MEMORIES of the past, good and bad, will flood through Richie Berrington’s mind as his plane soars south across the Equator next week. First stop for the Scotland cricket captain and his team-mates will be Pretoria, the city where Berrington was born and spent his formative years before moving to the UK with his family aged 11.  

The Scots will tune up there for the forthcoming World Cup qualifier with a training camp and friendly matches against the Netherlands and Nepal, while also giving Berrington an opportunity to bond with places, family and friends from the past.

“I’ve still got a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins out there so there’s still that connection,” he reveals. “For me personally it’s a special place to go back to having been brought up there. I’m looking forward to going back. I had a lot of good memories from growing up there.”

The real action, though, will take place across the border in Zimbabwe where Berrington and a few of the more established members of the Saltires squad will find it unavoidable not to cast their minds back to what unfolded there in 2018. On the cusp of beating the odds to claim one of only two places available at the 2019 50-over World Cup, Scotland were undone by a catastrophic mix of terrible weather, poor officiating and insufficient technology to exit in the cruellest fashion.

Berrington was at the heart of that sorry story, wrongly given out lbw and with no DRS [Decision Review System] in place, Scotland had no scope for appeal. That single wicket in a rain-shortened game was enough to send West Indies to the finals in England in Scotland’s place.

The ICC [International Cricket Council] in their wisdom have again decided not to deploy the full array of technology available in the group stages, diminishing their own tournament in the process. (A suggestion they may bring it in but only for the Super Sixes is yet to be confirmed). Berrington is just hoping the same failings don’t return this time around as Scotland look to book their place at this autumn’s World Cup in India. And if they do, he hopes any errors go for them this time around.

“At the time it was heart-breaking,” admits Berrington of that 2018 nightmare. “To get that close but not quite get over the line was tough to take. Those things are out of our control in terms of the DRS stuff. That’s a decision for the ICC to make.

“It would have been great to have had it in place for such an important tournament, especially not having had it the last time. But at the end of the day all the teams are playing under the same conditions. We just have to crack on and hope it doesn’t come down to any decisions like that. And, if it does, it goes in our favour for once. That would be nice.”

The odds are again stacked against Scotland in this the last of the 10-team 50-over World Cups before the ICC, mercifully, restore it to 14 nations for the 2027 edition. Up against Test-playing nations of the calibre of Sri Lanka and the West Indies, it will be a tough battle to claim one of the two spots available, but Berrington is not without hope.

“It’s a great opportunity we have coming up,” adds the 36 year-old. “We know it’s going to be a tough tournament but we’re looking forward to that challenge. We believe if we go out there and play our best cricket we’ll be able to compete for one of those two spots. To play at a World Cup in India – it doesn’t really get much better than that. So we’ll give everything to try to make that a reality. Seeing how close we were that last time gives us a lot of belief that we can compete.”

This is a new-look Scotland in many ways, Berrington now one of the senior figures of a squad shorn of recent retirees Calum MacLeod and Kyle Coetzer and led by an interim head coach in Doug Watson.

Denied the services of county players such as Josh Davey and Michael Jones, the squad has been bolstered by a number of younger talents who cover their shortfall in experience with abundant enthusiasm.

“We’ve still got a few experienced guys in the squad who've played in these qualifiers before,” he adds. “For me it’s also exciting to see some younger players coming in as well, boys who have come in over the last 12 months, performed well and look like they’re improving all the time. It will be exciting to see how they go as well.”