Watson a major doubt for triangular series as he recovers from cheekbone surgery

RYAN Watson will miss Scotland's Intercontinental Cup match against UAE in Sharjah next month and is doubtful for the triangular series with Kenya and Canada in Mombasa.

The all-rounder was struck in the face while batting in Bangladesh last week and underwent an operation in Dundee yesterday to repair a fractured cheekbone and eye socket.

"I'm told it's a four-to-six-week healing process after the operation, so at best I am looking at being back for the tri-series in Kenya," said Watson from Ninewells Hospital. Scotland begin that seven-day campaign against Steve Tikolo's Kenyans on 17 January, two days short of Watson's best-case recovery target.

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The reality is that Scotland's vice-captain might not be ready to bat until the World Cricket League in Nairobi begins on 30 January.

In Chittagong, Watson tried to hook a short ball from Mashrafe Mortaza in the first of two one-day international defeats but succeeded only in edging it into the gap between the visor and face guard of his helmet. He has consulted doctors about the possible use of a protective mask in the hope of accelerating his comeback.

The uncertainty over their key batsman's fitness caused Cricket Scotland to postpone the announcement of the squad for the WCL, which does not have to be submitted to the ICC until 29 December, as well as its forerunners.

It was understood last night that one player had been told he had missed out on the January expeditions, but nobody at Cricket Scotland was prepared to identify the unlucky party until he had been offered an explanation in person.

Fifteen players were named in September in a provisional World Cup and WCL squad, but the late inclusion of the newly-qualified Glenn Rogers, and his solid all-round performances in Bangladesh, have made him a difficult man to ignore.

As he waited anxiously for news of the next selection, Majid Haq implored the selectors to retain faith in their spin cartel.

Scotland employed all three spinners - Haq, Rogers and Ross Lyons - on last week's tour of Bangladesh, and Haq hopes they will not change tack for the transition to Kenya, when conditions might better favour seam bowling.

Rogers strengthened his claims in Bangladesh with a wicket and 20 runs with the bat in each match, leaving Haq and Lyons - probably the best home-grown prospects in the game - vulnerable for the tour that will determine who goes to the World Cup in March. However, it is thought the player in the greatest jeopardy was a batsman.

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"The ball didn't actually spin that much in Bangladesh and it might turn more in Kenya, so I hope they will keep using us," said Haq, who took two for 57 on his ODI debut in Mirpur, when he came into the side at the expense of Lyons. "It was a great feeling to get a one-day international under my belt and I will be gutted if I miss out on the next squad."

The Intercontinental Cup game, where victory would take Scotland into a final against Canada, begins on 11 January and Dewald Nel, still recovering from a back injury, is likely to join Watson on the temporary absentee list.

A good-news week for the game continued yesterday with the announcement that Jan Stander's Scotland Under-15s will tour South Africa in March. A 5,000 investment by Aberdeen-based Dana Petroleum has made the trip to Port Elizabeth possible.

That came on the back of Scotland A being offered access to the English county 2nd XI championship, where they will play at least six three-day games next summer.

Scotland Under-15 touring squad: Michael Anderson, Mark Assiter, Aman Bailwal, Jamie Bowick, Andrew Chalmers, Shreyas Chitnis, Freddie Coleman, Freddie Cox, Matthew Cross, Grant Davidson, Andrew Lewis, Anjun Luthra, Kris Mein, James Ross, Peter Ross, Patrick Sadler.