KYLE Coetzer may have had mixed feelings as he watched his Scotland team-mates clinch their place in glamorous Group A at next year’s World Cup.
However, any feeling of frustration at missing out, through injury, on the closing stages of the qualifying campaign in New Zealand was kept well concealed as he joined the celebrations in the wake of victory over UAE in the final of the World Cup Qualifying Trophy.
With Northants batsman Coetzer still nursing a wrist injury which saw him miss the latter stages of the tournament, it was his replacement as skipper, Preston Mommsen, who led the way with a brilliant 139 not out in a 41-run win at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln.
The victory secured a return to New Zealand a year from now when, all being well, Coetzer will be back at the helm to lead the Scots in a mouth-watering series of fixtures.
They open up against co-hosts New Zealand in Dunedin on 17 February before squaring up to England at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch, in what will be a first-ever World Cup meeting with the Auld Enemy.
Matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh follow in Dunedin and Nelson before the Scots travel to Tasmania to complete the group phase against Sri Lanka and the other co-hosts, Australia, at the Bellerive Oval, Hobart, on 14 March.
Coetzer was happy to delight in the efforts of his team-mates and particularly Mommsen, who had been forced to miss last November’s World T20 qualifiers with a pelvic injury.
“I don’t think we could have asked for any more from all the guys and I don’t really think things could have gone any better,” said Coetzer, the former Stoneywood-Dyce player.
“I am especially pleased for Preston because it was tough for him not being at the T20s and, of course, you can see from his performances here that you can’t replace guys like that.
“He has matured and shown his class with the way he can hit boundaries and then find gaps to get off strike.”
Mommsen was named Player of the Tournament after scoring 520 runs at an average of almost 87, with two centuries, but the top score in the tournament belonged to Calum MacLeod, another of Scotland’s successes.
MacLeod’s 175 against Canada was the 19th highest score in all ODIs and enough to clinch a trial with Durham in April for the man who was released by Warwickshire three years ago.
“Calum has worked so hard,” said Coetzer. “He went through a really tough time in his career but he has turned himself into an exceptional batsman. At times he can be impossible to bowl at with the range of strokes he has.”
While this is a time for some hearty mutual back-slapping, there is also an acknowledgement that a lot of hard work lies ahead if Scotland are to make an impression and perhaps claim a scalp or two at the World Cup.
Paul Collingwood, the interim joint coach whom the Scots will invite to stay on in a consultancy role, said: “These guys definitely have the skills. They’ve certainly got it with the batting, and the fielding is exceptional, but there are some areas we’ve got to work on with the bowling.”
Meanwhile, Scotland’s qualification should rescue a summer fixture schedule which would have been threadbare in the extreme. Aside from a one-off ODI with England in May, there was little prospect of meaningful action for the senior side. Now, though, it is likely that several Test-playing nations or their A teams will provide opposition during the season.
2015 WORLD CUP
Scotland’s Group A fixtures
New Zealand v Scotland
17 Feb at University Oval, Dunedin
Scotland v England
23 Feb at Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Scotland v Afghanistan
26 Feb at University Oval, Dunedin
Scotland v Bangladesh
5 March at Saxton Oval, Nelson
Scotland v Sri Lanka
11 March at Bellerive Oval, Hobart
Australia v Scotland
14 March at Bellerive Oval, Hobart
Group B teams
India, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, United Arab Emirates.