As the Scotland men’s squad head out to Dubai for the the next round of the CWCL2, it is clear they want to put a marker down for the year ahead.
After Scotland reached the second stage of the ICC T20 World Cup in October and November last year in the UAE and Oman there was a real sense of excitement about where this group of players could go in that format of the game and in 50-over cricket.
Since then, the players involved on that trip and others who are part of the wider squad have been working hard in training, but now with April approaching they are “champing at the bit” to get back to competitive cricket according to captain Kyle Coetzer.
And, thankfully, they do not have to wait long now as they set off on Thursday [31st March] to the UAE to play in an ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 series versus Papua New Guinea and Oman.
The overall event began in late 2019, but because of the pandemic some countries have played many more games than others to date.
For example, Oman are currently top of the seven team 50-over competition table which is building up to the ICC World Cup next year because they have won 17 of 28 matches played.
Scotland are third currently having won seven from 12 while PNG are bottom having won one from 16.
The Scots’ last outings in the competition came again these same opponents just prior to the T20 World Cup and Coetzer said: “It has been a long time coming and the guys really are champing at the bit to get going again.
“Although 2021 was a bit ‘stop start’ with the pandemic still impacting things we felt at times we played some good cricket in the 50-over games that we had and then reached the second phase of the T20 World Cup, so there is plenty to build on.
“This UAE trip is the start of a very, very busy year for us with other Cricket World Cup League 2 series to come, home matches with one of the world’s best in New Zealand and then another T20 World Cup, so it is no surprise to hear that the guys are very excited.
“We have also set ourselves high standards for this year and that starts with putting down a marker on this trip.
“The two sides we will be up against are ones that we know well and we know how dangerous they can be on their day, so we have to be focused on each game as it comes.
“For the trip we have guys like batter Chris McBride coming into the mix and he could earn his first full cap. He deserves this chance and it is great to see guys from the wider squad pushing more experienced players.
“We will need that strength-in-depth over the next few months, there are opportunities there for people to grab.”
Others who may well get a chance to impress on this trip are left arm seam bowler Brad Currie and all-rounder Fin McCreath.
The former has replaced Ally Evans in the group originally named for the trip as he rests an injury while McCreath was originally travelling as a development player, but may yet get a chance to play.
With head coach Shane Burger unavailable for this trip due to personal reasons, his assistant Craig Wright takes interim charge and he said: “Training has been going well and the guys are just buzzing to get back to some competitive cricket.
“What has pleased me of late has been the intensity of the training and the work being put in and we are all aware that we want to hit the ground running for 2022 on this trip.
“It is nice to see a few new faces in amongst a settled group and they have integrated well. The batters have also benefitted from some sessions with Stevie Gilmour of late and I am looking forward to seeing how the team performs.”
Gilmour will not be travelling with the squad, but they will be supported by Wright as interim head coach, batting and fielding coach Toby Bailey, S & C coach Nick Karamouzis, physiotherapist Karen Gibson and team manager Kenny Crichton.
Scotland will play PNG on 9th April, Oman on 10th April, PNG on 13th April and Oman on 15th April.
Travelling squad: Kyle Coetzer (C), Richie Berrington, Dylan Budge, Brad Currie, Matthew Cross, Michael Leask, Gavin Main, Calum MacLeod, Chris McBride, Fin McCreath, George Munsey, Adrian Neill, Safyaan Sharif, Hamza Tahir, Mark Watt.