WHEN the Scotland men’s cricket team defeated England for the first time earlier in the summer, perhaps the only people not shocked were the Scots themselves. England, after all, were the top-ranked one-day side in the world and had travelled north to the Grange in Edinburgh with a side rippling with talent and experience. Scotland had never beaten one of the cricketing elite before.

This was an overnight success, however, that had been years in the making. Progress to that point had been incremental, with much of it done behind the scenes. The first significant breakthrough had been a maiden ODI win over Zimbabwe in June 2017 (a victory over Sri Lanka a month earlier wasn’t awarded official status), while the qualifiers for next summer’s slimmed-down World Cup (14 teams reduced to just 10) brought early promise before the agony of just missing out following a rain-shortened match against West Indies.

The England win, then, was the culmination of that steady progress. The trick now is to keep that going into 2019 and beyond.

“When we beat England a lot of people were surprised, but we knew we were going to beat one of those sides at some point,” said Toby Bailey, who has stepped up to become interim head coach following Grant Bradburn’s recent departure to join the Pakistan coaching staff after four years at the Scotland helm.

“It had been a process of getting everything right around the side, getting the tactics right, getting the best preparations – it didn’t just happen overnight. It was about years of improvements behind the scenes, the things people don’t see, and that all came to fruition on that day. Going forward, we want to beat those sides again. And there’s no reason why we can’t do that.”

Bailey, who has temporarily stepped away from his role as national performance coach, takes a squad to La Manga on Saturday for a winter training programme that will include a first match against a Spain XI, and the chance to work with a number of specialist coaches including a baseball coach who will help with power hitting.

Their plans for 2019 remain unconfirmed but, with the world’s best teams coming to the UK for the World Cup, they will likely not be short of offers to provide opposition before and after the event. For Bailey, the former Northants wicket-keeper, the challenge will be ensuring the side is in the best shape to cope with “a very full fixture list”.

“It’s about skill development for us now and there are four areas in particular we want to look at,” he revealed. “One is leadership, two is playing against spin, three is variations of bowling skills, and the fourth is power hitting. If we can get those four things right that will take us the next level.

“The skill level among the group is exceptionally high and we have a good programme in place, so the next thing is to develop the leadership within the team so that they can make those “critical moment” decisions. But there is belief in this side, not just that they can compete against the best but that they can beat them.”

Bailey, who also has an entry as head coach of the Argentina national side on a varied CV, speaks regularly with Bradburn and hopes to build on the legacy the New Zealander has left behind.

“I’m still in touch with Grant and he’s having a great time with Pakistan. He worked with this Scotland team for a long time and we need to use his advice as much as we can. Thankfully the transition isn’t that hard as he’s left us in a good place.”

Scotland remain in place to be the next Associate nation to be granted full member status from the ICC and with it the prospect of Test cricket.

“We want to be the next full member nation, there’s no doubt about that,” added Bailey. “That’s the whole objective of the organisation. It’s not going to be in the next year or so but that’s our long-term goal.”