Scotland’s Kiwi head coach Grant Bradburn says his team have nothing to fear in their opening game at the Cricket World Cup.
The Scots take on New Zealand in Dunedin tonight (10pm start, GMT) with the Black Caps having already impressed in their first outing as hosts, despatching Sri Lanka with relative ease in a 98-run victory in Christchurch.
Having overseen an encouraging series of warm-up matches, including a narrow three-run defeat at the hands of the West Indies, Bradburn is keen to get stuck into the tournament proper against his home country.
Speaking after his team’s first training session since arriving in New Zealand from their Australian forward base, Bradburn said: “We’re chomping at the bit, absolutely. We’ve had a great run in and we can’t complain at all.
“Our build-up has been fantastic and we’ve been afforded some great opportunities to both train and extend our skills and we’ve had some quality game time over this last six-month period.
“Sydney was fantastic for us and it was so important for us to get some grass under our feet after the winter. It was really important to get on to turf. It did take three or four days for the guys to get over that soreness and just to get used to the conditions but those two weeks in Sydney were gold.
“We’ve arrived here and we’re fizzing and we’re ready to go.
“We know the host nation are playing some amazing cricket but this is a tournament like any other and on Tuesday we start at level pegging.
“We’re well aware of our opposition and we do our homework and our analyst is very particular about going through that. We’ll sit down and go through that again before the game.
“Yes, we’re aware of who we’re playing and what they do but we’re working hard to keep our feet on the ground and do our best on the park and we know if we do that then we can compete with any side.”
Dunedin, the venue for the Scots’ first match, is known as the Edinburgh of the south with the streets famously laid out and named in homage to the capital. The visitors were afforded an official welcome befitting the city’s Scottish heritage.
Pipers and Highland Dancers with a smattering of ex-pats provided some reassurance that there will be at least some vocal support amongst the sell-out crowd at the picturesque University Oval.
It would take a remarkable reversal of form and fortune for Scotland to upset a team that, at this stage, has no great cause to fear any side in the competition.
New Zealand have been tipped as dark-horse favourites to win the tournament, but Scotland have rather more modest ambitions – a first ever World Cup win would install this current crop as history makers.
Bradburn says he and captain Preston Mommsen already have a good idea of who they’ll be announcing in their XI to take on New Zealand, with games further down the line also in mind. Only the cooler than expected conditions might alter the game-plan.
Bradburn said: “We’ve got some internal competition in the side which has been intentionally built and it’s been our intention to really drive that competition.
“We’ve got some guys, even the experienced guys, fighting for their seat on the bus, and that’s a sign of a quality side.
“Yes, we know we don’t have huge depth but the guys that we’ve got here are all absolutely fizzing to get a seat in the XI and that’s the way it should be.
“Preston and I have a firm idea of what we think our ideal line-up will be against New Zealand and England and probably even Afghanistan. We’ve done a lot of planning for this so you know there will be no surprise selections. We will put our very best side on the park.”
• For the third successive year Cricket Scotland has been awarded the Best Overall Cricket Development Programme Award in the Pepsi ICC Development Awards for the Europe region.
Keith Oliver, chairman of Cricket Scotland, said: “This award recognises the hard work of the development team as well as sports groups, cricket clubs, schools and local authorities that all play an important role in ensuring a strong cricketing legacy. The recognition from ICC Europe ensures Cricket Scotland can support the development of the next generation of cricketers who will in turn go on to replicate their sporting idols currently representing Scotland in the World Cup.”