Scotland depart for Twenty20
Jon Coates, The Scotsman
Their preparations may have been paltry but Scotland certainly won't be undermanned at the World Twenty20 championships. A party of 23 departed for South Africa yesterday, 15 players and eight support staff flying business-class as the ICC spared no expense on its experiment with the tournament.
Only five support staff were permitted at the 50-over World Cup and Cricket Scotland chief executive Roddy Smith was unsure as to the logic of the extra investment in this shorter event. However, the players will not be complaining as they reap the assistance of two coaches, a video analyst, a physio, a team manager and media manager, with two board members filling the quota.
After a six-hour stop in Dubai, the Scots were due to arrive in Johannesburg this morning, where they will have two days of much-needed training before taking on Bangladesh in Saturday's opening warm-up match.
The competition will begin on Tuesday and the Scots open their Group D campaign on Wednesday against Pakistan at Kingsmead, Durban. One of the new faces in Ryan Watson's squad is left-handed batsman Qasim Sheikh, the Clydesdale captain, who is pining for the chance to face the land of his ancestry, who, in Shahid Afridi, possess the most explosive hitter in world cricket. "Mohammad Yousuf is the Pakistan player I look up to most but I'm a big fan of Afridi because he keeps you glued to the TV screen," said the 22-year-old. "He is a crowd-pleaser and I hope he doesn't get going against us, because that could be carnage.
"Whether I play or not, it will be a magnificent experience being in South Africa taking part with the best nations in the world. Pakistan and India might do well at this event because Pakistan have some of the fastest bowlers in the world and India some of the best batsmen.
"But you never know - we might end up rolling one of them and getting a victory. I wouldn't say either of them are as decisive as Australia or South Africa, who are more punishing and make sure they do the job. If one of them has an off-day, we might cause an upset."
But veteran Gavin Hamilton is more cautious in his outlook. "It's all about personnel, and we obviously haven't got Adam Gilchrist in the team," he said. "We have a squad of 15 and have to work out the best-balanced side we have, be realistic and do as well as we can."