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Scotland go out with a bang

KYLE COETZER may have had mixed feelings as he watched his Scotland team-mates clinch their place in glamorous Group A at next year's World Cup.

Coetzer will lead Scotland in New Zealand
Coetzer will lead Scotland in New Zealand

However, any feeling of frustration at missing out, through injury, on the closing stages of the qualifying campaign in New Zealand was kept well concealed as he joined the celebrations in the wake of victory over UAE in the final of the World Cup Qualifying Trophy.

Still nursing a wrist injury which forced him to miss the latter stages of the tournament, it was his replacement as leader, Preston Mommsen, who led the way with a brilliant 139 not out in a 41-run win at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln.

The victory secured a return to New Zealand a year from now when, all being well, Coetzer, the Northamptonshire batsman, will be back at the helm to lead the Scots in a mouth-watering series of fixtures.

They open up against the co-hosts New Zealand in Dunedin on February 17 before taking on England at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch, in what will be a first World Cup meeting with the Auld Enemy. Matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh follow in Dunedin and Nelson before the Scots travel to Tasmania to complete the group phase against Sri Lanka and the other co-hosts Australia at Bellerive Oval, Hobart, on March 14.

Coetzer was happy to delight in the efforts of his team-mates and particularly Mommsen who had been forced to miss last November's World T20 qualifiers with a pelvic injury.

"I don't think we could have asked for any more from all the guys and I don't really think things could have gone any better," said Coetzer, the former Stoneywood-Dyce player. "I am especially pleased for Preston because it was tough for him not being at the T20s and, of course, you can see from his performances here that you can't replace guys like that. He has matured and shown his class with the way he can hit boundaries and then find gaps to get off strike."

Mommsen was named Player of the Tournament after scoring 520 runs at an average of almost 87 with two centuries, but the top score in the tournament belonged to Calum MacLeod, another of Scotland's successes.

MacLeod's 175 against Canada was the 19th highest score in all one-day internationals and enough to secure a trial with Durham in April for the man who was released by Warwickshire three years ago.

"Calum has worked so hard," said Coetzer. "He went through a really tough time in his career but he has turned himself into an exceptional batsman. At times he can be impossible to bowl at with the range of strokes he has."

While this is a time for some hearty mutual back-slapping, there is also an acknowledgement that a lot of hard work lies ahead if Scotland are to make an impression and perhaps claim a scalp or two at the World Cup.

Paul Collingwood, the interim-joint coach whom the Scots will invite to stay on in a consultancy role, said: "These guys definitely have the skills.They've certainly got it with the batting and the fielding is exceptional but there are some areas we've got to work on with the bowling."

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