Wright taking nothing for granted as Hong Kong come calling again
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