Scotland Excited For World T20 Shot

The ICC have confirmed the schedule for the World T20 Qualifiers in Thailand this November so CRICKETher sat down with Scotland captain Abbi Aitken to talk about the challenge ahead:

“We are really excited to head out to Thailand.” she says. “We have Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Thailand in our group. We’ve played Papua New Guinea and Thailand before. We’ve never played Bangladesh, but we are well aware of the skill and the depth that they have.”

The tournament is structured around two groups of four, with the top two teams in each group going through to semis and a final; but only the two finalists qualify for the World T20 “proper” in India next year. Scotland’s first challenge is to make it through the group stages, and for Aitken that is the main goal:

“We back ourselves to finish in the top 2 of our group and that is going to be our aim.”

Asked if they can go one better and book themselves a ticket to India, Aitken dials-down expectations: “We’ll see how the tournament goes!” she replies with a smile.

These qualifiers represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Scotland:

“Last time we competed in a World Cup qualifier was in South Africa in 2008. That was an eye-opener for myself – I was really young – going out there and actually experiencing international cricket outwith Europe is an experience and it will be interesting for the girls.”

But excitement within the camp is tempered by nerves:

“There’s a massive competition going on at the moment for places – we’ve got 14 people that we can take and we’ve realistically got 19/20 girls pushing for those places. It is difficult to then select a team to go, and there are going be a few disappointed faces, but it is good for us at the end of the day to have that competition.”

For Aitken, who remains a “full time amateur”, balancing work and cricket can be demanding, no more so than when you are heading off to an international tournament:

“I’ve just got a new job and I’m already facing challenges with having to ask for holidays before I’ve even started. It’s not always easy.”

At the end of the day though, pulling on that Scotland jersey is its own reward:

“Any time you wear the shirt you wear it with pride!” she says. “It is a juggle, but we do it because we love it.”