After creating history with Sunday’s magical six-run one-day international win over England, Scotland’s cricketers have been set the target of reaching the top ten in the world Twenty20 rankings, writes Duncan Smith.
A number of games in the shortest format, starting with the double-header against Pakistan at The Grange today and tomorrow which leads into a tri-series against the Dutch and Irish in the Netherlands from the weekend, gives them the opportunity to do just that.
Sunday may have been historic and unforgettable but winning games over the next couple of weeks would have a more tangible result in terms of putting the Scots in a strong position to qualify for the T20 World Cup in Australia in two years’ time. After the agony of missing next year’s 50-over tournament, making sure they are there for that 2020 T20 extravaganza is to the fore and coach Grant Bradburn was pleased to see his men back focused on the task in hand just hours after their heroics against England.
“I said to the team you’ve got to enjoy this moment. It’s historic, never been done before,” explained the coach. “I said to them I don’t mind what you do tonight just let’s make sure we turn up for training in the morning. And they’re all here.”
Another world No 1 side come calling over the next two days as Pakistan bring to an end their British Isles tour.
Skipper Kyle Coetzer revealed that the Scots had taken their coach’s advice to enjoy the celebrations on Sunday but have equally taken heed of the need to get their game heads swiftly back on for what will be stern tests over the next couple of days and weeks.
“We all had a chance to enjoy it, but we have to refocus,” he said. “When you win a league or do something big in sport, as we have done, you have to refocus your goals and go again. There have been messages coming to us from around the world, the cricketing environment and beyond and that has been great. A number of the England players also sent us messages of congratulation, which was really nice, and shows they know they were in a tough game.
“But these are massively important games. If we get some wins in these two and the games in Holland, then it will really help our ranking. It is a different format and T20 games can change very quickly, so we have to refocus and be ready for Pakistan on Tuesday first and foremost.”
Sunday’s batting hero, Calum MacLeod, will hope to show what he can do in the shorter form after being snapped up to play for Derbyshire in the T20 Blast competition. Bradburn will also be heading to the same county as part of the backroom staff in partnership deals with Cricket Scotland.
MacLeod’s extraordinary unbeaten 140 was the culmination of a reinvention as a batsman which saved his cricketing career. The former seam bowler considered walking away from the sport when he was reported for a suspect bowling action while with Warwickshire in 2009 but instead focused on batting and converted himself into a hard-hitting matchwinner.
“When Calum came on the scene he was a bowler. And he has just knocked the No 1 team around for 140 not out,” said proud captain Coetzer, who himself helped set up the record 371 for five total with an assured half-century at the top of the order. “Calum recently got 150 against Afghanistan too. Not bad for a guy who was batting pretty much 10 or 11 when he first started. His transition into a world-class batsman is just nothing but sensational.
“His style of cricket and the way he has gone about scoring his runs is clever, smart and innovative. He is looking to continually improve. He’s in a good place.”
l Tickets (£32/£20) remain available for the Pakistan games from the office on Portgower Place.