Drinnen Rather Hopeful
Peter Drinnen's sole request of his Scotland hopefuls is that they at least play up to their ability when they meet Australia.
Peter Drinnen's sole request of his Scotland hopefuls is that they at least play up to their ability when they meet World Cup favourites Australia tomorrow.
Many are predicting a mis-match between the three-time winners and the minnows, coached by Australian Drinnen.
He is wary of making bold predictions, advising sensible expectations – but he nonetheless believes Scotland have the wherewithal to compete with one of the best teams on the planet.
"Obviously it is going to be an incredible challenge for us – there is no doubt about that – and we've got to be realistic about it," he said.
"We're not going to stand here and say we can blow Australia out of the water.
"All we're concerned about is to reach the standards we have set at times over the last five or six weeks."
Drinnen's team had an encouraging winter in Nairobi – where they reached the final of the World Cricket League – but failed to consolidate in two disappointing warm-up defeats in Barbados last week.
In the hope they up their game when they need to most, Drinnen is telling his team to keep their minds on their own performance – not those of their mighty opponents.
"We will be concentrating on what we do, rather than them," he said.
"If that's good enough, fantastic; if it's not, so be it. But it is very, very important we reach the standards we demand of ourselves."
Scotland's batting failed twice last week, but Drinnen believes it is improving – largely because of the opportunity for regular practice since the players turned temporarily full-time at the start of this year.
"Our batting has struggled for consistency, and that has been primarily because it is hard for a team to prepare as they need to when they don't get together very often," he explains.
"In Nairobi we were able to do that, and I think it was no coincidence that we put together four or five really good totals.
"That was a big step forward for us, and we're hoping we can continue on that."
Among the players Drinnen will be relying on is Gavin Hamilton, one of two 2007 survivors from Scotland's last match against Australia – in the 1999 World Cup at Worcester, where they put up a respectable performance in a six-wicket defeat.
An all-rounder then, Hamilton is now almost exclusively a middle-order batsman.
Drinnen has no doubt the former Yorkshire and England player is up for his second crack at Australia.
"Gav is in a great frame of mind at the moment," he said.
"He's really committed and he's trained really hard over the last six to eight months.
"He sets the examples, and it's no coincidence that he's performed well over the last five to six weeks, solid throughout.
"He threatens with the big one; he's got the skills and capabilities."
Hamilton is not alone, though, in carrying Drinnen's hopes. "There are batters there who can do a job for us – Fraser Watts, Majid Haq, Navdeep Poonia and others – but we need it to come right on the day," he said.
"We don't encounter these level of attacks day in day out, so our batsmen have to work hard every ball. That's the real challenge.
"The bad balls don't present themselves very often. It's what we do with the good balls that matters – try and discover a run."
As for his own opportunity to pit his wits against his native country, former Queensland batsman Drinnen is equivocal.
"It's great to be playing Australia tomorrow," he acknowledges.
"But we're playing in a World Cup in the Caribbean. It's an incredible privilege to be here. "We're really looking forward to it and hope to put in some solid performances to show these guys are really good cricketers."
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