The route to full membership of the ICC (International Cricket Council) is a long and complex one as Scotland and other associate nations continue to find to their cost.

One stipulation, however, centres on a thriving women’s game which makes the Scotland under-19s’ imminent participation in the inaugural World Cup for that age group a hugely positive step, both for the team and the game in this country in general.

The young Wildcats are in South Africa ahead of group games against the hosts, India and the United Arab Emirates having booked their place through regional qualifying.

All of the usual major cricketing nations are involved in the 16-team tournament alongside some who are starting to make their mark in the women’s game including the United States, Rwanda and Indonesia.

Given this is the first tournament of its kind for this age group, predictions on just how Scotland might fare are not easy to make. Head coach Peter Ross, who also looks after the women’s team, admits it is very much a journey into the unknown but hopes the squad can make the most of the experience.

“It feels like a major moment for women’s cricket in Scotland,” he said. “There are an awful lot of people who are very proud to have got to this stage as it’s something the senior team has been aspiring to for a very long time.

“It’s good that the under-19s have taken that first step of making it to a major global tournament. Everyone’s really excited and the players are a little bit apprehensive of what to expect. But it will be a really great experience for everyone just to be there and play against some of the best young players in the world.

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“There’s just a big unknown around the whole event. We have absolutely no idea how good many of the other teams will be as it’s the first ever event for this level. And I don’t know how much other countries have invested in their junior female pathways.

“Cricket Scotland, to their credit, have actually done that pretty well over the past few years. So I feel that, from my position in the women’s game, we should actually be in a pretty good position with the squad we’ve got and the skills we’ve developed over the last couple of years.

“We’ve got a few players who have represented the senior team and that has been a really useful experience that they’ve been able to share with the rest of the group.

“Whether we win or lose matches, ultimately if we can replicate the style of cricket that we play I think we can leave really happy with whatever we achieve.”

Scotland took the chance to warm up for the tournament with a pre-Christmas trip to La Manga that allowed them to escape the freezing conditions back home.

“It was nice to get away albeit it was a short and sharp trip,” adds Ross.

“A lot of our training after the season ends is indoors as the weather is too bad. So to get away to Spain and play three proper games of cricket in the sun was really valuable. It allowed us to be a week ahead in our preparations before we came out to South Africa. So we feel that we’re in good shape heading into the tournament.”

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Like most sports, however, development is intertwined with investment and the recent announcement that professional contracts are to be paid to the women’s team for the first time has been welcomed by Ross.

“It’s a conversation we’re still having at Cricket Scotland around how we bring investment into all parts of the game but in particular making sure the women’s and girls’ sections are encouraged to develop as much as possible.

“And hopefully just by being more visible this World Cup will be a great chance for us to showcase what we have and that will encourage more people to invest in our sport. The talent part is never a problem, it’s there and it’s thriving. The key is just to make cricket as accessible to as many people as possible.”