CricInfo at World Cup 1999
[The ICC Cricket World Cup - England 1999]

Australia v Scotland Preview, 16 May 1999

by John Polack

Whilst it will probably not be the best fixture in this 1999 World Cup, the Group B match between Australia and Scotland at Worcester on Sunday May 16 will nevertheless be a game of many cricketing novelties. Quite apart from being the two teams' opening performances in this tournament, it will represent Scotland's debut appearance in top flight international cricketing competition and therefore will naturally serve as the first ever meeting between the two countries at this level. It will also be only the second time that the delightful New Road ground will ever have played host to a contest between two international teams - an eight wicket West Indian win over Zimbabwe in June 1983 the only one-day international that has previously been played at the venue.

In that sense, there is much to anticipate. However, it must also be stressed that a comfortable Australian win is the overwhelmingly expected outcome. With a status which precedes them as one of the favourites to win this event, the Australians will indeed be looking to make light work of this game and to find form immediately before the more challenging clashes with New Zealand and Pakistan which loom in the days ahead. Of most pressing interest to them will be the opportunity to take advantage of the chance this match appears to offer for their batsmen to gain early confidence and for some of their lesser-known bowlers (among them the likes of Adam Dale, Brendon Julian and Shane Lee) to begin to familiarise themselves with bowling the tight line and length demanded in English conditions.

For their part, the Scots' hopes of performing competitively will hinge largely on the extent to which they are able to overcome the stifling sense of pressure and stagefright which they will almost certainly experience throughout the match. Captain George Salmond and Ian Philip will be the men to whom they look for batting inspiration while Gavin Hamilton, John Blain and Lahore-based Asim Butt will assume most of the responsibility at the bowling crease. Hopefully, the assignment will not prove as daunting as most followers rightfully expect it to be, and it unveils a Scottish lineup which is willing to inject into this tournament the same level of enthusiasm and confidence which underpinned their effort in clinching their World Cup berth through the ICC Trophy series in Malaysia a little over two years ago.

Given their exalted reputation at present (not to mention the complete void in international experience which will plague their opponents), it would scarcely be reasonable to predict that Australia will lose this match. Nevertheless, it should be said that the haunting vision of the country's humiliating loss to Zimbabwe (in those days a non-Test playing nation just as Scotland is at this moment in its development) on the last occasion on which the tournament was played in England will probably always command at least some place in the Australian cricketing psyche. Memories, too, of Kenya's astonishing win over West Indies during the last World Cup must also add fuel to the notion that Australia can not afford to take the clash lightly in any respect.


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