IF you're a Scotland cricketer, chances to make a mark on the world stage are few and far between and must be grasped when they arrive.

If all goes according to plan, the team's latest bid for global acclaim will culminate next March in India at the World Twenty20 finals. To get there, they first must negotiate the qualifying tournament that starts on Thursday and the experience of the recent past - they have not been involved in the finals since 2009 - serve as a stark reminder of how easy it is to mess up.

To add to the pressure, the Scots know that for the foreseeable future, T20 will be the only format that gives them a realistic chance to take on the world. True, there is a theoretic route to Test status, but no doors will open on that front before 2019, and the elite sides have made sure it is somewhere between tough and impossible for sides like Scotland to make it to the 50-over World Cup. For the time being, all eggs are in the T20 basket.

Not that that is a bad thing, maintains Andy Tennant, Scottish Cricket's head of performance. The short form is ideally suited to the Scottish weather, the Scottish psyche and the current national team. All the ducks are lined up up to turn the next three weeks of helping to host the World T20 Qualifier into a breakthrough for the sport. All they have to do is make sure they knock them all down.

"We are excited about T20 and I think the ICC think that T20 is where it is at for the Associates, given the accessibility of the World Cup," Tennant said. "If we are looking at the commercial value of cricket in Scotland, it is the most likely way for us to be able to leverage some revenue. Undoubtedly it is more suited to the Scottish palate. From that point of view it does excite us.

"It is a fast, exciting game that happens quite quickly; that suits not only the Scottish palate but the 21st-century life. For our team we have young batters, young players like George Munsey coming through, Craig Wallace who has shown he has something to offer in this format, on top of your known names, Calum MacLeod, Matthew Cross.

"We have five or six dynamic batters alongside the high-quality ones like Preston Mommsen, the ICC Associate Cricketer of the Year, Kyle Coetzer's 156 against Bangladesh was a memorable [moment] in Scottish cricketing history. We are excited, it is certainly the most incendiary batting line-up we have had for a long time."

The warm-up games against Namibia and Jersey, today and tomorrow in Edinburgh, should help settle nerves, but the serious stuff gets under way at the Grange on Thursday with the notoriously unpredictable UAE up first for the co-hosts. Then follows a weekend of hectic action, a more relaxed week and then the pool stage reaches its climax the following Saturday when they play Oman. The knock-out stage is in Dublin at the end of the following week.

"There are not many sides who would say home advantage is no help, we are looking to maximise our knowledge of the grounds and conditions we have grown up in," Tennant admitted during a break from an event at West of Scotland CC laid on by McCrea Financial Services, its sponsor.

"While conditions are suitable for us, we are hoping they will be less so for the Asian teams who traditionally struggle a little more when the ball moves around. If we were playing this anywhere on the planet, though, we would be backing ourselves to qualify from a difficult group. There is a real confidence around the side.

"It is imperative that we qualify. When six teams go through, it would be tough not to make it in our own conditions. We are in a difficult group though, with some good T20 sides, including the Netherlands who made the latter stages of the last T20 World Cup. Afghanistan and UAE are dangerous and you never quite know what you are going to get from Kenya.

"We are not taking anything for granted but we are the leading-ranked ICC Associate member at T20, 10th in the world, and are going into it with confidence, which we have to use to top the group and qualify automatically.

"What T20 offers us is that it gives a very dynamic, young team with a good skill set for T20 cricket the opportunity to do well. From that point of view, we are excited with the side, we believe we have some dynamic young batters, some good bowling and our team of the right age - we're on the upswing."