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Dispiriting defeat but the battle for places is only just beginning

There was little opportunity for those contending for places in the team to meet Ireland in the forthcoming one-day international series to enhance their cases yesterday as the last of Scotland's meetings with New Zealand A was abandoned after less than nine overs' play.

Hamish Gardiner is dismissed in Wednesday's match but not before he had made an impressive contribution. Picture: Donald MacLeod

Those to make the trip across the Irish Sea should be informed today, while a 15-man squad for the first of the winter's tours, to Australia and New Zealand, is expected to be finalised next week after a few days in which Grant Bradburn, their new coach, has found out about more than just the Scottish summer weather.

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After a 199-run thrashing in the opening game at Ayr last week, Wednesday's match at The Grange, which only took place because of a wash-out on Sunday, was arguably the most useful exercise from his perspective once yesterday's encounter was finally called off, not because of the rain that had dogged the day but a hailstorm.

It was preceded by thunder, lightning and more of the batting pyrotechnics that had marked the visit of Bradburn's Kiwi countrymen who, in spite of the agreed reduction to a 30-over encounter, looked bang on course to pass the 300 mark for the third time since they were already on 91-1.

Substantial cause for concern on the bowling front it would seem, then, but Scotland's coach believes it was a very useful for his players, not least because of the standards set by his Kiwi former charges.

"You can see here there's a big pool of quality players just under the top tier who are fighting for spots in that top team," Bradburn observed. "The one thing they have done very well over the last few years is built internal competition for places. You could see that in the way they are desperate to perform here; you could see it in the way that their captain, BJ Watling, who is a Test player, was in the field.

"He was dynamic in the field and showed an attitude which wouldn't suggest that this was a non-ODI against Scotland; the way he was performing [was as if] it was a Test match against Australia.

"The attitude is there from those guys because they know that they're fighting for places and that's exactly what we're wanting to create over time here in Scotland."

The highlight of the week from a Scottish perspective was the 99-run partnership between Hamish Gardiner and the longer-established Richie Berrington in Wednesday's match which offered Bradburn considerable encouragement.

"I particularly liked the way that Hamish largely looked to hit the ball on the ground," he noted.

"I think he was looking to be positive, looking to score, looking to be busy. Those quality basics of the game are lessons that perhaps a couple of others in our order need to take a look at too and just give themselves a chance to do what they do for longer."

While he gives the impression of being much more a nurturer than a task-master, soft-spoken and considered in his public utterances, that seemed a clear message to all concerned in terms of their application, but the six weeks or so since Bradburn took the job have been a learning process for all concerned. In effect he has now taken stock of the resources available to him and must work out how best to use them.

"The mere fact that we have a Scotland team together for a week is a great opportunity for us to continually develop the skills we know are required at this level," he said.

"We have a few of our first team missing but still this is a great opportunity for these guys to build experiences and for us also to provide opportunities and to expose players in positions we believe they should be performing in.

"We're giving them all the support and the belief they need to go and do that job but ultimately it's up to them to take that chance. We have precious few games before the World Cup so we have opportunities for guys to underline their spots."

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