Scotland in dreamland
Scotland's cricketers have today qualified for the biggest event in world cricket, the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand in February and March 2015.
In a nail biting final Super Six match against Kenya, Scotland reached the required total with three wickets in hand, and just three balls remaining. The result sparked wild celebrations in Christchurch and amongst the cricketing public in Scotland - many of whom have spent sleepless nights watching the action from New Zealand.
After losing their first match of the tournament against Hong Kong, the team went on to win six games in succession while under the most extreme pressure of knowing that a single further loss would mean elimination. The success was built through all the batsmen scoring fluently and the bowlers limiting the opposition in the field. The attacking style of play has produced some exceptional results and has enabled them to take part in cricket's showpiece event next year.
With significant changes currently being discussed by the ICC, and future funding and playing schedules all determined by the outcome of the qualifying campaign, the players and support staff have delivered a superb set of results in a high pressure environment. Under the leadership of coaches Craig Wright and Paul Collingwood, and captains Kyle Coetzer and Preston Mommsen, the squad have achieved the objective set when they left Scotland just after Christmas.
They can now look forward to Saturday's final against the UAE and a chance to win the World Cup Qualifier for the second time, after the success in Ireland in 2005.
The UAE and Scotland will be allocated to either Group A or B in the main world cup draw, depending upon the outcome of Saturday's game. The winner will be in Group A along with England, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, New Zealand and Afghanistan. The loser of the final will be placed in Group B along with Australia, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Zimbabwe and Ireland.
With a World Cup, ODI status and a guaranteed playing programme to look forward to, the national squad can now start the hard work of planning and preparing to take its full part on the global stage in just over a years' time.
As we celebrate qualification into the senior world cup, Scotland's under 19 team leave today for Sri Lanka to prepare for the Under 19 world cup, which is to be held in Dubai in two weeks' time.
These young players can look forward to participating in a major event against the world's best teams as they continue their playing education with the aim of forcing their way into the senior team. From the last under 19 World Cup in 2012, Freddie Coleman, Ruaidhri Smith and Matthew Cross have all graduated to the full team, with Coleman and Cross playing prominent roles in the success in New Zealand.
On the back of the recent ICC award for the best development programme in Europe, Cricket Scotland will be looking to use World Cup qualification as a springboard to further develop and grow the game.