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May 14, 1999


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Scotland the brave

Steven Lynch

  Captain George   Salmond has a tough   task ahead
  Pic: Clive Mason /   Allsport

Scotland scraped into the World Cup by finishing third in the ICC Trophy - they beat Ireland in the play-off in Kuala Lumpur - and are slightly apprehensive at how they'll fare against the big boys. Jim Love, the former Yorkshire batsman, is now Scotland's director of cricket, and he says: ''Reaching the World Cup was the biggest thing, but now we're there it's quite a daunting prospect. We're not just doing it for Scotland, we're representing all the associate members of ICC, so it's important we do ourselves justice.''

I saw the Scots at their nets in Glasgow shortly before they followed England to Sharjah for some pre-tournament practice. All of them were a little stir-crazy after all those indoor nets, and were aching to play outside. Unfortunately, outdoors in Scotland in March and April is usually cold and wet (and there was snow on the nearby hills), hence the trip to the Gulf. A bigger gulf is likely to be exposed when Scotland's optimistic part-timers take on the Test nations. They have two players who currently play in English county cricket, Yorkshire's Gavin Hamilton and John Blain of Northants, and another with recent county experience in James Brinkley, but the others are enthusiastic amateurs who play in Scotland's newly formed national league. Hamilton, Blain and Brinkley are all useful fast bowlers, and with left-armer Asim Butt, who played a few first-class matches in Pakistan before moving to Scotland, they have a handy fast-bowling attack.
''We've got four good seamers who'll give the batsmen a good workout,'' says skipper George Salmond. ''But the batting maybe doesn't have that depth. But we're going to enjoy it.''
Love confirms: ''If we lose three quick wickets we're in trouble, so we aren't really thinking in terms of a pinch hitter.''

The match against fellow associates Bangladesh is ''our Cup final'', according to opener Bruce Patterson. ''We'll be hoping to win that and maybe nick another result somewhere.'' The fixture list has done them few favours: a daunting opener (Scotland's first official one-day international) against Australia at far-off Worcester, then a bit nearer home for Pakistan at Chester-le-Street. After Bangladesh ,it's West Indies at Leicester, and back to Edinburgh for New Zealand, who walloped the Scots in the Commonwealth Games.

Hamilton, born in Scotland but raised in Kent, is likely to be Scotland's key player. He was actually named in England's preliminary squad of 30 for the tournament, but the Scots kept a space open for him. And, when Hamilton was missing from England's final selection, Scotland whipped him in. Hamilton agreed to play, after the ICC ruled that appearing for a non-Test country would not jeopardise anyone's future Test selection. So good allround performances for Scotland could lead to a rapid call-up for England - perhaps as soon as the Test series against New Zealand which follows the World Cup. If that happens, Hamilton will be ready:
''I'm sure my Scotland team-mates understand my position,'' he said, ''and there's no animosity. If you're a professional cricketer in England you've got to aim to play for England.''

Another important man will be veteran opener Iain Philip, who turns 41 during the tournament. He has made more appearances and scored more runs for Scotland than anyone else, and his 234 against MCC in 1991 is their highest-ever score.
Salmond says: ''It's a big opportunity for Philpie to do his stuff on the world stage ... I hope he'll do well and prove the class he has.''

Overall Scotland will be hoping to avoid embarrassment. Jim Love thinks defeat by anything less than 75 runs against Australia in their first match will constitute a good performance. Then there's that 'Cup final' against Bangladesh - who impressed in their three warm-up games - to look forward to. The brave band of estate agents, teachers and coaches are certainly keen and raring to go - but it does look as if the Test nations will be queuing up to hammer the Scots.

Meet Scotland's 15: GEORGE SALMOND
Captain, RHB, age 29
A nimble right-hander, and an excellent fielder. A teacher at George Watson's College, Salmond has captained Scotland since 1995. 'He's a clever tactical captain,' says Love, 'but inspirational too. He leads by example.' He plays for Edinburgh's Grange club, whose Raeburn Place ground will host two World Cup matches. The pitch there is likely to be a bit slow and low, and greenish - 'We're talking about May in Scotland, you know!'

RHB, RM, age 34
Allrounder Allingham, a schoolboy record-holder, is now schoolmaster himself, as well as an advanced coach. A handy middle-order improviser, who moved up to No. 3 in Scotland's warm-up games, he can also chip in with some handy overs at medium-pace. Rugby (scrum-half) for Scotland B. One of the few in the side to have played with a white ball: 'But that was about seven years ago ...'

  John Blain Bowling
  in the net
  Pic: Clive Mason /   Allsport

RHB, RFM, age 20
Brisk right-arm seamer who took 5 for 24 on his Sunday League debut for Northamptonshire v Derbyshire in 1997. Scotland's youngest player this century (17 in 1996), and still the youngest in this squad. Arguably their fastest bowler - but might not get the new ball, as Brinkley and Butt impressed with that in '98. A good outfielder who will bat around No. 7.

RHB, RFM, age 25
Scotland-born seamer who was brought up in Australia, and played in Zimbabwe as well as brief county stints with Worcestershire and Essex. A good World Cup could earn him a third county contract. Another late-order right-hander with pretensions to moving up the order.

RHB, LFM, age 31
Stocky left-arm bowler who hits the seam at a fair pace. Born in Lahore, where he played a few first-class matches, he moved to Scotland five years ago and is now an assistant retail manager. Made his national debut last year, and won the Man of the Match award in his first match, in the Benson & Hedges Cup against Yorkshire, on his 30th birthday. A low-order batsman, but capable of the odd big hit.

RHB, WK, age 37
On the tall side for a wicketkeeper, he played one game for Surrey in 1985. Born in Pakistan, where his diplomat father was posted, and went to school in Wales ... 'But he's lived in Scotland for years,' says Love, who adds: 'He's a good technician, but very quiet for a keeper - we're trying to get him going a bit.' A sports development officer.

RHB, OB, age 29 (30 on June 10)
A short man but a big spinner of the ball with reasonable control. Throws it up with a good loop, and forms a good spin partnership with Sheridan, who pushes it through. A teacher, he recently moved to a school in Hampshire: he plays his club cricket for Chichester. An outfielder with a good arm, but a No. 11 batsman - 'Or possibly even No. 12,' jokes Love. A primary-school teacher.

LHB, RFM, age 24
Finished last season in fine style for Yorkshire. Agreed to play for Scotland again after ICC ruling that it would not affect his Test qualification. A left-hander, he'll bat around No. 5, and forms part of the strong seam attack. Did the match double (100 runs, 10 wickets) for Yorkshire v Glamorgan at Cardiff last year, and has a best return of 7 for 50 (11 for 72 in the match) for Yorkshire v Surrey at Headingley, also in 1998. Love hopes Hamilton's knowhow will rub off on the players with less big-match experience.

RHB, age 34
His opening partnership with longtime team-mate Iain Philip is vital to Scotland's plans. The consistent Patterson - a tall right-hand opener from Ayr who can score all round the wicket - has played around 100 times for his country in all matches. Usually a slip fielder. Now an estate agent who says he has earned 'not a sausage' from cricket over the years.

RHB, occ WK, age 40 (41 on June 9)
The oldest player in the tournament, but an elegant, prolific batsman who has made runs at every level. Most appearances and most runs for Scotland, and also made their highest score - 234 against MCC in 1991. When in Scotland, where he plays for Stenhousemuir, he's a groundsman: but he winters with his mother in Australia, playing cricket and 'driving a taxi, I think', says Love. Reserve wicketkeeper.

RHB, SLA, age 28
A steady, shortish left-arm spinner who pushes it through. Took five wickets against the Australians in 1997, and did well in the ICC Trophy in Malaysia. A civil engineer, and a Scotland player since 1989. Plays for Glasgow's Poloc club.

RHB, age 33
Probably the best batsman in the side on his day, but rather inconsistent. A stylish right-hander, he top-scored in the ICC Trophy playoff match against Ireland which got Scotland to the World Cup - but had been left out before that. A sales rep who plays for Aberdeenshire, he's been given two months unpaid leave by the Westhill Group. Smith says the World Cup is a 'daunting prospect', but is looking forward to seeing his favourite player, Brian Lara: 'I hope he does well. But not against us.'

RHB, RM, age 27
Another Clydesdale man, and another who spent the winter in Australia. Had a couple of years on Leicestershire's books as a seamer, but is now concentrating more on his batting and will come in around No. 6. Still bowls a bit though.

RHB, RM, age 28 (29 on June 14)
Born in Queensland, where he played grade cricket, but has lived in Scotland since 1991. Now one of the SCU's cricket development officers. Right-arm seamer, late-order bat, and a good throwing arm. Oddly, is not attached to a Scottish club.

RHB, RFM, age 30
Captain of Glasgow's Clydesdale club, where Scotland did their winter training, the tall Williamson is a brilliant fielder. The Scots aren't planning to use a pinch hitter, but if the situation arises he might be the one. Bowls at a brisk medium-pace, after a long, straight, high-stepping run. Scored 57 and took 3 for 68 against the 1995 West Indian tourists. A solicitor, he's named after John Greig, a legendary soccer player for Glasgow Rangers and Scotland. Steven Lynch is managing editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly and a frequent contributor to Cricket Unlimited

Steven Lynch is managing editor of WisdenCricket Monthly, and a regular contributor to Cricket Unlimited.

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