Scotland: 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifier Preview

The Saltires seek to overcome their off-field issues

Squad

Richie Berrington (c), Matthew Cross, Alasdair Evans, Chris Greaves, Jack Jarvis, Michael Leask, Tom Mackintosh, Chris McBride, Brandon McMullen, George Munsey, Adrian Neill, Safyaan Sharif, Chris Sole, Hamza Tahir, Mark Watt

Analysis

Scotland came within a hair’s breadth of the 2019 World Cup, denied by the rain and an incorrect LBW call. Despite the near miss, the tournament set the Saltires on a path that saw them beat England, Bangladesh and West Indies, and establish themselves as the team to beat in Associate cricket by winning Cricket World Cup League 2.

But in the last 12 months, Scotland have been beset by a number of off-field issues. In July last year, Cricket Scotland was found to be institutionally racist by a SportScotland report, failing on 28 out of 30 metrics. The report resulted in a complete overhaul of the Cricket Scotland board, tasked with addressing the structural issues described. But only six months on, the appointed Chair of Cricket Scotland resigned, citing difficulties working with Sport Scotland, and causing further personnel changes.

Added to the difficulties caused by Scotland redirecting resources away from matters on field, the Scotland squad has been affected by the retirements of two key players: former captain Kyle Coetzer and stalwart batter Callum MacLeod. Filling the shoes of two of Scotland’s finest top-order players may be challenging enough, but is compounded by the loss of the coach, Shane Burger, to Somerset earlier in the year. Interim head coach Doug Watson takes charge of his first tour with the Saltires.

Like the Netherlands, Scotland also have key players missing to the county set-up. Opening batter Michael Jones and stalwart bowler Josh Davey are unavailable, whilst seamer Brad Wheal is injured.

Scotland’s most recent competitive outing was their final Cricket World Cup League 2 leg in Nepal. The won two games against Namibia, enough to secure the league tow title, but lost both games against the hosts.

Key Players

The ‘Spin Twins’ Mark Watt and Hamza Tahir will form a key part of the bowling attack in conditions that are likely to favour spin, particularly as the tournament progresses. Meanwhile captain Richie Berrington and opener George Munsey will form the backbone of the batting line up.

A number of Scotland’s young players have stepped up to fill the gaps left by senior player’s retirements. Tom Mackintosh and Jack Jarvis both step up having recently played U19s. All rounder Brandon McMullen will aim to capitalise on the strong start to his international career.

However, missing two of their key bowlers, Scotland’s seam attack remains a perennial weakness, particularly if the wickets are flat at the beginning of the event.

Expectations

Scotland remains the benchmark for on-field performance in Associate cricket, but faced with numerous off-field challenges, they will be hard-pressed to repeat their 2018 performance.

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