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June 4, 2009
It was only a few weeks ago that Scotland scraped through by the skin of their teeth to retain their ODI status in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa. They had a remarkably poor tournament, failing to qualify for the 2011 event, and only thanks to Gavin Hamilton's consistency did they manage to hold onto the lucrative ODI status. They enter this much higher-profile tournament in fairly shambolic fashion, after losing their main sponsor, Lloyds TSB, which preceded Ryan Watson's resignation as captain.
It got worse, too. On the eve of the ICC World Twenty20 warm-ups, the newly installed skipper, Gavin Hamilton, had a verbal bust-up with John Blain, one of his most experienced bowlers, who then walked out on the side. This was hardly ideal preparation yet, as ever, Scotland somehow dug deep against England to produce the sort of gritty performance they were becoming renowned for.
Paul Collingwood for one was impressed with Scotland's performance, in which Colin Smith top-scored with 45, while Majid Haq conceded just 19 with his very tidy offspin. These were promising signs of a side able to rise to the occasion in spite of their off-field travails, and in spite of their minnow status, Scotland will never appear timid or overawed by the occasion. Scottish fans shouldn't get too excited, nor their opponents too concerned. They are gritty fighters, and the shortest of formats does increase the chances of an unlikely upset against a snoozing Full Member, but realistically they are shorn of explosive hitters and will struggle against better Twenty20 teams than England. This, as ever, is all about exposure to a higher level and intensity of international cricket.
A mostly fit and athletic side. The oft maligned Majid Haq used to resemble Ramesh Powar in bulk but has cut down his weight, though Ryan Watson, the former captain, is still a little on the hefty side. Gavin Hamilton, Kyle Coetzer (who has benefited hugely by playing for Durham) and Neal McCallum all offer ballast and bolshy hitting, while Haq's offspin and a solid seam-attack should keep things relatively tight.
A lack of experience is their main, glaring problem. They have only played six Twenty20s, and only two of those were against Full Member nations (losing one; the other was washed out). The majority of the side are amateurs, doing fairly regular 9-5 jobs, playing club cricket against mediocre opposition when they can. The gap in class between that, and playing internationals, is vast.
Hamilton has the ability to produce an extraordinary knock if bowlers stray onto his legs, and McCallum can hit the ball miles, but much depends on whether their opponents have a really, really bad day. This is not very likely.
Hamilton is their best batsmen by a furlong, and although Craig Wright is nearing the end of his career, his experience with bat and ball offers stability.
Just six Twenty20 internationals for Scotland. They were poor in the recent ICC World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa, and lost seven out of eight matches in this year's Friends Provident Trophy.
Gavin Hamilton (capt), Richie Berrington, Kyle Coetzer, Gordon Drummond, Majid Haq, Neil McCallum, Calum Macleod, Dewald Nel, Navdeep Poonia, Glenn Rogers, Colin Smith (wk), Jan Stander, Ryan Watson, Fraser Watts, Craig Wright, John Blain
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