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Sun will rise slowly in brave new dawn

As SCOTLAND'S cricketers set their sights on the distant target of attaining Test status they could hardly be in better hands because few know what is required better than Grant Bradburn.

Grant Bradburn takes over as coach on July 1. Picture: Donald MacLeod
Grant Bradburn takes over as coach on July 1. Picture: Donald MacLeod

His father Wynne having made just a couple of Test appearances in the era when New Zealand's opportunities were few and far between, Scotland's new head coach himself enjoyed - if that is the right word - an 11-year international career that encompassed seven Tests and 11 one-day internationals.

There was no conspicuous success in either his first spell with the Black Caps, between 1990 and 1992, or when he was recalled for a couple of Tests and a handful of ODIs in 2001. However, the resilience shown in maintaining standards during a 16-year first-class career - which saw him make a record 115 appearances for his provincial side Northern Districts - speaks to the sort of character that Bradburn must help instil in his new charges.

He knows it is too soon to make rash predictions about what can be achieved and made it clear that he was joking when he said he would love to win the World Cup next year, Scotland never having won a match at the tournament. However, he believes what he described as the "dream" of playing Test cricket could conceivably be achieved with the right amount of hard work. Bradburn was perhaps being more cautious than he needed to be, given that Scotland have now been offered a pathway to Test status through the Intercontinental Cup.

"Part of my reason for classing that as a dream at this stage rather than a goal is that I've been here for 24 hours; I don't know the players, but I see that as an advantage for me too - to walk in and stamp my philosophies on the team without having any preconceived ideas on the players especially, or the staff," he said.

He understands, too, that it is not just a case of taking what have been tried and tested methods in an environment he knew intimately, into one of which he knows little.

"I'll allow myself some time, which is something I espoused in the interview process, to really be conscious to empathise with the good qualities in systems and structures that are in place in Scotland and not to walk in here and bring systems and structures that worked in New Zealand.

"I look to walk in here with knowledge and see what is in place but assess and adapt quite quickly and re-assess and keep driving those skills forward to goals and skills that will match world-best performance."

He arrives at an important time in the development of the sport in Scotland, because not only has the International Cricket Council (ICC) only recently announced that a route is now available for associate nations to get into Test cricket, but a new National Performance Centre is being set up in Stirling.

Bradburn can now ensure that it is customised to what he believes is required to help Scottish players extract their maximum potential.

"It's hugely exciting," he said. "Another thing that's been a big attraction to the role has been the willingness of the people involved in Cricket Scotland to be open to being guided around those decisions moving forward."

Towards that end he has embraced the opportunity to work with coaches who know the Scottish game intimately, with Craig Wright and Toby Bailey staying on as assistants after helping steer the team through the World Cup qualifiers.

However there is scope to supplement his team, and he has the contacts to bring in high-class expertise. "I do have people in mind and I have networks that we can tap into, but I'm going to allow myself some time to see what's needed first rather than surround the players with people who may have a name but who might not have the right resource," Bradburn explained.

"I'm really keen to allow some time to see what is required and surround the team with a small but effective staff. I think that's the key.

"Martin Crowe was the New Zealand captain when I played and he would be a key influence. I've also played with a number of quality players. Daniel Vettori and Scott Styris would be another two who are still playing and I've been involved with for a long period of time.

"Paul Collingwood has also been in and around the team. I haven't met Paul but I understand from my colleagues that he's a fantastic character. That's hugely important.

"There are a number of people who I know would be very, very keen to offer their skills and support, not only to me personally but also to the players as and when required. We'll take some time to look at things."

The 47-year-old said he was keen to establish links with the compatriot set to take charge of the national rugby team this summer. "One of those strategies that I'm comfortable with and very keen to tap into is cross-coding," said Bradburn.

"I've got some great networks and with Vern Cotter coming shortly that would be an obvious connection to get the staff interacting."

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