CRAIG Wright, Scotland’s stand-in coach, has ordered his players to produce the stand-out performance of their careers to beat England.
Wright, who masterminded the country’s qualification for next year’s 50-over World Cup, takes charge for the last time as the Scots entertain their southern rivals at Mannofield in Aberdeen today.
He will then hand over the reins to the newly appointed Grant Bradburn before becoming the New Zealander’s assistant.
Bradburn will be in attendance at today’s sell-out occasion and Wright wants his men to respond by carving out what would be the most famous result in Scottish cricketing history.
The former national captain knows a thing or two about beating English opposition having claimed several notable county scalps during his tenure at the helm of the Saltires.
However, victory over a Test-playing national in an official one-day international is an achievement which has so far eluded Scotland and would eclipse anything even Wright achieved during his illustrious playing career.
The 40-year-old knows his side will be written off in some quarters as no-hopers against an English outfit buoyed by the second coming of Peter Moores, their new coach who has arrived to lift the gloom that descended on Alastair Cook’s side in the wake of a chastening winter which saw them ritually hammered by Australia and humiliated by Holland.
Yet, Wright is an instinctively upbeat individual, realistic enough to understand the balance of probability but sufficiently positive to believe in the possibility of an upset.
“We have got to look on this game as a massive opportunity,” said Wright. “These type of matches don’t come around often enough and it is vital that we take our chance to play positive cricket. I can’t say we will beat England but I do believe we have players who are capable of hurting teams at any level. There are quite a few things in our favour and one of them is the momentum we take into the game following our success in the World Cup qualifier.
“We imposed ourselves on the opposition throughout that tournament and we have to take that mentality into the England game.
“They are obviously looking on this game as a new beginning but it could well be on their minds that the last time they played as a team they lost to Holland [in the World Twenty20].
“There is always more pressure on the favourites in games like this and I think it’s high time we knocked one of the big boys over.”
Wright is not alone in believing that all the ingredients are in place for a shock.
John Edrich, a former giant of English cricket has claimed it would not be earth-shattering today if Scotland beat his old team in his own back yard.
Deeside-based Edrich – one of the world’s top opening batsmen in the 1960s and 70s – believes a home win could be on the cards when the sides clash.
The former Surrey hero declared: “First and foremost, it is fantastic for the sport in this country that England are coming here and it just shows how the profile of cricket has risen in recent times. And the fact is that in the limited overs game, the gulf between the Test-playing nations and the others is narrowing all the time.
“England are a case in point – just a couple of months ago, they were beaten by Holland in the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.
“It wasn’t the first time they have lost to the Dutch, and they have also lost to Ireland in the main World Cup. Statistics like these can only inspire the Scots at Mannofield and though it would still be regarded as a bit of a surprise if they came out on top, it wouldn’t be the massive upset it might once have been.”