Scotland plotting England’s downfall
THERE have been more significant encounters between England and Scotland down the years. But not in Christchurch and not at cricket.
The fate of a coach and a managing director may hang on the outcome of today's World Cup pool match, an unimaginable turn of events which is matched by the equally improbable prospect of a Scottish win.
England should prevail easily. It is one of those fixtures that was marked down months ago as a straightforward, unquestioned two group points on the way to the quarter-finals. But all that has changed in the space of a week.
Now, England is on its knees and praying for a break after a bad loss to Australia to open the tournament, and a complete thrashing at the hands of New Zealand in Wellington on Friday.
Twice in six days England has been woefully short of the necessary level, unable to present any sort of credentials as modern one-day cricketers and seemingly ill-prepared for the rigours of tournament play.
Coach Peter Moores, one of those under the most pressure, was candid in his assessment of the team's performance against New Zealand.
"A defeat like that is not an easy one to shake off and shouldn't be, you would be disappointed if it were," he said.
"Days like that should live with you for a while and you don't want to off- load any of it.
"My overriding feeling was that it was a disappointment for the people who came to watch because it wasn't an acceptable performance.
"The players' preparation was good but we didn't play in the style we wanted to play. We have got to address that - we have to come back with something."
Whether that means changing personnel was unclear, although surely Alex Hales must come in for Gary Ballance and James Taylor must move back up the batting order.
One person who will be doing his best to ensure England's woes continue is former star batsman Paul Collingwood.
England's most capped one-day cricketer and the country's only captain to lift a major limited-overs trophy - the 2010 World T20 - will be plotting England's downfall in his new role as a specialist coach to Scotland.
The veteran of 197 ODIs said he expected to feel strange at the playing of the national anthems, but admitted he wouldn't be surprised if Scotland won.
"There is genuine belief in the camp that our first win is just round the corner," he said.
"If we keep teams under pressure and keep playing the brand of cricket we have in the last year with the skill levels, that win isn't too far away."
ENGLAND V SCOTLAND
Hagley Oval, 8am (AEST)