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England not so daunting to a team who played for their future and won

There will, of course, be tension in the Scotland dressing room as they prepare to face England in a one-day international at Aberdeen's Mannofield today but any concern should be nothing compared with what they have already had to address this year.

 Scotland coach Craig Wright. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA
Scotland coach Craig Wright. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

Following the national team's failure, at the end of 2013, to qualify for the World Twenty20, the Scots went into the qualifying tournament for next year's World Cup knowing they were playing for their cricketing lives. The stark reality was that, with funding from the global governing body depending on their involvement in major tournaments, career paths would have been redrawn had they failed in that qualifying tournament in New Zealand and their coaches did not shy away from telling them so.

"We tried to be up front with that and say these are the facts, there's no point trying to hide behind them," explained Craig Wright, their caretaker head coach. "The guys were very honest about that when we spoke at the start of the tournament. We said let's just flip this round and try to use it as something to inspire us rather than something we're going to be intimidated and cowed by."

Having also been part of Pete Steindl's management team at the T20 tournament in the UAE, Wright said the disappointment there, which cost the then head coach his job, had only added to the thrill of what followed in New Zealand. "That more than anything made it special," he said. "There's no doubt that the players and everyone was under pressure in terms of the consequences of not doing well in that tournament. The wider ramifications were so significant.

"The most positive thing from our point of view was the way the players responded to that challenge. Throw on top of it the fact that we lost the first game against Hong Kong so we effectively had to win pretty well every other game, it's a massive amount of credit to them in terms of how they dealt with the psychological challenge of the whole thing and also, I hope, a huge realisation for them in terms of what they're capable of."

In many ways the on-going project for all concerned is to look to draw upon that in realising what they can achieve when it matters enough and transfer that into the sort of consistency that has been absent from Scotland performances in recent years.

While, then, it may be unfair to expect them to be immediately capable of beating the likes of England, peers such as Ireland and Holland have done just that in the recent past and Wright wants his players to give themselves a chance by maintaining the mindset they developed just a few months ago.

"It's a big task, but an exciting task," he said of today's match.

"I think the players found something in January that we can carry over into this game to use against England that gives us a good chance of putting in a good performance.

"We built a bit of momentum both in terms of the cricket we were playing and the mindset around the group which, if we can reconnect with that, then it puts us in a good place to put in a good performance and hopefully get a good result. Every time we get a chance like this it's an opportunity to show that we're developing as a team and we're not too far away from being able to challenge the higher-ranked teams on a regular basis."

Having worked with Paul Collingwood, a former England one-day captain, in New Zealand, Wright is taking caretaker charge of the team until he becomes part of new head coach Grant Bradburn's backroom staff on July 1.

On the face of it what confronts the Scots today could hardly be tougher since a full-strength England will be out to impress their own new head coach, Peter Moores.

Clearly eager to send out positive messages to his men, Wright reckoned that could work both ways, however.

"It's largely a similar group of players who struggled over the winter," he said of the visitors. "A new coach coming in creates pressure. I think the bottom line is that there's far more pressure in terms of the expectation on them than there is on us so, hopefully, while our trajectory as a team is on the up, theirs hasn't been up to the level they would have expected over the last five or six months."

While Scotland have met England twice in recent years this particular encounter has also taken on rather more significance, as Wright noted.

"There's that added excitement with it being an early-season game and it's England, which brings a little extra edge for a start. They're a team we play in the World Cup in less than a year's time, so there's a lot of different things thrown into the mix - new coaches etc, etc - to make it even more exciting," he said.

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