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Can Scotland bury the ghosts of 2018 and march into the World Cup?

Last updated on 20 Jun 2023 | 11:42 AM
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Can Scotland bury the ghosts of 2018 and march into the World Cup?

In a chat with, Adrian Neill and Brandon McMullen give a glimpse of what is in store at the World Cup Qualifiers and beyond

Scotland, in the last two T20 World Cups, have shown their true potential. They are a proud country with a rich cricketing history, having featured in multiple World Cups – be it in the T20 format or even in the 50 overs. However, they missed out on a chance to play in the World Cup in England in 2019, but the barest of margins. 

In the 2018 Qualifiers, Scotland were one win away from securing qualification for the World Cup the following year. However, it would not be easy, given that they had West Indies in front of them. West Indies may not be among the best sides in the world, but they were no less than favourites in that tournament. 

Jason Holder’s men were on the back foot right from the beginning, thanks to some relentless bowling from Scotland. “No fear is the way we've got to play and we have a great bunch of players who are ready to go,” Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer had said ahead of the game.

And that’s exactly how they played. From 123 for 2, West Indies were bowled out for just 198, with Safyaan Sharif and Brad Wheal sharing six wickets between them. 

However, it was a couple of umpiring errors, including that of Richie Berrington, wrongly adjudged leg-before just before the rains came in, proved to be their undoing as Scotland finished five runs short. As a result, West Indies progressed to the World Cup in England.

Does that provide an extra motivation for Scotland to do well this time around? Fast bowler Adrian Neill says it has never been discussed in the dressing room.

“Things like that are in the past, there's no point looking back on them. It's all about looking forward and seeing what challenges we can bring in and how far we can get,” Neill said in a chat with

Neill, however, believes it will not be easy.

“The group is really tough,” Neill says.

“Very good teams like Oman, have always been strong in the associate game. UAE have brought in some new players, they're going to be strong. Then you've got your full-member nations, they are probably expected to go through. 

“Our main goal is to get to that Super Six. I believe we can get there with the squad we have and the ability of the players we have. It's not going to be a walk in the park, which no one expects it to be, but it's going to be a big challenge. Whoever wants it most on the day will end up being the winner. There are very good teams. 

“Everyone's expected to beat one another. Hopefully, Super Six is the goal and as far on from there we can get. “

Neill has featured in just eight ODIs since making his debut in 2019. That’s down to the quality of the Scottish pace attack, with the likes of Sharif, Josh Davey, Alasdair Evans, Chris Sole etc, all vying for a spot in the XI. 

Neill, who chose cricket over representing Scotland in Basketball, does not see anything wrong with that.

“It's been good. You're always challenging each other, you're trying to get better or get edge over other bowlers, trying to help each other at the same time. So, it's quite a good environment to be a part of,” the tall fast bowler said.

Speaking of the pace attack, Scotland surprised everyone when they included Brandon McMullen in their T20 World Cup 2022 squad. The 23-year-old featured in age-group cricket with Kwa Zulu-Natal in South Africa before moving to Scotland to pursue his studies.

One thing led to another, and he found himself in the Scottish squad, for the World Cup, no less. He admits he, too, was surprised by the call-up.

“I was a little bit surprised, to be honest. I didn't expect it all. It was a very enjoyable phone call when the head coach phoned me to say I've been selected. It was a great surprise,” McMullen told

While he did not get a chance to play at the mega event, he has played eight ODIs for Scotland since then. “The experience has been unreal, dream come true really,” the Durban-born all-rounder said. 

“I've always dreamt about playing international cricket. To be able to get that opportunity was surreal. Loved every minute of it and hopefully keep it going.”

It’s not easy to be a fast-bowling all-rounder, given that you tend to bowl 7-8 overs and bat in the top five or six, more often than not. McMullen, who idolised Jacques Kallis growing up, believes balance is key, especially if you are trying to keep it up, fitness-wise.

“Trying my best. Trying to work hard as possible. I've got to do the extra yards, being a seaming all-rounder,” McMullen, who has 11 wickets and 176 runs at 44 in ODIs, said.

“Got to put in those extra efforts at training to manage the body to compete at high level and be at 100% at all times. You don't want to be at 70%, then 30% and then 120%. Having balance is key. It comes to training hard and making sure you put that extra effort.”

While neither Neill nor McMullen was part of Scotland’s 2018 campaign, but now have a chance to play a massive part in deciding their future. They are more than prepared for the journey, having shown glimpses of their prowess in the T20 World Cup, where they beat the likes of Bangladesh and the West Indies. India 2023, just a matter of time, then?

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