Scots set for ICC WT20Q
The 14 squads battling it out for qualification to the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016 have had two days to iron out the chinks, soak in the conditions, and rally the troops before the ICC World T20 Qualifier 2015 begins in Ireland and Scotland on Thursday (July 9). While some warm-up games on Monday and Tuesday were curtailed or completely washed out by persistent rain, Scotland was fortunate to come out smiling with two big wins.
Against Jersey, it rode on a fluid 44-ball 75 from opener George Munsey to reach 199 for 5, before Safyaan Sharif and Michael Leask picked up three wickets each to earn the team a 69-run win (Duckworth-Lewis method). The previous day against Namibia, it was Richie Berrington doing the smashing, his 35-ball 61 allowing Scotland to coast to a six-wicket win with 22 balls to spare. Leask was among the wickets then too, with Alasdair Evans and Gavin Main more than doing their bit.
With the whole squad firing in the run up to the main tournament, Grant Bradburn, the Scottish coach, was a satisfied man. “It's been particularly pleasing in the last two days to have most of the squad involved,” he said on Tuesday.
“Yesterday's game against Namibia, our top order didn't fire, but the middle order did the job. Today, the top order fired, the middle order fired and the bottom order played cameos as well. And the bowling attack and fielding is pretty much where we want it to be.
“We've selected a well-balanced side. The toughest thing will be leaving four guys out.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Munsey, who struck nine fours and four sixes in his match-winning knock. “Personally, yes, it's good to get some runs. Collectively, that's what we strive for. It's good that everyone is coming into the runs before we head on to the tournament on Thursday,” he said.
“We've been working for a while looking to be nice and positive and enjoy our cricket. We've got a really good team atmosphere at the moment.”
Scotland's preparation for the tournament included a four-match bilateral T20I series with Ireland last month, which it won 2-0. Now, it will hope to keep up its winning run.
“We're extremely happy with the preparation we've had,” said Bradburn. “We felt we're physically ready and these two (warm-up) games have topped it off really in terms of giving us a little bit of a run out on the conditions, in the environment we'll be playing in.”
The top six sides from the 18-day tournament, during which 51 matches will be played, will join the 10 Full Members for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, which will be held from 11 March to 3 April next year. The sides that top the two groups will automatically qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 India 2016, while those that finish second and third in each of the two groups will play cross-over matches with the two winners joining the table-topper for the tournament.
Scotland, which opens its campaign against UAE, has its sights set on the top spot in Group B. And Bradburn believes his young side will get there.
“We're all freshness. It's so nice to have new faces in the line-up, guys that have earned their right [to play for the national side]. It's a very specific skill set we're asking for in this format,” he said. “It's exciting for Scotland cricket to see so many young guys who have come through Scotland junior progression and have earned their full cap.”
Scotland faces a tough challenge in Group B, with Afghanistan, Netherlands, UAE, Canada, Kenya and Oman on the same side of the draw.