AS a winter night begins to bite and Clydesdale's cricket ground surrenders to chilly darkness, Peter Drinnen is finally tempted to throw his thoughts forward a few months to warmer climes and Scotland's participation in the Cricket World Cup in the West Indies.

"My biggest worry? That we knock over Australia or South Africa and then have to face that final bloody group game against Holland - now that scares the s**t out of me, " he joked.

After 12 years in this country, perhaps it is no surprise that the Queenslander comes up with a particularly Scottish sporting scenario - upsetting the world order only to then face the possibility of being undone by a smaller nation.

However, one joke aside, Scotland's national coach hasn't had the time to think about next spring. There are too many important matches to be played between now and that opening group game against his home country on March 14.

The first two come this week in Bangladesh. The Scottish squad fly out today for their first one-day internationals on foreign soil. On Friday in Chittagong and a week today in Dhaka, the "real stuff" - as Drinnen calls it - begins. Eight weeks of training are over and an extensive competitive programme is ahead.

There is a one-day series against Kenya, an Intercontinental Cup match against the United Arab Emirates, and the World Cricket League in Kenya, a competition which offers the lucrative prize of qualification to the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup for the two finalists.

"We deal in a difficult climate here, in that you don't have your squad together day-in, day-out, " said Drinnen. "So the exciting part for me is we're going to be together for most of the next three months, like a professional outfit. It means the players can devote 100per cent of their energies to the game and I can work with them on a daily basis."

The difficulties of marshalling a largely amateur side were illustrated last weekend at Largs. It was the first time the coach was able to get his entire squad together at one time and in one place. But it was a rewarding experience. Drinnen asked what their immediate ambitions were and the unanimous reply was to win both games in Bangladesh.

"Whenever I ask the team to take the field, there is no second place. We're going out to win every time. But as coach I have to look at it realistically.

We are coming out of the middle of our winter to face opponents who have been playing consistently for several months.

"The aim is ultimately a win, but I'm looking for consistent improvement across all areas because if you consistently improve you will eventually win more than you lose, " the 39-year-old said.

A year ago Drinnen was preparing for his wedding. He was the technical director of Scottish Cricket, having worked his way up the development ladder since first arriving in Scotland as player-coach at Forfarshire. Then Andy Moles, the coach who led the team to World Cup qualification in the summer, left his post amid suggestions some of the senior players had been agitating for a change.

Last January, while sailing in Australian waters on his honeymoon, Drinnen got a phone call asking him if he was interested in taking over. He was not enamoured with either the offer or its timing.

"I got two calls on successive nights while I'm sitting on the back of the boat with a glass of wine in my hand. It is fair to say neither my wife nor I were particularly keen on the idea, " he recalled.

"I'm a very family-orientated person and my wife and family mean more than anything to me. I just didn't want to go back on the road. Also I was happy doing the job I had. As technical director, I was enjoying my work with the next bunch, I felt I was starting to make inroads. I guess I thought maybe the national job might come up further down the track, when I'd developed these players, and then there would have been a little bit of them being 'my players'."

As technical director, Drinnen had pushed for the appointment of a fulltime national coach. At the start of 2006, after lengthy consideration, he accepted the demanding challenge of doing both jobs.

What tempted him in the end?

Possibly the thought this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

"People always find this funny because I'm an Australian, but since I've been in Scotland I've developed quite a passion to coach an associate country. A lot of the roles I've taken in my career have been with underdogs and there is an appeal to that. I guess in cricket, and in life in general, I've wanted to make a difference. And I felt I could make an impact with this job, to do it well and make it better."

During the weekend in Largs, Drinnen dug out an old newspaper cutting to show his players. It dated back to the days when he was understudy to Ian Healy in the Queensland state side, before a back operation curtailed his competitive career and prompted him to explore coaching opportunities.

The clipping detailed the build-up to a match against Pakistan. First Drinnen was out of the squad, then in, then out.

The point he wanted to make was he knew what it was like to be dropped.

Next month 15 players will be officially confirmed for the World Cup in the West Indies, and four of those will miss out in the first match.

"The big thing for me is ensuring everyone feels valued, " he said. "The first people I always shake hands with are the Nos 12, 13, 14 and 15. I thank them for their support because all XV play their part on any given day. You need a tight-knit bunch because it is the team which is No 1."

In three months Scotland will begin their World Cup campaign against the No 1 cricketing nation. But there will be at least one Antipodean who would love nothing more than the underdog to have their day in St Kitts.