JOHN Blain last night backed Majid Haq to claim his Scotland wicket record, and admitted that he would be delighted to surrender the honour.
Haq needs just one dismissal to overtake Blain’s ODI tally of 41 scalps, and if he achieved the landmark against a top Test outfit in Pakistan, it would be the icing on a very tasty cake.
The sides go into battle at The Grange in Edinburgh today, with the hosts striving for their first success against a major nation in an official ODI.
While Clydesdale’s Haq insists that the results will matter much more than individual glory, Blain reckons the spinner would be a worthy successor to his record. “If anyone is going to be the new top all-time wicket taker I would love it to be him,” Blain said.
“It would mean a lot to me if I am overtaken by someone I have actually played alongside.
“Maj is a guy I have the utmost respect for, both on and off the field. I think he is a very talented cricketer.”
Blain was backed up by former Scotland cricketer Andy Goram, the former Rangers and Scotland footballer, who joked: “You never saw me bowling Maj…
“Seriously, all the best to one of the best!”
For his part, Haq added: “It would be a great honour to overtake Blainy, one of Scotland’s best bowlers of all time – and the quickest Scotland has ever produced.”
He added: “My family has a Pakistani background and, although this will just be another big game for me and the rest of the squad, it would obviously be extra special for me to get among the wickets.
“Facing any of the big cricketing countries is a huge honour and we are confident we can pull off a shock by beating them.
“This is their first match since arriving in the UK and maybe we can catch them a bit cold.”
Blain was involved in several tussles with the Pakistanis, including an epic World Cup tie in 1999 at Chester-le-Street.
The Scots were on course to pull off a stunning triumph when they captured five early wickets but streetwise Pakistan dug deep to snuff out their gallant challenge.
Blain said: “They are always strong because of the pure innate talent they possess.
“They are sometimes criticised for their lack of discipline but what they may lack there they make up in self-belief and trust in what they do.”
Five of the six players cleared to represent Scotland through a change in the rules on eligibility in January are in the squad.
All-rounder Rob Taylor is included after performing well for Leicestershire, while there is a place for Northamptonshire wicketkeeper David Murphy. Matt Machan, Neil Carter and Iain Wardlaw will also be looking to make an impact.
All eyes will be on Carter in particular, with the Scots fans hoping he can reproduce one of the devastating and match- winning knocks he used to deliver when he starred for Warwickshire.
New skipper Kyle Coetzer said: “It will be an immense honour and a fantastic occasion which will fill me with pride leading out my country against a cricketing powerhouse like Pakistan.
“More importantly though, we are seeing this as a great opportunity to showcase our skills and test ourselves against one of the best teams in the world.”
Pakistan will be led by Misbah-ul-Haq, the former Penicuik player.
The second one-dayer takes place on Sunday.
Scotland: (from) Kyle Coetzer (capt), Preston Mommsen, Richie Berrington, Neil Carter, Freddie Coleman, Josh Davey, Gordon Drummond, Majid Haq, Moneeb Iqbal, Matt Machan, David Murphy, Rob Taylor, Iain Wardlaw.
Pakistan: (from) Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Nasir Jamshed, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Kamran Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Ali, Ehsan Adil Wahab Riaz.