THE crowds will be a fraction of the size and the atmosphere will be somewhat less frenzied but Kathryn Bryce approaches her next cricket challenge with the same enthusiasm as the one that just preceded it.

Bryce ticked off a major item on her bucket list earlier this year when she got to experience competitive action in the cricketing hotbed that is India. As the only player from an Associate nation drafted to play in the latest edition of the Women’s Premier League, the Scotland captain turned out eight times for the Gujarat Giants, accumulating 83 runs and taking four wickets along the way. Little surprise that the all-rounder reflects fondly on the experience and hopes that it won’t be a one-off.

“I had a great time over there – a completely different experience with the fans and the playing conditions,” said the 26-year-old. “It was nice learning off different people, with a lot of new faces at a different tournament.

“It’s absolutely crazy the way the crowds get out there to support their players. It was different level to anything I had experienced before. Hopefully me being there also helped raise the profile of Scottish cricket as a whole.

“One of the reasons for being there was to help increase the visibility of Associate-level players when you can show you’re able to compete on that stage. It hopefully helps open people up to that world a little bit more. They’ll then start following Scottish cricket more because of me and can then find other Scottish players off the back of it and find that same enthusiasm for our game. I’d love to go back and experience it all again if I can.”

Bryce now brings that knowledge onto the international stage. Scotland are in the UAE preparing for a series of matches that will conclude, ideally, with the Wildcats reaching a T20 World Cup for the first time in their history.

Their prospects of doing so have been bolstered by an extended warm-up that begins tomorrow with a pair of one-day internationals against Papua New Guinea and the USA and then a glut of T20 friendlies before the Qualifier gets underway on April 25.

A lack of appropriate preparation has often hindered Scotland squads in the past - both male and female - but the hope is that this fortnight to adjust to the conditions and get back into the swing of things after a long period of inactivity will serve Craig Wallace’s side well.

“I think it’s going to be really important to have this extra time together,” added Bryce. “We’ve had mini-series before events in the past but it’s often been in different locations and quite a bit before the tournament.

“It’s brilliant then to have everyone in the same place and playing cricket together. It’s probably among the best prepared we’ve ever been heading into a global qualifier. Getting that extra match practice in will be really important and it’s great to ease our way in with a couple of 50-over games.

“There aren’t many players who are full-time so to take a month off work or other commitments is usually quite challenging so it’s great having everyone together this time.”

Reaching the World Cup, though, won’t be easy, with 10 sides competing for just two places at the finals that take place in Bangladesh in the autumn. Scotland are in a group of five alongside Sri Lanka and Thailand, who are both listed higher than them in the world ranking, so even making the semi-finals will required them to once more punch above their weight.

“If you look at the rankings we’re ranked outside the top four [expected] to get to the semi-finals so we’ll probably have to beat Thailand just to get to that stage,” confirmed Bryce. “We’ve played against them before and the last couple of times it’s been pretty even matches.

“There’s definitely an opportunity there for us to reach the semi-final and give ourselves an opportunity to win one more game after that to reach the World Cup. We’ve shown in the last couple of years that we’re good enough to be at that top stage. In the past it was almost like we had to play the perfect game of cricket to get through. Now that we know we can beat these teams we can go in there with that confidence.”