SCOTLAND skipper Preston Mommsen admits it would be a dream for Scotland to make England their first-ever World Cup scalp.
Scotland’s two previous trips to the World Cup failed to yield a win – in 1999 and 2007 – although there is genuine belief that an almost-entirely home-grown squad will change that during the next six weeks.
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Fellow associate nation Afghanistan and lowly-ranked Bangladesh might appear the teams Scotland could most likely overcome, but Mommsen admits it is the English who he would like to beat the most when they meet in Christchurch in their second Group A game on 23 February.
“We want to win every game we play, but that England fixture, that’s a very big one,” the 27-year-old right-handed batsman said. “I think that atmosphere is going to be a pretty good one. Hopefully we get some home support there going into that game as the underdogs, but that would be a game we’d love to turn them over in.”
A Scotland win would rank as one of the biggest World Cup shocks in history, but Mommsen’s men need only look across the Irish Sea for inspiration that they are capable of a giant-killing.
Ireland have shown at previous World Cups that associate nations can upset the top countries and at the last World Cup they famously beat England on the back of a blazing Kevin O’Brien century.
“We’re not here to fill in the numbers. We take a lot of inspiration from what Ireland have done at previous World Cups,” Mommsen added.
“You know, they’ve found a way to stand up to the big teams, and we’ll be looking to do the same thing.”
Scotland have drafted in some English help to guide them too following the re-appointment of 2010 World Twenty20-winning captain Paul Collingwood to the coaching staff.
Collingwood helped the Scots qualify last winter, when he took on an interim role alongside Craig White, and new head coach Grant Bradburn has offered him the chance to return as his assistant for the tournament proper.
“Paul joined us for the qualifying tournament in New Zealand last year and he had an immediate effect,” said Mommsen, who was born in South Africa but has remained in Scotland since graduating from Gordonstoun, Prince Charles’ old school, in Elgin. “Obviously he brings with him huge experience, a World Cup-winning captain with England, and he’s very easy to relate to.”
Only last summer Collingwood helped Durham lift the Royal London One-Day Cup – county cricket’s 50-over competition – as a player and has fitted straight back in with Scotland after arriving in Sydney on Saturday.
“He’s still playing with Durham, so he’s almost like another squad member – he’s very comfortable in our environment,” Mommsen added.
“The guys are very comfortable with him being in our environment and he’s a great guy to tap into. He’s not in your face, but at the same time very easily approachable and he adds great value to the team.”
With the next World Cup in England set to be reduced by four nations to a ten-team tournament, there will be a focus on the level of performance from the associate sides in Australia and New Zealand. Mommsen argues associate teams are worthy of a place at a showpiece event like the World Cup, but a win over a full-member nation would make the point far more clearly.
Scotland’s clash with Bangladesh, the lowest-ranked full-member nation in their group, in Nelson on 5 March therefore looms as a match with the most riding on it.
“I’ve said previously, we’re looking to try and win every single game we play, but at the same time, Bangladesh, we do see them as a target we can break down,” Mommsen said. “We’re hoping that the conditions will play into our favour and hopefully we have seamers that can exploit the conditions.”
For now Scotland will continue preparations for their opener against co-hosts New Zealand on 17 February with a warm-up match against Ireland scheduled for tomorrow in Sydney.