26th May: Chennai S. Kings v Mumbai I, 14:30 GMT
24th-28th May: 2nd Test, Headingley
2013 is an important year for Scottish cricket. Lying second in the ICC Intercontinental Cup behind Ireland, they continue their bid to qualify for the 2015 World Cup and play further One-Day Internationals against Austalia and Pakistan.
All-rounder Majid Haq is looking forward to what he calls a 'huge year', in which he aims to add to his tally of 29 One-Day Internationals and 13 Twenty20 Internationals for the Saltires.
Speaking to www.pakpassion.net, he says, "Next month we’re away to Dubai to play against Afghanistan in two T20 games, two 50-over games and a four-day match. The season in the UK then starts in the first week of April so we’ve actually got a very busy year this year.
"We’ve got two games against Pakistan, two games against Australia, five games against Ireland, five games against Kenya, five games against Afghanistan as well as 12 games against English counties - we’ve got a very busy summer this year.
"Cricket’s becoming a very big sport in Scotland and the team is progressing nicely. This is a huge year for Scottish cricket, as we can qualify for two World Cups. Insha’Allah [God-willing] we can do it."
Scotland qualified for the first two ICC World Twenty20 tournaments in 2007 and 2009 but missed out in 2010 and 2012, also failing to qualify for the 2011 World Cup.
Boosted by a revamped domestic structure, central contracts, funding from the ICC, players contracted by counties and a rule change allowing English-born players with Scottish parentage to play, Haq feels Scotland are moving in the right direction.
"Probably 80% off the players are full-time professionals now. That’s with Cricket Scotland and also with the English counties, so we’ve come a long way but there’s still plenty more to do for cricket to become fully professional in Scotland, but we’re on the right track."
Haq shares the view offered by Niall O'Brien, that a two-tier system of Test cricket would offer Scotland an opportunity to compete with the likes of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and Ireland.
"I think that would work very well," he said. "Teams like Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, England, India and Sri Lanka I would say are quite a bit ahead of teams like Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland ourselves, but I reckon a two-tier system would work very well. Obviously the bottom teams would play each other and I would say that would work very well.
"I think we would be very confident of beating teams at that level to be honest. We played Bangladesh last time in July and beat them quite comfortably in a Twenty20 International. We’ve beaten Kenya quite a lot in recent times, we beat Afghanistan, we beat Ireland two years ago as well so I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to beat these teams on a regular basis."
Looking ahead to the brace of ODIs Scotland will play against Pakistan, Haq sees them as an opportunity for his team.
"Yes, it's a great opportunity for the Scotland team to beat a top side like Pakistan. They are in form at the moment as well and have a lot of exciting players coming too. We are looking forward to getting a chance go play against Saeed Ajmal and I'm looking forward to meet him and pick his brains. I'm really looking forward to the two games in May."
© Cricket World 2013
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