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Scots told to grasp chance for redemption

Having put last November's miserable World T20 campaign behind them, there is a quick opportunity during the next fortnight for Kyle Coetzer's Scotland side to try again and qualify for the 2015 World Cup.

They launch their bid to join the elite in the 50-over format against Hong Kong in Queenstown, New Zealand, tomorrow.

That tussle is the first of four Group A fixtures at the end of which the Scots must be in the top three to progress to the Super Six stage where their hopes of claiming one of just two remaining places at next year's global gathering will be decided.

The former Saltires opening batsman Steve Knox knows the stakes are high, but with first-hand knowledge of the players, having been coach of the Reivers Pro Series team as well as the conditions which await in Queenstown and Christchurch after nine seasons in New Zealand domestic cricket, he is cautiously optimistic.

"I believe we have a massive chance of qualifying," said the 39-year-old who still plays for Heriot's and last week signed a contract to coach the German national team. "The T20 qualifiers were a huge disappointment and we all know the changes that have happened since then."

Knox was referring to the departure of head coach Pete Steindl and the appointment of interim joint coaches Craig Wright and Paul Collingwood. In sport, a change of leadership can frequently lead to an upturn in fortunes. Steindl himself hopes this is the case, as does Knox.

"Everyone knows we have to move forward and the most important people who need to realise that are the players," Knox said. "The silver lining as far as the T20 failure goes is that there is this opportunity straight away to put things right. But they simply have to grasp it this time because you don't get chances like this forever. The good news is that I think they will, particularly since the tournament is in New Zealand."

Knox, who captained Test players Chris Martin and Chris Harris during a successful stint with Christchurch-based St Albans CC, added: "Conditions at the T20 [in the UAE] exposed our lack of depth in the spin department but that will be hidden in New Zealand. The ball seams around a lot more and that will suit our bowling down to the ground and our batsmen will also be much more familiar with the conditions."

As Reivers coach last season, Knox worked closely with Calum MacLeod, Richie Berrington, Majid Haq, Moneeb Iqbal and Safy Sharif - a quintet he believes have the ability to thrive during this campaign. MacLeod, in particular, has caught Knox's eye, especially with scores of 74 and 82 in last weekend's practice matches in Christchurch.

"Calum has been in great form in the warm-up games and scored big runs for us last season in the Pro Series. He looks as if he is ready to do that on a consistent basis in big games for Scotland."

As if to prove the point MacLeod top-scored again yesterday as the Scots completed their preparations with a comfortable 63-run win over Namibia. His 102-ball 71 allowed the middle-order men to open their shoulders, Matty Cross doing so to best effect with three sixes in the final over to propel the total to 275-8.

Leicestershire's Rob Taylor then claimed four wickets for the second match in a row while Gordon Goudie took three including that of Gerrie Snyman who had stalled the victory charge with a battling 73 before being last out in the final over.

"We can take great confidence from the cricket we have played so far but we know the real work starts now," Wright said.

Squad: K Coetzer, C MacLeod, M Machan, F Coleman, R Berrington, P Mommsen, R Taylor, M Cross, S Sharif, M Haq, I Wardlaw, G Goudie, M Leask, G Drummond, M Iqbal.

Fixtures

Mon: v Hong Kong (Queenstown Events Centre)

Thu: v Nepal (Queenstown Events Centre)

Sun 19: v UAE (Queenstown Events Centre)

Thu 23: v Canada (Hagley Oval, Christchurch)

Sun 26-Thu 30: Super Six Stage

Sat 1 Feb: Final (Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln)

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