THE CHANGING of Scotland’s cricketing guard will take place tonight in a Glasgow hotel when new head coach Grant Bradburn formally takes charge of the national team ahead of their three-match series with the Netherlands, which begins tomorrow at Titwood.
Having taken a brief peek at his inheritance at last month’s ODI with England, the Kiwi should address his charges with little apprehension. The expectation, however, is that he will switch the emphasis from technical self-improvement to the dogged pursuit of victory.
During the flying visit made following his appointment, he hinted that an immediate target was to re-attain the parity of esteem with Ireland that has been lost over the past six years. Results since snaring a berth in next winter’s World Cup via last January’s qualifiers have suggested the side has turned a corner but the full potential, vice-captain Preston Mommsen claims, is far from realised.
“The guys have progressed in terms of skill level but we hadn’t put in the match-winning performances we needed to win games of cricket,” the all-rounder, pictured, declared. “Grant recognises the importance of us performing individually as well as a team. That’s something he wants to instil, guys taking five-fors, guys scoring hundreds.
“When we are in those pressure situations, we have guys who can win games by themselves and that’s one of the reasons why Ireland have become so successful. They have a strong group but they’ve all had times when someone has stepped up to make the difference.”
It helps that captain Kyle Coetzer is on board for the entire Dutch series, affording the Northants batsman and his frequent deputy valuable time to forge a bond with the new arrival. With Sussex’s Matt Machan also available, Bradburn will have an almost full-strength squad, with Glamorgan’s teenage prospect Ruaidhri Smith, who has picked up a late injury, the lone absentee.
With the visitors still nursing the impact of losing their ODI status following their own failure to reach the World Cup, there will be points to prove from both sides.
Mommsen says Scotland must seize every chance to impose themselves on their fellow second-tier nations during a critical 12 month-spell. “We do have respect for the Netherlands as a team. They’re still strong. You can’t write them off because of one bad tournament and it’s unfair they’ve lost their status. But we’re ahead of them and we want to prove that on the park.”