THE Scottish domestic cricket scene is the very epitome of optimism over experience. It takes the most positive of mindsets to schedule a raft of fixtures for a game that requires dry, benign conditions in a country where wind and rain are the default weather conditions. There are few as hardy as the Scottish cricketer who during particularly squally afternoons can find themselves in then out more times than a particularly vigorous round of the Hokey Cokey. On the days when the sun does break through then the temptation to drop everything, grab a bat and ball and go and have a hit must be hugely appealing indeed. You just never know when another suitable chance might present itself.

Meteorological imponderables, however, have never deterred those willing and able. And so, weather permitting, the elite of Scottish club cricket will congregate at The Grange in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh this afternoon for the clash between the Eastern Knights and the Western Warriors, the first match of the reformed and expanded Pro League series that also includes northern representation from the Caledonian Highlanders.

It will provide familiar surrounds for John Blain, a man set to wear more hats this season than Lady Gaga during a three-hour live performance. The 37-year-old has been appointed as head coach of the Knights, responsible for selecting the cream of east of Scotland cricket for six one-day internationals and six T20 games against their western and northern counterparts. He will also continue in his various roles with Grange, the defending national champions, with whom he will serve as director of cricket, coach, and player. On top of that he also coaches cricket at the prestigious Loretto School outside of Edinburgh, while there are rumours he could soon also be adding a coaching role with the Scotland national team to his already bulging CV.

That latter role, if true, would represent further evidence that bridges have been rebuilt between Cricket Scotland and the former Northants and Yorkshire bowler. The pair have endured something of a rocky relationship since Blain’s decision to walk out on the Scotland squad on the eve of the T20 World Cup in 2009 but, having made a peace offering a few years ago, Blain hopes the past is now firmly in the past.

“[Working with the Knights] is the first time I’ve been involved with Scotland at any level since 2009 when I had my problems,” he said. “But I offered the olive branch a few years ago and it’s been taken now. In that time I’ve learned a lot and maybe it will be the start of something for me in my career.

“I’m looking forward to coaching the Knights. Historically that region has been the strongest [in the country] and we’ll have the Scotland captain in Preston Mommsen, Alasdair Evans, and Mark Watt, guys of that calibre. So we should be a strong team but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that I’ll be expecting us to play cricket in a certain manner.

“I would expect the eastern dominance will go on. There’s more cricket played through here and so we seem to have a greater volume of cricketers coming through. But over the past few years the teams in the west have used that talent pool more efficiently and are getting the right guys through. If you look at their team for this first game they’ve got some youngsters involved which is good to see. From what I’ve seen in the east after being back for the past few years they’ve had greater numbers but not brought boys through as well as they ought to have. So I see it as part of my role to change that.”

Blain’s primary focus, however, will remain on Grange. The grand final champions – they defeated Clydesdale last September to extend the Eastern Premier’s unbeaten record in the annual showpiece event against the winners of the Western Union – will be expected to defend their title, with the signing of Mommsen, fresh from captaining Scotland at the T20 World Cup in India, another sign of their intent. Blain’s vision for the club, however, extends further than just the next few months.

“We started up our academy in the winter and cherry-picked the best 23 kids from across the youth section of the club with a view to getting them through to senior cricket. So you might see some new faces and younger faces making their way into the first team this season which is a good thing because we want to build for the next generation of guys coming through. It was inevitable that this had to happen at some point. Guys like George Munsey and Tom Sole have gone down to Northants and at clubs like Grange if you’re doing your job properly then you won’t have kids around the club for too long as they should be moving down south. So you have to be ready for that.”

The new Tri-Series – all 12 games – are scheduled to be completed by early July although Blain admitted that may well be dependent on the weather.

“You can never play enough cricket in Scotland,” he added. “I always think we’re a bit undercooked. You always need to get as many dates in the diary as you can as you always get a couple rained off. So it’s a condensed fixture list but it’s a good amount of games.”