The next peak was in 2004, when Scotland won the Intercontinental Cup (absolutely obliterating both Kenya and Canada in the semi and final) and finished second in the Six Nations. 2005 brought an ICC Trophy victory and 2007 World Cup berth, and Scotland were rightly regarded as the best Associate in both the long and short format of the game. This was soon followed by a trough, what with elimination in the first round of the 2005 and 2006 Intercontinental Cups, and some serious bridesmaid duties in the European Championships and World Cricket League, either side of a series of poundings in the 2007 World Cup.
If you fast forward to the present day, the Scots lie fourth in the Intercontinental Cup and third, just a couple of wins away from landing an automatic World Cup qualification for 2015, and while they are yet to beat a Full Member in an ODI, they defeated Bangladesh in a Twenty20 off the back of a Richie Berrington onslaught. They have also enjoyed an influx of county talent thanks to a small tweak in eligibility rules.
Calum MacLeod developed his batting after being banned from bowling; now he does both.
The Scottish set-up is blessed with all-rounders. Richie Berrington, Preston Mommsen, Calum MacLeod (who is back bowling at last after action troubles), Majid Haq, Rob Taylor, Josh Davey, Matt Machan, Moneeb Iqbal, Michael Leask, Calvin Burnett, Neil Carter, Jan Stander, Gordon Goudie (who is apparently now a capable batsman too). You could literally fill an entire eleven with them and have some spare. There is a tendency for these players to be bits and pieces cricketers, but most, like Haq, Berrington, Mommsen and MacLeod have a lot to offer the team in at least one department. This means that you could easily pick a team that bats all the way down to eleven, and theoretically choose a wicket-keeper who is a specialist gloveman should you so desire.
Despite all these options, the Scottish selectors seem from an outside viewpoint to make many baffling decisions. For instance, batting Gordon Goudie at three is almost as baffling as having Calum MacLeod at eight, especially when the latter has a T20 century and ODI 99 not out for Scotland, while the former has not so much as a fifty. Also, with so many players seemingly of the same level, it can be somewhat difficult to pick your best eleven. For sure, Kyle Coetzer and Majid Haq should be inked in on that sheet, but after that, whom? You could probably take your pick from up to thirty names.
Recently, the most dependable Scotsman has been Majid Haq and his off-breaks, but the one who is really capable of turning a game is Kyle Coetzer. The opener has been a class up when he's represented his country, which is reflected in his ODI batting average of 48. His 133 against Afghanistan's vaunted bowlers was something to behold, and an 89 against Ireland two years ago was enough to overturn the momentum created by a Paul Stirling century and earn Scotland a surprise win. Now appointed as captain, we shall see if the responsibility helps or hinders his play.
The club scene in Scotland is large and well-developed, but has quite a poor record of producing international-ready players. In response, Cricket Scotland created an all-new Pro Series between two completely artificial teams, the "Reivers" and "Highlanders". The Pro Series has so far been very low-key, not helped by a postponement and a washout. Hopefully, it will gather momentum, but I much prefer domestic competitions with geographical-based teams, like the Interpros.
Scotland cannot afford to be overly dependant on Machan, Taylor, Carter, Murphy, Coughtrie and Wardlaw coming through from county cricket. They need to continue developing young Scottish talent like Ryan Flannigan, Ewan Chalmers and Freddie Coleman. Some consistency in selection would be nice, too - it's no good for someone like Calum MacLeod to play two successive matches, one as a specialist batsman and one as a specialist bowler. Without a clearly defined role, these players will not be able to produce their best.
Scotland are a team in flux desperately looking to settle back down after introducing half a line-up of new talent. One team who are in terminal decline are Bermuda and they will be the next stop on the Road Trip; until then, goodbye.