CALUM MacLeod last night claimed the Saltires will benefit on and off the field from the
inclusion of Neil Carter.
The 38 year-old South African-born all-rounder is a controversial pick in the squad who will fly to the UAE today for a series of crucial matches against Afghanistan.
But opening batsman MacLeod has welcomed the inclusion of his old Edgbaston pal.
MacLeod said: “Neil Carter is an exciting cricketer who has performed at the highest level. He bowls a heavy ball and is an explosive batsman who can hit the ball in strange areas and make life difficult for any bowler.
“On the field I have no doubt he will be a huge hit but I know he will make a positive contribution off it as well.
“When I was a teenager coming through the ranks at Warwickshire, Carts was always one of the more experienced guys who was prepared to take the time to talk to the youngsters.
“He was a great help to me in the tactical and mental aspects of the game and I’m sure the younger guys in the Scotland set-up will learn from him now.”
Carter’s inclusion has drawn criticism in some quarters but MacLeod added: “The inclusion of all the new players throws down a challenge to everyone.
“There is serious competition for places and we all have to raise our standards – that has to be good for Scottish cricket.”
Carter is one of five new faces in the squad as the selectors have taken advantage of the ICC’s new parentage rule.
Yorkshire pace bowler Iain Wardlaw is included for the first time while Matt Machan (Sussex), David Murphy (Northants) and Rob Taylor (Leicestershire) will make their officials debuts after taking part in a tour to South Africa last October. However, Gloucestershire’s Richard Coughtrie – one of five wicket-keeping candidates – misses out to Murphy.
There is also no place for Ryan Flannigan, Ali Evans and Craig Wallace who have been regulars in the side for the last eighteen months.
Coach Pete Steindl said: “There are a lot of disappointed guys but everyone knows we have to keep raising our standards. The players who are not included have to push the guys who are going.
“It was a hard selection process but we have picked what we believe is the best squad possible for this series of games and for the conditions we will face.”
The Saltires, who will play three warm-up games, kick off the serious action with a T20 double header against the Afghans in Sharjah on 3 and 4 March.
However, the most important fixtures of the tour are two 50-over World Cup qualifying games on 6 and 8 March, also at the Sharjah Stadium. Two victories would see the Scots go top of the eight-team table from which two will automatically qualify for the 2015 World Cup.
The sides meet for the final time in a four-day Intercontinental Cup clash, with Steindl’s men bidding to stay on course for a place in the final.