GOOD news for Scotland and Associate cricket means disappointment for Caley Highlanders this weekend as the Broughty Ferry-based region go into their Tilney Group Pro50 joust against Western Warriors without Kyle Coetzer.
Rather than batting for the Highlanders at sunny Cambusdoon, Ayr, national captain Coetzer will be attempting to strike a few blows on behalf of the non-Test playing nations as he attends his first meeting in Mumbai since being elected to the ICC’s Cricket Committee.
High on the agenda will surely be the need to increase the number of nations competing in future World Cups and there is no doubt that Coetzer will fight the Associate cause with vigour.
However, his new ICC role represents one of several selection setbacks for the Highlanders as they attempt to kickstart their campaign following an opening day defeat to Eastern Knights.
Fast bowler Adrian Neill is unavailable due to travel problems from his new base in the south while Arbroath’s Ross McLean is injured, Ben Wilkinson has exams and Ian Kirk, who was due to make his debut, has work commitments.
Coetzer’s place at the top of the order goes to Arbroath’s South African batsman Hayden Laing, the grand-nephew of former SCU President Ralph Laing.
While the Highlanders are bidding to bounce back from Pro50 defeat, they have since been boosted by last weekend’s thrilling last-over win over the Warriors in the T20 Blitz at Titwood.
Coach Ryan Watson said: “We were delighted with the tight win over West and this should give us a boost of confidence after a poor showing against the East.
“However, we need to improve significantly on our starts in both innings. I am expecting a sunny weekend and hopefully a wicket full of runs – we will be looking for one of top four to register the 1st century of our campaign and more consistency from our batters.
“As for Hayden, he is in his second season at Arbroath now. He stayed here over the winter and trained with the Caley squad. He’s had a good pre-season and is a quality top-order batter.”
Meanwhile, the Warriors, having failed to take advantage of their T20 Blitz home double header at Titwood last weekend, losing to both the Highlanders and the Eastern Knights, have the chance to do better in the longer format.
Coach Andy Tennant promised a bounce-back in the wake of two sub-standard T20 performances and the Warriors will surely take heart from their opening display in the Pro50 when they produced a clinical run-chase to beat champions Eastern Knights.
Conversely, the Knights go in to Monday’s meeting with their tails up following that comprehensive T20 win in which Mike Carson and George Munsey starred with the bat.