Scotland’s Majid Haq has declared that his country needs to set their sights higher in the future, instead of being satisfied with occasional victories against English counties and international rivals.
The Clydesdale spinner, who was the most successful bowler at the recent World T20 qualifying tournament in Dubai, but whose efforts were not sufficient to secure a qualifying place for Pete Steindl’s side, also stated that Ireland, who surged to victory over their ICC Associate and Affiliate rivals, were benefiting from having greater experience in their ranks, and listed five of his compatriots who, for one reason or another, have not made the anticipated progress expected of them a decade ago.
“I am not saying we haven’t been ambitious in the past, but we have had enough experience of playing the counties, so perhaps we need to raise the bar a bit and be aiming to qualify from our group into the latter stages [of the CB40 competition], because we have shown in the past that we can compete with these sides, so it’s time that we found the consistency to beat them on a regular basis,” stated Haq, who admitted that the Scots’ recent trip to Sharjah, Sri Lanka and Dubai could not considered a success.
“We had three goals when we went out there: to defeat the UAE in the Intercontinental Cup, which we did, and to follow that up by winning the two World Cricket League matches [against the UAE] and reaching the finals of the World T20. We didn’t manage the last two, so finishing with one out of three has to be viewed as a failure. Two out of three would have been different, but our bowling let us down as the tour continued. Yes, we suffered with injuries, but I don’t think we should look to that as an excuse.
“One of the major differences between the Irish and ourselves is that they have players such as William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin, Kevin O’Brien and others, who are in the 25-28 age bracket, and who have been developing their game on the English county circuit. By comparison, Scotland have plenty of talented youngsters and a few older players, such as myself and Kyle , but there are very few in their mid-to-late 20s and I can think of at least five players – Ross Lyons, Moneeb Iqbal, Navdeep Singh Poonia, Qasim Sheikh and Omer Hussain - who, for one reason or another, have slipped out of the picture with Scotland, yet have shown they have the talent to do well at the top.
“Spin bowling is one of the obvious areas where we don’t have much depth. But I believe that Ross and Moneeb can both succeed at international level, so we have to get these sort of guys back involved with the national squad. We also have to try and arrange more inter-district games, where the best are meeting the best. I’m still optimistic that we have a lot of exciting youngsters coming through the system, but the only way for us to make an impression on the ICC is to take whatever chances come our way. We haven’t done that, and both the WCL losses and the overall T20 results were disappointing.”
Haq has always been one of the most candid and honest performers in the Scotland camp and his words are timely, lest anybody should attempt to portray the fifth place in the T20 qualifier as an acceptable outcome.
On the contrary, and where once the Scots had marched ahead of their Celtic rivals, the balance has now shifted emphatically in the other direction. The only way to buck that trend is for the Scots to be more professional in their approach.
And that is about a state of mind, not a pay packet.