Cricket World Cup: A Scotland game win would 'create history'

By Kenny CrawfordBBC Sport Scotland
Majid Haq (left) is Scotland's most capped player
Majid Haq (left) is Scotland's most capped player
Cricket World Cup 2015
Date: 13 February - 29 March Hosts: Australia and New Zealand
BBC coverage: Live radio and text commentary on every match on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra & BBC Sport website, plus desktop, tablets, mobiles and app

Majid Haq and Matt Machan seem poles apart.

Haq celebrates his 32nd birthday on Wednesday and is the oldest and most capped player in Scotland's team.

Machan, who turns 24 on Sunday, is the third youngest in Grant Bradburn's national side at the 2015 World Cup.

Haq was born and bred in Paisley by Pakistani parents, obtaining an honours degree in accountancy from the town's university.

Machan entered this world at one of the most southerly points of England and has lived in the Brighton area all his life.

Haq has never played English county cricket despite a brief trial period with Warwickshire in 2008.

Machan is already steeped in England's domestic scene, having played at Sussex since 2010.

Haq's reputation has been built on solid bowling, while Machan increasingly shows he has a way with the bat.

But, when cricket's showpiece in Australia and New Zealand starts on Friday, Haq and Machan will unquestionably have the same, identical goal.

Machan told BBC Scotland: "Winning one game will be creating history.

Matt Machan hit 86 against a strong New Zealand XI in October
Matt Machan hit 86 against a strong New Zealand XI in October

"Whether we can go further than that, you never know. We've done quite well in the associate world for the last six to 18 months.

"It's a real chance to put ourselves on the world stage and try and become a side like Ireland and Afghanistan have over the last four or five years."

Machan, who is eligible to play for Scotland because of his Glasgow-born mother, highlights the aim each squad member and Scotland fan has probably expressed tens of times over recent months.

Despite Scotland's presence at the 1999 and 2007 World Cup tournaments, all they experienced were defeats, so a single victory this time around would represent decent progress.

In Pool A with them are New Zealand, England, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Australia.

Six opportunities. And Haq said: "We're very confident against every team.

"A lot of the guys are playing at a high level down south. It's quite a young squad, but a lot of the young guys have already played a lot of cricket.

Scotland's World Cup fixtures
17 FebNew ZealandDunedin (NZ)
23 FebEnglandChristchurch (NZ)
26 FebAfghanistanDunedin (NZ)
5 MarchBangladeshNelson (NZ)
11 MarchSri LankaHobart (Aus)
14 MarchAustraliaHobart (Aus)

"They're mature as players, so I think it's time to show the world how good the Scotland cricket team is.

"There's no reason why we can't get points on the board in the first game against New Zealand. A lot of pressure is going to be on them."

Haq is partly referring to New Zealand being co-hosts, but something else too.

In October, Scotland performed admirably against a strong New Zealand XI, losing by a solitary run when really, had it not been for a couple of misfields, victory was in their grasp.

The highlight of that contest for Haq was ending the Kiwi captain's spell at the crease.

"It would be nice to get Brendan McCullum again," said Haq, who has also dismissed ex-England skippers Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss in his career.

"He's very tough to bowl at and one of their best batsmen. I need one more wicket to become the highest wicket taker, so hopefully it can happen pretty soon.

"It's important for me as a senior player, and as someone who's been there and played for a long time, to take the lead role when it comes to the matches."

Machan hopes the fact he posted an excellent 86 in that autumn contest versus New Zealand will give the hosts the jitters at Dunedin's University Oval.

"I think it will play some part," said Machan, a former England Under-18 team-mate of England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.

"I know it's already sold out. I've got friends in Dunedin and they say the build-up for the World Cup and Scotland coming over to Dunedin is incredible.

"We'll have a lot of home support over there, so it will be an interesting game and one we can definitely challenge to try to win."

Scotland spinner Majid Haq
Majid Haq needs one more wicket to become Scotland's highest wicket-taker

When that opening match is done and dusted, there is no respite for the Scots.

Next up is a face-off with England in Christchurch on 22 February in what will be an interesting occasion for Machan, who may have Sussex team-mate Chris Jordan as an opponent.

"I play against a lot of the guys on the county scene and know quite a few of them from growing up," he said.

"It's going to be a nice experience and to see where you are in comparison to them. Anything can happen."

Key to Scotland's chances against the English could be having one of their own in the camp.

Former England limited-overs skipper Paul Collingwood has been drafted in as a specialist coach for the Scots. Collingwood's former Test captain Michael Vaughan has already commented that current England coach Peter Moores should have enlisted the Durham all-rounder's help.

"It's always good to have Collingwood with us," said Haq. "I'm sure he'll know most of the English guys.

"With England, you know what you're going to get. They're all top-class players and they perform when it comes to the big tournaments. They will be targeting the semi-finals."

Perhaps the subsequent two matches, against Afghanistan and Bangladesh, will be the crucial contests in Scotland acquiring the one World Cup win they crave.

While Machan agrees that double-header could "define their tournament", he is reluctant to put a lid on their aspirations.

"You never know what's going to happen in fixtures, with a 'no result' or another associate team winning a game, so we might find ourselves in the mix," he said.

Wait a minute, Scotland qualifying for the latter stages?

"I've thought about it," he added.