All Out Cricket Interview - Preston Mommsen
From All Out Cricket
Having spent several months sidelined with injury, Preston Mommsen returned just in the nick of time to step in as Scotland’s skipper at the World Cup qualifier in New Zealand. Mommsen was in inspired form and subsequently named Player of the Tournament after guiding the Scots to their first World Cup since 2007. He spoke to Marc Williams of All Out Cricket about what qualification means for Scottish cricket.
How does it feel to have qualified for the 2015 World Cup, and in some style too?
It’s difficult to put into words exactly, it’s only just starting to properly sink in. The team have been through a hell of a lot and we’ve suffered quite a lot of disappointment, so to turn it around as strongly and as convincingly as we did, it’s very pleasing and very satisfying for everyone. To have fixtures against the two home nations [at the World Cup] is special, that’s pretty much a guaranteed sell out crowd so that’ll be awesome. We’ve got a good group and a couple of opportunities to grab wins. We’re not going just to make up the numbers and we’ll be trying to cause as many upsets as we can. Playing England will also be a great fixture of us, of course.
The defeat to Hong Kong in your opening match left you in a precarious position but you went on to win your next seven matches to take the title. What do you put that turnaround down to?
It’s difficult to put my finger on exactly what that change was. In a way it was probably a blessing that we went down in that first game. We had started the tour really well and won all our warm-up games so there was perhaps a bit of complacency but we quickly resolved that and the results followed. It took a lot of strength, character and a good attitude from the guys.
It was the victory against Kenya that secured your qualification. That must have been an incredibly tense game to be part of?
It was a very tense game right from the word go. We lost the toss on a fairly used wicket, we would have liked to have batted first, but we ended up bowling and they probably got 30 or 40 runs too many. At the break we were still fairly confident that we could do it; we knew that there was no other option, we had to do it. The guys managed to hold on and get through that pressure moment.
How about that innings [46* off 37 balls] from Rob Taylor, under so much pressure, to see you home?
It was a superb innings and we owe a lot to him for getting us through that. He’d probably admit himself that he was under pressure with the bat, so I think for him personally that must have been a great feeling and hugely satisfying. We all know what he’s capable of doing and we’re obviously very thankful that he delivered at that time.
Calum MacLeod produced some eye-catching performances at the top of the order. How important is it to have a player like him getting you off to a flier?
I think it’s a massive confidence boost more than anything to have someone like that in our team. He’s capable of taking a game away from the opposition very quickly. That Canada innings was very special, we haven’t seen clean hitting like that probably ever in a Scotland shirt. It was superb and he actually got out with a couple of overs to spare, so it was a bit of a shame really because he had a double-century on the cards. I’m sure he’ll be happy with 175 and the record though!
You stood in as captain for Kyle Coetzer after he suffered a recurrence of a wrist injury. How satisfying was it to lead the side to a major global tournament, and to contribute so impressively with the bat, too?
I think I was lucky that I hit my straps at the right time. I only played one warm-up game because I was coming back from injury so it was actually touch and go as to whether I would be available. But I think it was a good learning curve being away from the squad while they were at the World T20 qualifier. You’re kind of forced to take a different perspective on things. I had to take a bit of time out and then coming back I was forced to mentally prepare a bit differently. I think that’s generally what’s helped me out and what’s got me through. You can never underestimate how important the mental side of the game is.
What have Craig Wright and Paul Collingwood added to the team since they were brought in as joint coaches?
I think their major focus was for players to take responsibility in all facets of the game, be it preparation, physically or mentally and then on game day for players to actually stand up and perform. The atmosphere just shifted for the better and the guys were happy to express themselves and that really showed. They created a more relaxed environment where training was all about the players and they were more than happy to facilitate and make sure we got exactly what we needed. Having had a couple of chats with Paul, he seems very keen to stay involved and I’m sure everyone connected with Scottish cricket would love to have him with us at the World Cup.
What does qualifying for the World Cup mean for Scottish cricket?
It’s absolutely huge. There was a lot of pressure on us going into this tournament; we knew that if we didn’t qualify there wasn’t much cricket for any of us. I think guys accepted that their careers were on the line and that adds to the pressure. The support we’ve had from the Scottish public has been immense. I’ve never known such warmth from the Scottish cricket supporters and I didn’t know there was so many out there to be honest.