Wright tak­ing noth­ing for granted as Hong Kong come call­ing again

The Herald - Herald Sport - - CRICKET - LEWIS STU­ART

THERE was a time, about a decade ago, when Scot­land ruled the world of As­so­ciate Na­tion cricket. This week­end they have the chance to show they can get back to that level, but they are go­ing to have to do it the hard way, start­ing with to­day’s match against Hong Kong, who won the only pre­vi­ous meet­ing be­tween the coun­tries.

That was in last year’s ICC World Cup qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment in New Zealand, and though Scot­land bounced back from that dis­ap­point­ment to go through the tour­na­ment un­de­feated and emerge as cham­pi­ons – a slightly hol­low vic­tory since Ire­land and Afghanistan had pre-qual­i­fied and did not need to take part in the knock­out com­pe­ti­tion – they still re­mem­ber that open­ing match.

Now the sides meet again in the semi-fi­nal of the ICC World Twenty20 qual­i­fy­ing event and Scot­land have ev­ery rea­son to take noth­ing for granted. Not only do they have their own mem­o­ries to fall back on, but Hong Kong have al­ready beaten both Ire­land and Afghanistan in the course of this event and are de­ter­mined to make it a hat-trick of wins over more es­tab­lished na­tions.

“Hong Kong aren’t a team we are go­ing to take lightly,” said Craig Wright, the as­sis­tant coach who was in tem­po­rary charge when the teams last met. “We have seen first-hand what they are ca­pa­ble of last year. They’ve shown what a dan­ger­ous unit they can be in this tour­na­ment and fully de­serve to be in where they are. We’ve got stronger as the tour­na­ment has gone on and we’re look­ing for­ward to a tough en­counter.”

Reach­ing the semi-fi­nals means both have qual­i­fied for the main tour­na­ment in In­dia next year, when the Test play­ing elite join the party, but there is more than brag­ging rights at stake in try­ing to win this qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment. Apart from seed­ings next year and the prob­a­bil­ity of a slightly eas­ier draw for the win­ner in the pre­lim­i­nary round, there is noth­ing quite like ti­tles for un­lock­ing spon­sors’ wal­lets.

By the time Scot­land head for In­dia, Mal­colm Cannon will be in place as Cricket Scot­land’s new chief ex­ec­u­tive af­ter al­most a year of in­terim man­age­ment since Roddy Smith, his pre­de­ces­sor handed in his no­tice. With a mar­ket­ing back­ground, he will be look­ing to ex­pand the com­mer­cial side – a job that is bound to be lot eas­ier if he has tro­phies as ev­i­dence of progress on the play­ing side.

Not that things get any eas­ier if they win this morn­ing. The other semi-fi­nal pits Ire­land, who are host­ing the knock­out stage at Malahide on the out­skirts of Dublin, against Hol­land, who beat Scot­land com­fort­ably in the pool stage. Which­ever it is, it will be a tough game too.

FA­MIL­IAR FOE: Craig Wright was in charge of Scot­land last time they faced Hong Kong

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