HPP vital for Scotland’s World Cup preparation
Scotland will travel to Australia and New Zealand in September and October, to play state and provincial sides in preparation for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2015.
Scotland qualified for the tournament when they won the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014 in New Zealand at the beginning of the year. They will play two one-day matches in Hobart and four one-day matches in Christchurch as part of the International Cricket Council's High Performance Programme (HPP) tour.
The HPP was launched in 2001 to assist leading ICC Associate Members prepare for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 in South Africa.
The ICC High Performance Manager, Richard Done, visits and works with the HPP countries to prioritise their in-country strategies for their high performance programmes, competition schedules and player development pathways.
The objective of these tours is to help develop the on-field and off-field structures of the Associate Members, with the aim of bridging the gap between them and the Full Member countries and organisations.
Done also engages and manages the operations of a team of specialist consultants who provide identified areas of essential support.
The HPP is important for Scotland’s preparation ahead of the World Cup, as they will have an opportunity to experience playing conditions on grounds where matches against England (Christchurch), Sri Lanka and Australia (Hobart), are scheduled for the competition’s group stages.
Scotland will also be able to call on specialist coaches and former players from Australia and New Zealand, to support their training and planning sessions.
For Scotland's new coach, Grant Bradburn - who took charge in an official capacity for the three-match one-day series against the Netherlands at the beginning of July – it will be an opportunity to implement his ideas and strategies, while learning more about the players he has inherited and still getting to know.
Speaking after the announcement of the upcoming HPP tour, Bradburn said: “The pre-World Cup tour to Australia and New Zealand is a valuable chance for all the Associate teams to keep building playing experiences against quality opposition on conditions that we are likely to be challenged with come February.”
Conditions in Scotland are vastly different to those down under so playing time on these surfaces will give the players a chance to hone their tactical and technical skills.
“From a playing perspective we are expecting to be challenged with quality quick, swing bowling plus world class spin. These are two of the skill areas where the Scotland squad will be working hard to keep building our skills.”
For the players this will represent an opportunity to cement a place in the squad; have a good tournament and the chance for selection will increase, have a poor tour and the dream could be over.
The New Zealand born coach has sounded out a warning to his players; they will be feeling the pressure but will be filled with anticipation at the thought of taking part in the game's pinnacle 50 over competition.
“Excitement is building in the camp. Players are well aware already that there will be healthy internal competition for places in the final 15, so every opportunity from here on in, is critical for selection and preparation,” he said.
The ICC announced that the four qualifying teams for the tournament will all take part in the HPP tour, which is there to assist the qualifiers' preparations for the showpiece event.
Afghanistan, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will join Scotland in Australasia.
Scotland will play New Zealand A - a side full of Test and One-day International experienced players - in a three-match one-day series in Ayr (15th and 17th August) and Edinburgh (21st August). The team will then travel to Ireland in September for a three-match series in Dublin, prior to departing on the HPP tour.
These six matches will be the last opportunities to stake a place in the HPP touring party; one more step in the journey to cricket’s “Holy Grail” and a lifetime’s ambition fulfilled.