Friday, December 9, 2022

Cricket Scotland: Men’s T20 World Cup preview

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Scotland’s best male cricketers reached the second phase of the T20 World Cup last year – and they are aiming to do the same this time around with their 2022 campaign getting underway in the early hours of Monday morning our time in Australia.

In the UAE and Oman 12 months ago, Scotland defeated Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Oman in the first phase which led them to glamour ties against the likes of Pakistan, New Zealand and India.

Two sides from four will go through from Group B after the first phase this time around to take on the big names – although Scotland’s first opponents this time around already are a big name.

West Indies are seventh in the world in this format and have won the event twice in 2012 and 2016, so Shane Burger’s men will really have to hit the ground running at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart (5am UK time).

Scotland are ranked 15th in the world while Zimbabwe (11) and Ireland (12) are also in the section with Sri Lanka, Namibia, UAE and the Netherlands aiming to get out of Group A.

The problem for Scotland, now led by Richie Berrington after Kyle Coetzer stepped back from this format, is that they have only played two full T20 internationals since the last World Cup while their last warm-up game in Melbourne was washed out.

They did beat the Netherlands on Monday in a warm-up and skipper Berrington said:  “We’re really looking forward to this competition, hopefully we can build on some of the performances we had last year at this level.

“We had a couple of good fixtures during our summer against New Zealand this year, it’s always useful to go up against strong teams and we took a lot of learning from those losses.

“I think that the squad is in a good place and we just want to get out there and show a wider audience what we are all about once again.”

The squad is along similar lines to the one that played last year although Michael Jones, the uncapped Brandon McMullen and bowler Chris Sole are involved this time.

And 22-year-old Stirling County all-rounder McMullen is delighted to be a part of the ‘big dance’.

He grew up in Zululand in which is a few hours north of Durban in Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa and he started playing cricket from a very early age.

He played for a school called Grantleigh in Zululand then moved to Clifton in Durban, then Hilton College in the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands area for high school where he boarded. All his cricket in his youth was played at school.

In September 2019 he moved to Scotland and he recounts:  “I came over to Scotland for a six month season immediately after school and I fell in love with the place.

“I said to myself ‘I could see myself building a life over here in Scotland’ and now here we are. 

“I have just gone into to fourth year at Stirling University studying Sport and Psychology and I really enjoy living in Scotland, it is a great place.

“And the Stirling County club has been awesome. I love the place, the people are incredible and I have made some amazing friendships in and around the club.”

So, how did international cricket via residency come to McMullen?

“I’ve always believed that I could play at the highest level and it has always been a dream of mine to do so,” he said.

“The dream to play for Scotland, well since I moved it’s always been in my mind to push and work hard to make that a reality.

“I was absolutely buzzing when I was selected for this tournament, overwhelmed to say the least and it definitely took me a few minutes sitting back and processing what had just happened. I couldn’t be more excited and I think my family may have been more excited than me!”

And what are the right-handed batting all-rounder’s hopes for the event?

“We will take it day by day and game by game and there is definitely a massive belief to get through the group. The skills are here to do it [make the second phase] and we 110% back ourselves that it can be done.”

Scotland squad: Richie Berrington (captain), Matthew Cross (vice-captain), George Munsey, Michael Leask, Brad Wheal, Chris Sole, Chris Greaves, Safyaan Sharif, Josh Davey, Calum MacLeod, Hamza Tahir, Mark Watt, Brandon McMullen, Michael Jones, Craig Wallace.

Scotland fixtures (all in Hobart and all UK time):

October 17 V West Indies (5am)

October 19 V Ireland (5am)

October 21 V Zimbabwe (9am)

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