Jon Coates, The Scotsman
Scotland captain Ryan Watson was conducting a head-count yesterday after a spate of call-offs threatened to undermine this week's pivotal Intercontinental Cup trip to Ireland.
A squad of 12 will depart for Belfast tomorrow for the four-day clash with the holders at Stormont from Thursday. Already three players, Paul Hoffmann, Glenn Rogers and Gordon Drummond, had withdrawn due to work commitments, and another four joined the absentee list yesterday. Fraser Watts has been denied time off by his credit-assessment company while Majid Haq, Omer Hussain and Qasim Sheikh have been asked to help out with their family businesses.
"They all have to work for their respective employers or families this week," confirmed Watson, whose 154 set up last weekend's landslide victory over the Netherlands. "Work was always going to become a problem sooner or later."
With Gavin Hamilton making his comeback, Grange opener Neil MacRae has won a recall in place of Watts, while Richie Berrington is added to the squad that took on the Dutch in Aberdeen. One more replacement will be named today but it will not be Gregor Maiden, who works in the same department as Watts.
Craig Wright's return could be critical and he was seeing a physio last night as he stepped up his recovery from a hamstring injury. The former captain declared he was confident of getting the green light to face a near-full strength Irish side.
Of all the explanations for pulling out, Haq's was the most bizarre. "I'm really disappointed because I was looking forward to playing Ireland again, with all their left-handers," said the off-spinner. "But my Dad runs a takeaway in Paisley and I have to help out this weekend because my mum and brother are both away in Pakistan, one of our chefs is unavailable and our delivery driver has gone to jail for three weeks."