HAVING deliberately played down his team’s chances of causing an upset last year, Mark Coles is opting for the same tactic once again.

His Scotland women’s cricket team enter the Commonwealth Games qualifier in Malaysia not widely expected to claim the solitary available remaining spot at this summer’s jamboree in Birmingham from a group including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the hosts and Kenya.

It was a similar story at the T20 World Cup Europe qualifier in August, however, when head coach Coles insisted the Wildcats would be the underdogs against a full-member side in Ireland shortly before Scotland beat them by five wickets and topped their group with four straight wins. The world qualifier for that one, incidentally, is pencilled in for later this year.

It may well be that this tournament proves a step too far for a young Scotland squad given the strength of some of their opponents, the humid conditions, plus the fact they have had to quarantine in their hotel rooms for a week after arriving in Kuala Lumpur.

But Coles hopes it will serve as another learning experience in the squad’s overall journey, regardless of the eventual outcome.

“I was glad we got out here before all the other teams so that, after the quarantine, we could get out and get acclimatised to the weather and pitch conditions,” said the New Zealander.

“I always think it’s important to be well prepared so you can focus then on just being the best you can be and not really worry too much about what other teams are doing.

“Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, one of those teams is expected to win, which puts a bit more pressure on them and allows us just to go out and play our own game

“T20 cricket changes so quickly and we have players who can take the game away from the opposition given half a chance.

“We just have to make sure we’re really clear on our roles and our plan and then go out and execute it. I know the players I’ve got will never give up and that’s all you can ask.

“The more we play against teams like these, the better we will become. It’s a really important move from Cricket Scotland to try to get us playing against as many teams as possible who are ahead of us in the rankings.

“We’re going to find out very shortly where we fit in the grand scheme of things. I know from my days coaching in Pakistan how Sri Lanka and Bangladesh like to play and I don’t think we’re a million miles away from that.

“And we’re not discounting Kenya or Malaysia either who will offer different challenges, just as we saw with Germany and France last summer.”

There is only one new face in the squad, Rachel Slater, a medium-pace bowler who plays for Northern Diamonds.

And while Coles is happy to have the 20 year-old join the group he is also pleased to see some consistency in his squad selection, allowing bonds to develop and give the players a sense of security.

“I believe it’s really important that, while we’re always wanting to create competition from within a fairly small group, you still want to give the players the chance to be able to fail.

“They need the confidence to know that if they mess up in one game they’re not going to get dropped. There will always be another opportunity or two for them to perform and show what they can do.

“But it’s also good to have Rachel on board with us. She offers something different as a left-arm seamer and from what I’ve seen she’s a very determined young lady who’s making her way in professional cricket. And that experience can help with the younger ones.”

This is the first time T20 cricket has been included in the Commonwealth Games, with the women being given the chance to pioneer it ahead of the men. Hosts England, Australia and India are among those already qualified for Birmingham and Coles hopes Scotland could yet join them.

He added: “I think this is wonderful for women’s cricket across the board. It’s another competition that teams can strive for and it will create surprises, no doubt about that.

“There will be teams in the future who will get into the Commonwealth Games and you’ll think, ‘how cool is that?’ And I’d love that to be us.

“We’ve got an opportunity right now to try to compete at a Games right on our doorstep this summer and what a wonderful experience that would be if we could make it.”