WHERE once Oman was a sorrowful cry offered up as Scottish wickets tumbled with disheartening regularity, now it will provide the setting for what those of a Caledonian persuasion hope will be a continued climb through the cricketing charts.

Scotland head to the Arabian Peninsula this week in optimistic fettle for their first competitive action of the year, buoyed by last year’s breakthrough ODI win over England and a valiant, if ultimately unsuccessful, World Cup qualifying campaign.

They will open 2019 with a T20I Quadrangular Series in Muscat against Ireland, the Netherlands, and their hosts, while also fitting in a three-match 50-over series against Oman.

Scotland are ranked 11th in the world in the shortest version of the sport, and enter into this series with this year's T20 World Cup Qualifier in the back of their minds.

They spent a training camp in La Manga developing key aspects of their game such as power hitting, playing spin, and demonstrating leadership, and acting head coach Toby Bailey hoped all of those would come to the fore in Oman.

“This is an opportunity for us to put into practise some of the skills we’ve been working on over the winter,” said Bailey.

“We don’t get a lot of chance to play competitive T20 games against international opposition and this might be the final chance we get to do that before the World Cup qualifier later in the year.

“Every time we play against Ireland it’s a big game. They’re a Test nation now but we’re ranked higher than them in T20 so it should be an interesting contest. In previous encounters against Ireland we’ve not always done ourselves justice so that’s something we’ll be looking to address.”

The inclusion of Chris Greaves – one of two new faces in the squad alongside Gloucestershire’s Adrian Neill – should also provide Scotland with another string to their bow. The Caledonian Highlanders all-rounder has spent the winter working on his leg spin with the Pakistan squad, a form of attack that Bailey felt was vital in the T20 game.

“We’ve been looking to develop the leg spin aspect of our game since the start of last summer,” he said. “And in T20 leg spin is crucial. Chris has been in South Africa working with the Pakistan team thanks to [former Scotland head coach] Grant Bradburn, and has been working on some variations that could make a difference.

“At club level in Scotland it’s traditionally been off spin or a left-arm spin used to contain the batsmen rather than take wickets. But T20 is a different beast as you need to take wickets. Even the poorer balls that a leg spinner bowls tend to go square of the wicket so they are harder to hit for boundaries. So we’re hopeful of seeing good things from Chris on this tour.”

The three 50-over matches against Oman will give Scotland additional practise in the longer version of the game ahead of some appetising home fixtures in May.

“We haven’t played a lot of 50-over cricket of late so it will be important to get some game time under our belts so the lads are ready to take on Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the summer," Bailey said. “Those are big games for us, playing against full members at home.”

This will be Bailey’s last stint in temporary charge of the team having willingly bridged the gap between Bradburn’s departure to join Pakistan and the arrival next month of South African Shane Burger. Bailey admits he would have liked the chance to have continued in the role but instead will oversee one final tour before returning to his previous post as national performance coach.

“I’ve spoken to Shane and my job will be to hand over the team in good condition to him so he can take them forward in the summer,” he said. “He’s got a lot of experience and I’m sure he’ll bring some new ideas to the team.

“I’ve loved being in temporary charge and would perhaps have liked [to have continued] but I’m sure Shane will do a fantastic job. It’s up to all of us at Cricket Scotland to support him in whatever way we can.”