain), Gordon Goudie, Majid Haq, Moneeb Iqbal, Matt Machan, Calum MacLeod, David Murphy, Preston Mommsen, Safyaan Sharif, Rob Taylor, Iain Wardlaw
February 23, UAE Blues, Sharjah, 50-over warm up
February 26, UAE Blues, Abu Dhabi, 50-over warm up
February 28, UAE Blues, Dubai, 50-over warm up
March 3, Afghanistan, T20, Sharjah
March 4, Afghanistan, T20, Sharjah
March 6, Afghanistan, World Cricket League, Sharjah
March 8, Afghanistan, World Cricket League, Sharjah
March 12-15, Afghanistan, Intercontinental Cup, Abu Dhabi