EVEN at the age of 32 and with more than 120 international appearances to his name, Calum MacLeod is still learning about his specialist subject of cricket.

The Glasgow-born Highlander views forthcoming matches in the Super 12 phase both as an opportunity to enhance Scotland’s reputation on the global stage but also as a chance for him to get a close-up view of some of the world’s leading batters in action.

Naturally, MacLeod hopes that their time at the crease is as a short one but the counties veteran believes that any chance to study the superstars of the sport is one that should be taken.

It is Afghanistan first up for the Scots in Sharjah today, before matches against Namibia and then the three giants of New Zealand, India and Pakistan, with MacLeod almost giddy with anticipation at the prospect of what lies ahead over the next fortnight.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “I’ve never played India and I just want to go and see how good they are and see if our skills match up to theirs -  make it a challenge for them as much as it will be for us.

“And the other two teams [New Zealand and Pakistan] are world class in their own right with players that we look up to.

“All three have got batters that I sit down to watch and try to learn from - Kane Williamson, Babar Azam and Virat Kohli. To get to see them up close, and maybe see if I can learn something from how they go about it, will be a great opportunity alongside trying to beat them.

“Even now I still like to study other batters to see how they do things. I was watching Kyle [Coetzer, Scotland captain] last week and his style of batting, asking him how he does it.

“That’s the way I’ve always tried to learn. I watch guys bat then go into the nets and see if I can do it too. Sometimes it works, other times it’s not as successful.

“If it’s not my method I can at least say I tried it and can then forget about it. But every time you get up close to see guys like this in the flesh and how they go about it, it’s a chance to learn something.”

It is Afghanistan’s dangerous spin attack that will occupy MacLeod’s thoughts today, as Scotland look to build on last week’s wins over Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Oman.

“It will be a challenge against all their spinners,” he added. “Everyone understands the attack Afghanistan have got with three world-class spinners. You have to put pressure back on them; like all top-class teams, if you let the bowlers just bowl at you, their skills will just be too good over a period.

“You have to find a method of putting the pressure back on them, whether that’s sweeping or coming down the wicket. You’ve got to stick to it and be pretty disciplined to go with it.

“There’s a lot of excitement there and we want to enjoy this opportunity to go out and play some of the biggest countries in the world. And we want to go out there to try to beat them and show what we can do. There are games there we can win and that’s what the aim will be in all of them.”

Scotland lost to Afghanistan in both the 2015 and 2016 World Cups but MacLeod is hoping for a different outcome this time.

“The 50-over one in 2105, in particular, I still think about as a great opportunity to get our first ever World Cup win. That’s a regret. Coming up against them again in Sharjah is going to bring real challenges as we know what they possess.

“But it’s not something we’re frightened about or unduly worried about. We’re just excited to go out there and take them on. We want to show that we’re just as capable as them.

“It’s one thing knowing or believing as a squad you’re capable of beating full member sides. We’ve always believed that.

“But actually doing it on the world stage, and getting that win early against Bangladesh, set up the tournament nicely for us.

“That led into Papua New Guinea and then the decider against Oman which was a real banana skin as they’re a side with real potential.

“But we just went in and did all the basics right and showed our skills at a higher level than they did. That’s what we’ll try to do in the rest of our games, just bring that level of consistency.

“We’re always crying out for more games to keep pushing our case and now we’ve got five brilliant games on the world stage to show how far this team can go. We hope with the right results it could push us even further.”