Blain walks out on Scotland on eve of tournament
John Blain, the Scotland seamer, has left the squad four days before the start of the ICC World Twenty20 after a serious falling out with captain Gavin Hamilton.
The official ICC release stated Blain had left for "personal reasons" and although this isn't an injury withdrawal the technical committee have allowed Scotland to draft in Calum MacLeod as a replacement.
"After a practice match on Saturday there was a team meeting and some harsh words were said," Roddy Smith, the Cricket Scotland chief executive, told Reuters. "John then decided he wanted to leave the squad. The replacement definitely wasn't made on medical grounds. The ICC obviously didn't want us to go into the tournament with only 14 players in our squad instead of 15."
Blain's departure is the latest in a string of depressing developments for Scotland over the past few months. They entered the ICC World Cup Qualifiers, held in South Africa in April, as one of the favourites and certainly one of the fittest teams on show, but failed to qualify for the 2011 event. They only retained their one-day international status by the skin of their teeth, too, in a disappointing overall performance which included a 42-run defeat to Afghanistan.
Much of the criticism at the team's effort in South Africa was aimed at the captain, Ryan Watson, whose own batting form has slipped with worrying speed in the last two years. Under pressure, Watson quit and handed the reins over to Gavin Hamilton, but at 34-years-old, his appointment smacks of filling the team with short-term ballast rather than looking to the future. Nevertheless, Hamilton remains the side's most consistent batsman, without whom they almost certainly wouldn't have retained their ODI status.
Furthermore, with no World Cup place in 2011, Scotland lost the ICC's US$150,000 bounty to prepare for the tournament, and five weeks ago Lloyds TSB pulled their sponsorship of the team, ending a seven-year partnership.
Their first warm-up match is on Tuesday when they face England at Trent Bridge and are grouped with South Africa and New Zealand for the first stage.