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ICC Cricket World Cup League 2: Scotland set for title defence in UAE – Crafts-export
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ICC Cricket World Cup League 2: Scotland set for title defence in UAE

Scotland have not played since July 2023 and have not had a permanent head coach for a year.

ICC Cricket World Cup League 2: Scotland set for title defence in UAE
ICC Cricket World Cup League 2: Scotland set for title defence in UAE

So what kind of shape will the defending champions be in when their ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 campaign gets under way on Friday?

The squad for the 50-over competition is familiar, captained by the vastly experienced Richie Berrington.

Last summer, these players came so close to a surprise place at the 50-over World Cup and breezed into the T20 equivalent, which is coming up in June.

Hampshire’s Scott Currie, 22, has been called up for the first time while Sussex wicketkeeper Charlie Tear, 19, is another new face.

Hampshire bowler Brad Wheal is also back in the fold, having last played a one-day international in 2019, but Chris Sole, so impressive in the World Cup qualifier, is again missing through injury.

Currie’s older brother Brad made his debut at the European T20 qualifier – ending a good week in Edinburgh with 12 wickets – so it will be interesting to see how he progresses in an attack that includes Safyaan Sharif, the only Scot to reach 100 wickets at ODI level, and the wily Mark Watt.

Brandon McMullen joined Sole in the World Cup qualifier team of the tournament after piling on 364 runs from his seven innings in Zimbabwe. He also took 13 wickets.

From 13 innings, McMullen has an ODI average of 49.

At the age of 36, Berrington is 72 shy of 3,000 ODI runs to go with his 2,000 T20 runs.

The skipper and McMullen signed off for the summer with a 104 partnership in a T20 win over Ireland and those two will be expected to do much of the heavy lifting with the bat.

But there is able support, with Matt Cross and big-hitting duo George Munsey and Michael Leask next best to Berrington on the ‘still active’ list of all-time scorers.

“The guys are excited to get going again,” said Berrington. “There’s a lot of motivation to repeat what we did last time in the World Cricket League. It’s really important to get off to a good start.

“It’s been great to have a few guys in the squad who haven’t been around it. It’s really exciting to see some younger players come through as well.”

League offers path to 2027 World Cup

Scotland open against Canada in the United Arab Emirates on Friday (06:00 GMT) and meet each opponent twice.

Canada surprised the hosts in Dubai on Wednesday with a three-wicket win, their ninth outing since Scotland last played competitively, while the UAE have had 22 games in that time – including a trio of T20s against New Zealand and Afghanistan.

Spanning almost three years, the tournament also features Netherlands, Namibia, Nepal, Oman and the United States.

Scotland will host games in May this year and next as well as August 2026.

The top-four nations will progress directly to a 10-team qualifier event for the 2027 World Cup, with four places in South Africa and Zimbabwe up for grabs.

While in the UAE, Scotland will also squeeze in three T20s against the hosts, with James Dickinson, Oli Hairs and Gavin Main taking over from Wheal, Scott Currie and Hamza Tahir in the squad for the shorter format.

Overseeing it all will be interim head coach Stevie Gilmour, with assistance from Moneeb Iqbal and Andy McKay.

The trio all worked under previous caretaker Doug Watson, so do not expect many changes.

“For me, it’s about getting the players in a good place mentally and play to their strengths. That’s a big part of my role in such a short-term position,” said Gilmour.

“The guys are used to getting up to speed quickly after a period of not playing, so I’ve got no concerns.

“Hopefully we can get off to a good start on this trip, and whoever is coming in to take over, hopefully put them on the front foot in this competition.”

While the search for a successor to Shane Burger is taking longer than a Geoffrey Boycott double century, the team has been ticking along nicely.

That said, with just one more round of World Cup League 2 fixtures to come before the T20 World Cup adventure in the Caribbean, there is a need to settle the issue.

Scotland squad: Richie Berrington (capt), Matthew Cross, Brad Currie, Scott Currie, Chris Greaves, Jack Jarvis, Michael Leask, Brandon McMullen, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Hamza Tahir, Charlie Tear, Andrew Umeed, Mark Watt, Brad Wheal.

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