BEING installed as favourites brings an unaccustomed pressure on Scotland’s cricketers but head coach Shane Burger wants his players

to thrive on it rather than shrink away.

Traditionally filling the role of plucky underdogs against full member giants such as England, Australia or India, the Scots head to the UAE this week for the T20 World Cup qualifier as the No.1 seeds.

That switch of mindset brings its own challenges but South African Burger wants his players to show they deserve their place at next year’s T20 Finals in Australia.

To achieve that they need only be one of the top six finishers in a 14-team tournament of mostly fellow Associate nations – in their group they face the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Kenya, Singapore and Bermuda – but their coach believes the target should be to emerge victorious overall.

“We’ve set our sights on doing really well in this tournament,” said Burger. “Anything less than winning it would be deemed to be below the standards we’re setting for ourselves. That’s something we’ve drilled in to the players.

“But I don’t have to say too much as the group we have with us put that expectation on themselves. I don’t have to push it too much as they know they should be going to a tournament like this and winning it.

“Given what the team have done over the last few years there is now an expectation that a Scottish team won’t just compete but will win. There will be a bit of extra pressure as the highest-ranked team in the tournament to do well. But we will have to play good cricket and stay on top of our game if we are to achieve that.”

Scotland are ranked 12th in the world at T20 – ahead of full members Ireland and Zimbabwe – and Burger believes he has put together a squad that can thrive in the shortest version of the sport.

“I think the T20 format is our strongest cricket at the moment,” he added. “We’re doing nicely in 50-over cricket but T20 is where we can really put a marker on things, especially with the power hitting we’ve got in our side.

“We can bat deep into the line-up and for me that’s exciting. We’ve got guys who can come in at 7, 8 or 9 who can still clear the boundaries and make late runs for us.

“We’ve got 15 players who can all be potential match-winners in our squad and we’ve got a real spread of skill sets.

“It’s a happy squad at the moment. There’s a nice blend of youth and experience, seamers and spinners, power hitters and guys who can rotate the strike well. So we feel that we’ve got all bases covered for whatever conditions and situations are presented to us.”

Cricket Scotland’s long-term goal is to be the next cab off the rank welcomed into full membership of the ICC [International Cricket Council]. That would guarantee them regular games against the major nations and reaching the World Cup would be a major step in making that a reality.

“If we want to become a full member we have to be playing against the leading nations more often,” admitted Burger. “We’ve shown previously we can beat full member sides and we need to continue to do that.

“A tournament like this gives us another chance to prove to the cricketing world that we’re not just here to compete but we’re here to stay.

“We have got some really good players in the squad who might not still be playing by the time Scotland becomes a full member but who want to help deliver that legacy.”