Cricket World Cup: Mommsen targets historic win

CAPTAIN Preston Mommsen believes Scotland have caught England at just the right time ahead of their World Cup clash in Christchurch.

Preston Mommsen believes Scotland are taking on England at just the right time. Picture: Getty
Preston Mommsen believes Scotland are taking on England at just the right time. Picture: Getty
Preston Mommsen believes Scotland are taking on England at just the right time. Picture: Getty

England are low on confidence after suffering two thumping defeats to start their campaign against Australia and New Zealand.

Defeat to the Black Caps in Wellington on Friday was one of England’s worst-ever at a World Cup and Mommsen believes Scotland are ready to pounce on any lingering frailty.

“It is a good time to be playing them,” he said.

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“I don’t think I could really put into words what a win would do for this team, for Scottish cricket on the whole, and what it would do for cricket back home right now.”

Scotland have never won a World Cup match in two previous visits to the tournament, but have shown recently they are capable of pulling off a giant-killing.

In their two warm-up games they thrashed Ireland before falling just three runs short of beating West Indies in Sydney.

They were then brought back down to earth in their tournament opener, when New Zealand reduced them to 12 for four, but battled back gamely to push the Black Caps far closer than England managed.

“As a nation we have yet to beat a full-member team and that is something that is a major goal for the current team and something we’re working very hard towards,” Mommsen said.

“We know that we’re not far away from that. I think our form in the last 12 months has proved that, but we’ve got to actually get over the line and do that.

“Tomorrow provides another opportunity, but at the end of the day, it’s still another game of cricket, whether it’s against an associate team or a full-member team.

“At the end of the day, we’re not meant to beat full members, but we know we have the potential to do it, and hopefully we can do it tomorrow.”

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Scotland’s return to the World Cup has come after their governing body awarded central contracts, while players such as Matt Machan, Kyle Coetzer and Calum MacLeod have forged careers in county cricket south of the border.

While they still have players in their squad who must also make a living in office blocks, Paisley-born spinner Majid Haq is an accountant, coach Grant Bradburn believes the experiences gained in the Antipodes over the next month can help them to push past some full-member nations and achieve a top-10 ranking.

“We don’t have a huge amount of depth of quality players in Scotland yet, but already we’re starting to build some nice internal competition in this side,” he said.

“That has been very important for us to not only give the young ones the opportunity to experience international cricket, and what it’s about, but also keeps the old ones moving forward. It’s a win-win situation.

“Of course I think we’re already seeing the benefit of us playing a couple of top-tier nations in the last two weeks.

“I believe we are moving forward all of the time, which is a result of knowing where the bar is of top-10 international cricket, and that’s where we want to be.”

The England clash offers a welcomed return to Hagley Oval where Scotland confirmed their place at the World Cup with a three-wicket win over Kenya a year ago.

Mommsen’s side embarked on a seven-game winning run to win that tournament and will likely have a better grasp on conditions than England, who have never played at the venue.

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“I think it’s definitely an advantage for us,” Mommsen said.

“Generally when we’ve played here, it’s played very well. It’s a good one-day wicket. If you get in, it has potential to get big scores, and that’s something we’ll be looking for tomorrow is a big partnership up front to lay a steady platform for our innings.”

Settling nerves early is a factor the skipper admits could be crucial after admitting that there was added motivation to beat England.

“There’s always a huge rivalry between Scotland and England in any sporting event,” said Mommsen, who was born in South Africa but raised in Scotland where he graduated from Gordonstoun School in Elgin, which counts Prince Charles amongst its alumni.

“I’ve been to Murrayfield for a Scotland-England clash, and the passion that’s on display there is pretty awesome and hopefully that’ll come out again tomorrow.

“We’re up for this game. We’ve got a very passionate 15 players there who will fight tooth and nail for every run and try and save every run in the field.

“We’ll be fighting for it tomorrow. There’s no doubt about that. We want to win this game and hopefully we can put in a huge performance.”