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Scotland makes a full-time job out of staying at the head of the bunch​

Captain Watson is out to retain Associates’ premier ODI title but argues Ireland is favourite this time

For the past 15 years, Scotland has been doing its best to keep its head in front of its rivals among the Associate Members of the International Cricket Council (ICC). Since joining the ICC in 1994, it was among the first to appoint a full-time chief executive, other paid administrators and national coach, and now it has managed to put three of its players on full-time contracts with many others having been retained on part-time commitments.

As a result, Scotland has, for many years now, been at the forefront of Associate cricket. Winners of the ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004 and the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier (then known as the ICC Trophy) in 2005, the Scots had also qualified for the Cricket World Cup 1999 at the qualifying tournament in Kuala Lumpur in 1997.

A player to benefit from Scotland’s forward thinking is captain Ryan Watson, who is one of the three full-time professionals contracted to Cricket Scotland.

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Cricket Scotland reveal contracts plan

Scotland are planning to double their pool of centrally-funded professionals if they qualify for the 2011 World Cup.

December saw Cricket Scotland offer their first ever full-time contracts to captain Ryan Watson and pace bowlers Dewald Nel and Gordon Goudie. The trio joined Kyle Coetzer (Durham) and Navdeep Poonia and Calum MacLeod (both Warwickshire) as fully-fledged professionals.

Scotland begin their World Cup qualifying campaign in South Africa next month and Cricket Scotland chief executive Roddy Smith said: "We hope, if we qualify, to bring three more in straight away. So we hope to have six on professional contracts and, if you add in the three or four guys playing in the English counties, we have nearly got a full team of professional cricketers."

Smith was speaking as sportscotland announced a £415,320 investment into the sport in Scotland, including money for grassroots coaching and five regional academies.

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Buoyant Cricket Scotland take guard against financial downturn

THE pre-recession global cricket boom was reflected in a healthy set of financial results released yesterday by Cricket Scotland, which made a pre-tax profit of almost £60,000 in 2008.
The governing body, based in Edinburgh, used increased funding from the International Cricket Council to invest dramatically more in youth development, spending £269,000 on its "pathways" programme, a 67 per cent rise on the previous year.

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Clydesdale ace Qasim Sheikh tells of his horror at Pakistan cricket shootings

CLYDESDALE batting ace Qasim Sheikh has spoken of his shock and horror of last week's terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan.

The Scotland stroke-master was in the city of Karachi on duty for the Pakistani Customs Club when the atrocities took place in Lahore in the north of the country.

Five policemen were killed and a number of Sri Lanka players were injured as the team bus was ambushed on their way to the Qadaffi Stadium for the third day's play in the test match between the two countries.

Sheikh revealed how he heard the news and has expressed fears of the long-term effects on Pakistani sport.

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