After a poor start with the bat against New Zealand last week, Scotland fought back hard, eventually losing the match by three wickets. On Monday, Scotland face their old rivals England in a crucial ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Group A clash. ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Full Coverage
On the eve of the match, Scotland skipper Preston Mommsen and coach Grant Bradburn speak to press about the side’s preparation against England, who have lost back-to-back matches.
Q: There’s never been a better time to take on England, has there?
Preston Mommsen (PM): Yeah, obviously it is a good time to be playing them, but at the same time, we’re pretty focused on our own game, and that’s been the mind-set over the last couple of days in the preparation leading up to the game tomorrow. Our focus is purely on the 15 that’s here, and so far things are going well for us in terms of our preparation.
Grant Bradburn (GB): Yeah, absolutely. Any day is a good day for Scotland to play England. I think from the way our guys are progressing, we’re progressing as expected. We’ve had a great build-up to this tournament. We didn’t perform as well as we would have liked in Dunedin, but clearly we showed a lot of character. Whether it’s England next or whoever it next, we’re very much looking forward to just keeping our feet on the ground and progressing and improving day by day. We’re well aware that England pose a massive challenge for us tomorrow, so yes, we’ve done our homework on the opposition, but we’re probably more focused on just doing things a wee bit better ourselves.
Q: You obviously scored more runs against New Zealand than they did. Were you surprised at the extent they were blown away from Wellington?
GB: Having had Tim Southee and Trent Boult and having coached the Knights for a number of years, not really, not surprised. They’re fantastic bowlers at the top of their game. I think it vindicated the 10 overs that they bowled at the start of our game in Dunedin, would have had any side in the world in trouble, and we found that a huge challenge.
We don’t read too much into the actual scores, what England scored and what we scored. We got two guys that got in really nicely and then didn’t go on. Those are the things that we have focused on and really looking to sharpen for tomorrow.
Q: Preston, Paul Collingwood is with your team, and he was an England captain, and he knows the players very well. How important will his input be, and how has he been a help for you guys?
PM: He’s been pretty valuable in the input he’s given and the insight he’s given us into the players. Obviously as you say, he’s played with a lot of these guys, he’s played against a lot of these guys on the county circuit. He’s got a fair bit of knowledge and he’s shared that with the group. We take our preparation very seriously in terms of our analysis work, so yeah, we’ve gone through it, and hopefully that gets us in a good position for tomorrow.
Q: Preston, you said up in Dunedin that you would have probably opted to bat had you won. Have you seen the pitch here, and if so, what do you read into it?
PM: I have not had a chance to look at the wicket yet. Obviously the game took place yesterday, and West Indies got a healthy total up front and apparently took a bit of a turn in the second half. I’ll wait and see until we’ve had a look at the wicket and had a discussion, but by all accounts if it’s the same wicket as yesterday, then I’m sure it will be a decent one‑day wicket.
Q: Speaking of your team discussions, what kind of things did you talk about after being 12 for 4 in the last game?
PM: Well, I think we’ve touched on it, Boult and Southee obviously very skilful bowlers and were bowling well. They were putting the balls in good areas and were exploiting anything that was on offer, and they showed that skill again against England. Obviously we don’t want starts like that, but at the same time we took a lot of confidence from the way we recovered from that position. It’s a case of starting again tomorrow.
Q: Preston, I’m sure you’ve seen all the praise heaped on Ireland after they beat the West Indies. Michael Holding was even calling for immediate Test status. What would a victory for you guys over any Test playing nation, but especially England, do for Scottish cricket?
PM: I don’t think I could really put into words what it would do for this team, for Scottish cricket on the whole, and what it would do for cricket back home right now. Obviously as a nation we have yet to beat a full member team, and that is something that is a major goal for the current team and something we’re working very hard towards.
We know that we’re not far away from that. I think our form in the last 12 months has proved that, but we’ve got to actually get over the line and do that. Tomorrow provides another opportunity, but at the end of the day, it’s still another game of cricket, whether it’s against an associate team or a full member team.
Q: Grant, obviously not being Scottish yourself but you know of the Scotland‑England rivalry. Is there a bit of a case where you have to keep some of these blokes a bit calmer, not letting them get too far ahead of themselves?
GB: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s been a theme for us right the way through. We’ve had a fantastic build-up from – right from February last year when the guys played so well here in Christchurch and ended up winning seven in a row to qualify for the World Cup.
We’ve been fortunate to have been handed a very good opportunity to prepare well. A big part of that preparation has been the discovery, really, for us of the formula that works for us. It’s having fun and enjoying our environment and enjoying our cricket, sticking to the basics. Definitely two teams that we value highly in everything we do. For us, we’ve resisted the urge to fill our spare days with extra training. These guys are fit and strong and very well prepared, so from our point of view, it has been a matter of just making sure that we are taking in the whole enjoyment and the environment here in New Zealand and everything that goes around the World Cup. It’s a huge privilege for us to be here. We intend to enjoy it, and our philosophy is that when we’re working, we’re working, as you’ll see today, and when we’re not, we’re not. Absolutely it’s been a very important part of just switching on and switching off.
Q: Preston, you obviously have a good record at this ground from the World Cup qualifiers last year. It must be an advantage going into this game you know what to expect. What are you expecting from the pitchtomorrow, as well?
PM: I think it’s definitely an advantage for us. I’m not sure whether England have actually played on this ground since it’s kind of reopened, and we’ve played here a number of times in the last 12 months. That is something that we will try and use to our advantage. Generally when we’ve played here, it’s played very well. It’s a good one‑day wicket. If you get in, it has potential to get big scores, and that’s something we’ll be looking for tomorrow is a big partnership up front to lay a steady platform for our innings. Yeah, definitely an advantage for us, and hopefully we can use that tomorrow.
Q: And Grant, before the New Zealand game, they named their team 24 hours in advance. It worked pretty well. Are you going to do the same?
GB: We’re pretty relaxed about that. Preston and I have a very good idea of our best 11 for tomorrow. We didn’t train here yesterday; we trained out at Lincoln in very good conditions out there, but we’d like to have a look at the conditions today, and also just try and get a feel for what might be our best attack especially, but our best 11 fortomorrow.
We actually named our 11 internally before the last training in Dunedin because we were very confident of the game plan that we wanted to put forward to New Zealand. We will probably get through this training and just get a feel for the conditions first and name our 11, tomorrow morning.
Q: Preston, there’s been a lot of talk about the role of associate teams and issues over the constriction of the World Cup at the next World Cup to 10 teams, and one of the big things associate teams have said is they just don’t get enough matches against test playing nations, whether it’s 50‑over cricket or T20 cricket. England play you once every other year. Obviously there was a washout in 2012 so you only played in 2014 and 2010. Is that enough? Are England doing enough to try and support and help their nearest neighbours?
PM: Well, in the face of it, you wouldn’t say that is enough, one fixture every two years. Whether or not that’s down to England cricket, I’m not so sure. But I think in the whole world cricket, something needs to be looked at. If you look at the stats regarding Ireland and the number of full member teams they’ve played against since the 2011 World Cup, I think it was something like nine games, after their performance at that tournament, is that really acceptable in terms of growing the game globally? I’m not so sure that is.
You know, we still – we’re here to enjoy ourselves. We’ve worked really hard to get into this position of playing in a World Cup, but at the same time we know we’re under pressure in terms of an associate point of view and putting in performances to make sure that we stand up and be counted here. But that’s something we accept, something that we embrace, and we’re enjoying that challenge of playing against full member nations. As I said, we’re not meant to beat them, so there’s no pressure on us at all, and we’ll take that sort of philosophy into the game tomorrow.
Q: With England and certainly Scotland and Ireland, whenever the time comes they can cherry pick your best talent to go and play Test cricket. Obviously you guys are adding to the First‑Class and county scene over there. Does it not feel like a bit of a one‑way street? Wouldn’t you like to see a bit more support from the ECB as far as your cricket goes as Cricket Scotland?
PM: I think at the moment we have a lot of guys who benefit from playing county cricket, so the ECB obviously do offer us avenues for guys to progress their games and develop playing a very high standard of cricket. Of course we’d like all the help we can get from big full member nations because I think cricket in Scotland, cricket in Ireland have shown over the last four, five, six years how much potential there is for growth, and I think there’s still a huge untapped market in both those countries, and it would be brilliant to see extra support from other full member nations as well as of course the ICC.
Q: Talking about the Scottish and England rivalry, have you been told by family or friends that you’ve got to beat this team, especially after the way the referendum turned out?
PM: I won’t tell you which way I voted, but yeah, of course, there’s always a huge rivalry between Scotland and England in any sporting event. I’ve been to Murrayfield for a Scotland‑England clash, and the passion that’s on display is pretty awesome, and hopefully that’ll come out again tomorrow.
We’re up for this game. We’ve got a bit very passionate 15 players there who will fight tooth and nail for every run and try and save every run in the field, as well. We’ll be fighting for it tomorrow. There’s no doubt about that. We want to win this game and hopefully we can put in a huge performance.