Michael Leask insists Scotland’s cricketers won’t be going to next year’s T20 World Cup just to make up the numbers.
The Saltires qualified for next year’s global showpiece in Australia after a tense qualifying campaign in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Down under next October the Scots will tackle Bangladesh, the Netherlands and Namibia in their initial group, with the top two reaching the Super 12 stage and facing top sides like India, England and Australia.
Aberdonian all-rounder Leask was part of the team who sealed qualification with a 90-run victory over the UAE.
And he believes Scotland can mix it with the world’s best 12 months from now.
The 29-year-old, who started his career with Stoneywood-Dyce, said: “It’s great to be going back to a World Cup and we have another tough little group in Australia.
“You need to finish in the top two to reach the Super 12.
“We’ll have to beat Namibia, Holland and Bangladesh.
“It’s going to require a lot of hard work to do that over the next year – but I do think we have the group of players to do it.
“We have to take a lot of confidence from qualifying, knowing that we should have qualified higher.
“It’s a tough group but we believe we can finish in the top two.
“We’ve beaten Bangladesh in T20 when Richie Berrington got a century and in 50-over cricket Kyle Coetzer got a hundred when we played them in 2015.
“They know we’re not soft touches and they’ll be without Shakib Al Hasan as well.
“It will be a dogfight but being in Australia might suit us a bit more. We’ll have to see next October.”
Next year’s World Cup will be the first time Scotland have competed in a global tournament since the 2016 T20 event in India.
They cruelly missed out on this year’s 50-over World Cup in England. Leask is pleased to get another crack at playing on a global stage and believes Shane Burger’s team have improved since their last World Cup outing.
He added: “It has moved forward a lot since the last World Cup. We’ve beaten a lot of big teams since then.
“Getting a win in the last T20 World Cup, our first at that level, made us feel like we belonged there.
“Since then guys like Calum MacLeod and Kyle Coetzer have scored runs in abundance and now George Munsey is doing it as well.
“We have moved to the next stage and we need to keep moving forward.”
Scotland’s qualifying campaign was far from straightforward.
Finishing in the top three in their group would have sealed a place in the tournament, but the Saltires could only manage fourth.
That meant they faced a win or bust play-off game against the UAE. But when the pressure was on the Scots produced their best performance of the qualifier, racking up 198 runs and then bowling out the hosts for 108.
Being part of the side was one of the highlights of Leask’s career.
He says it ranks alongside helping Scotland qualify for the 2015 50-over World Cup in New Zealand, when they edged past Kenya to not only qualify for the tournament, but gain full one-day international (ODI) status.
Leask said: “In the UAE game we came out and fired and got the job done.
“All the boys showed there was a grit about us not to mess it up.
“We dug in deep and put on a proper performance – it was the first time 200 had been scored on that ground for a long time and the boys were top drawer when it came to defending it.
“It was needed as well because a lot of us were under a lot of pressure and it was good to get over the line.
“Qualifying is up there in terms of my career. We qualified against Kenya in New Zealand for the 50-over World Cup.
“It wasn’t the way we wanted to do it, but we got the job done and it was a one-day fight.
“If we’d lost that day we would have lost ODI status and wouldn’t have qualified for the World Cup.
“This time comes very close to the highlight of my career, but reaching the 2015 World Cup just pips it because there was more on the line.
“This time feels similar because it wasn’t how we wanted but it was equally pleasing to qualify.”