Two weeks of weather-induced futility were ended on Thursday when the Saltires defeated Canada in a one-day international to salvage something from the tourists’ visit here. It was a boost to the hosts’ ambitions for World Cup qualification. It provides, Majid Haq declares, an opportunity to grab some momentum headed into the next batch of matches against the English counties.
Somerset sit winless at the bottom of the group, with the Saltires just a solitary victory better off. That’s a familiar position for the Scots, of course. But not one for which the spinner from Paisley has acquired any tolerance over the years. The perception of the team as plucky outsiders lingers but it fails to match reality, Haq says. However, the onus is on the players to make failure a thing of the past.
“We still have to put the complete game together,” says Haq, who made his international bow in 2004, while many of his team-mates were just entering their teens. “I’m not sure what the reasons are but that is something we should now be able to do. The guys aren’t all 21 any more. The average age is around 24 or 25 now. They’ve all been playing for a few years. And really now, it’s time people put a consistent run together.”
Scotland has drawn an unfavourable comparison with the Netherlands, whose position at the top of their pool has confounded most. “The Dutch are in an easier group,” notes Haq. Scratch beneath the surface and greater clarity can be found. “Their team is full of guys who aren’t even Dutch,” he adds. “Whereas we’re all Scottish apart from Jean Symes.”
Some of that Caledonian crop have used the domestic break to tout their wares around possible English employers, with several trials already undergone and Matty Parker scheduled for an audition at Leicestershire. At 29, it is not too late for Haq to seek a move. Despite rave reviews, he has never been given a tempting offer to relocate.
That suits him just fine. He is content to leave those ambitions to his younger colleagues. “They’re always looking at opportunities down south. I’m really happy up here playing cricket.”
Others are keener to forge alternative options. Scotland opener Calum MacLeod, just back from a brief spell with Northants, did his reputation no harm with an unbeaten, if agonising, 99 not out against the Canadians. Increasingly, his batting is exemplary. “He’s always the first one to arrive and the last one to leave,” Haq reveals. “He’s a great fielder. That’s why he really deserves another chance. He offers a whole package to a team.”
Ten more like him, and the Saltires could raise their sights in the second half of the Pro 40 rather than simply chase respectability.
Haq, wearied of losses, is impatient for better. “Hopefully over the last five games, we can win three,” he states.
If not four, or more.