Jon Coates, The Scotsman
Nothing in Scottish cricket is ever easy, but Ryan Watson has had the dubious privilege of overseeing the most turbulent week the national team has known. "Obviously, preparations have not been ideal," said the Scotland captain ahead of tomorrow's one-day international date with Pakistan.
The Intercontinental Cup match against United Arab Emirates, which promised four days of preparation, threatens to yield barely half that after heavy rain soaked Ayr's inadequately covered ground. On each of the first three mornings, spectators arrived at Cambusdoon to find the home side playing football on the adjacent astroturf.
In the absence of national coach Peter Drinnen, whose future hinges on the result of internal machinations to remove him, the players have been under the stewardship of Andy Tennant. But he won't be at Citylets Grange tomorrow because of other coaching commitments. Andy Lawson, Drinnen's World Cup assistant and analyst, will join the players tonight, but everything rests on Watson and his on-field lieutenants to put the Drinnen saga to the back of their minds.
Dougie Brown and Kyle Coetzer have also been ruled out of the match this week, but Watson noted: "Team-wise we are not any weaker than we were against Pakistan last year, and we gave a good account of ourselves that day.
"I am obviously not overjoyed about what is happening behind the scenes at the moment, I don't think it's doing cricket in Scotland any good whatsoever, but us players have got to get on with it and that's my responsibility when we walk onto the park, which is where results happen. They don't happen in the dressing room.
"But I'm becoming slightly disillusioned with the term 'senior players'. Eleven of us will take the field representing Scotland and it's up to all of us to stand up and be counted. We have to match the aggression of Pakistan and try to impose ourselves on their bowlers.
"I'm sure the prospect of a decent crowd and the chance to play Pakistan will gee the boys up, and push any other thoughts to the back of our minds. We know what is happening and what is lurking in the background, but I will have a chat to the lads and make sure they are focused on the cricket."
One Scotland player, Majid Haq, is completely free of self-doubt. In 2003, at 20, he kept out Shoaib Akhtar's fireballs in the 2003 meeting of the Saltires and Durham and went on to make a fifty. Now he is opening the batting, and insists he prefers the raw pace offered by Pakistan to the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shaun Pollock, whom he faced at the World Cup.
"If their fast bowlers get it right it's going to be very difficult for us," admitted the laconic Ferguslie all-rounder, who has relatives in Punjab. "Shoaib is up there with Shaun Tait and Lasith Malinga, but the quicker they bowl, the more it gets your blood going and makes you concentrate harder."
Scotland (v Pakistan, Citylets Grange, tomorrow, 10.45am): R Watson (c), J Blain, G Drummond, M Haq, P Hoffmann, O Hussain, N McCallum, D Nel, G Rogers, Q Sheikh, C Smith, F Watts, C Wright.