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Mommsen eyes big blow for Scots

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Holding: Will be interesting to see what team England put out (1:22)

Michael Holding and Ajit Agarkar preview the Group A match between England and Scotland in Christchurch (1:22)

It says something for the current state of affairs when the captain of Scotland feels obliged to talk down his side's chances of beating England.

But there is a look in Preston Mommsen's eyes - a steely determination with just a hint of the predator - that tells you, in private, he is not talking down Scotland's chances one bit. If Hollywood - or perhaps Bollywood - ever make a film about this encounter, the trailer may well feature a voiceover stating: "When the hunter becomes the hunted..."

Preston Mommsen knows Scotland have never had a better chance of beating England. And he knows it is not just because England look lost, but because his side has a quality they have never previously possessed.

Amid all the talk of how poor England have been of late, it has been overlooked that Scotland possess an opening batsman in Calum MacLeod who has scored 175 in an ODI, a middle-order batsman, Matt Machan, who scored a polished half-century against New Zealand and, in Iain Wardlaw, an opening bowler who rocked the New Zealand batting line-up that thrashed England to an embarrassing defeat.

This match is not all about England's failings; it is about the quality of Scotland.

Mommsen knows, too, that if his side can pull it off, they will have struck a blow not just for Scotland, but for Associate cricket in all corners of the world. How absurd would the ICC's stance look - that future World Cups should involve just 10 teams to guard against uncompetitive fixtures - if Scotland can inflict such a blow on one of the architects of that decision?

He makes something of a Freudian slip during his pre-match media conference. When he says "At the end of the day, we're not meant to beat Full Members," he probably means that it would be unexpected. But he would be quite right if the comment was taken literally. Because a system where the Associate nations are starved of cricket against Full Member nations, have their opportunities to play in global tournaments snatched away from them and see their funding cut so the vastly rich can have more is a system where they are "not meant to beat Full Members." Everything is stacked against the Associates.

"I think in the whole world cricket, something needs to be looked at," Mommsen said. "We have one fixture every two years against England. You wouldn't say that's enough.

"If you look at the stats regarding Ireland and the number of Full Member teams they've played against since the 2011 World Cup, I think it was something like nine games. After their performance at that tournament, is that really acceptable in terms of growing the game globally? I'm not so sure that is.

"I don't think I could really put into words what a win would do for this team, for Scottish cricket on the whole." Preston Mommsen

"We've worked really hard to get into this position of playing in a World Cup, but at the same time we know we're under pressure in terms of an Associate point of view and putting in performances to make sure that we stand up and be counted here.

"But that's something we accept, something that we embrace, and we're enjoying that challenge of playing against Full Member nations. As I said, we're not meant to beat them, so there's no pressure on us at all, and we'll take that sort of philosophy into the game."

There is pressure, of course. There is pressure to justify the investment Cricket Scotland have made in overseas tours and central contracts and there is pressure to take advantage of a rare opportunity. Most of all, there is pressure to prove a point for Associate cricket and to help Scotland build for the future.

"I don't think I could really put into words what a win would do for this team, for Scottish cricket on the whole, and what it would do for cricket back home right now," Mommsen said. "Obviously as a nation we have yet to beat a Full Member team and that is a major goal for the current team and something we're working very hard towards.

"We know that we're not far away from that. I think our form in the last 12 months has proved that, but we've got to actually get over the line and do that.

"This game provides another opportunity, but at the end of the day, it's still another game of cricket, whether it's against an Associate team or a Full Member team. We're not meant to beat Full Members, but we know we have the potential to do it and hopefully we can do it here. It's obviously a good time to be playing them."

It sure is. But apart from England's poor form and chronic lack of confidence, Scotland have one other significant advantage. Having played on this pitch in the World Cup qualifying tournament, they should be more familiar with the conditions with England. It can also do no harm that their memories of the ground - it was here they clinched qualification for the World Cup - are positive.

"It's definitely an advantage for us," Mommsen agreed. "I'm not sure whether England have actually played on this ground since it's kind of reopened and we've played here a number of times in the last 12 months."

There is a play within a play here, too. This time last year, Paul Collingwood was working on the England coaching staff under Ashley Giles.

But once Paul Downton was appointed as managing director of England cricket, Giles and Collingwood were quickly brushed aside. When Downton was in the Caribbean - supposedly talking to everyone involved in the set-up to canvass their views before making decisions - he spent almost no time at all with Collingwood. As far as Giles and Collingwood are concerned, it is because his mind was already made up: Peter Moores was always going to be given the England job.

So it would make an eloquent point if Scotland - now benefitting from Collingwood's wisdom as Specialist Coach - could defeat England in such a high-profile match. It might even hasten the end of Moores' second spell as England coach.