There will be a new face in the Scotland camp for their T20I Tri-Series against Holland and Ireland. Former Zimbabwe Head Coach Heath Streak will be in the Netherlands to offer his support as Scotland look to follow up their historic ODI victory over England with a series win against their other European near-neighbours.
Speaking the day after that unforgettable afternoon at The Grange, Heath began by giving his take on the result everyone was talking about.
“I’m really pleased for everyone involved,” he said. “[Beating England] was a fantastic result and is a big stepping-stone for Scotland who have consistently shown over the last few years how good they are, especially in short-format cricket.
“To the majority of the world it may have been a surprise but it didn’t surprise me at all. Scotland are a well-drilled, well-rehearsed, committed and dedicated team who play with a lot of passion and pride.
“It’s just a pity that they are not able to play in the World Cup.”
Scotland’s ultimate disappointment at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in March was shared by the tournament hosts. The day after Scotland’s controversial exit in the winner-takes-all decider with West Indies, Zimbabwe’s surprise defeat to UAE meant that it was Afghanistan which claimed the final qualification spot.
The passing weeks have done little to ease the pain for either side.
“We came so close,” said Heath. “[Zimbabwe] played West Indies in a game that went down to the last over and we had a couple of really tough decisions that had we had DRS could have been different.
“Exactly the same happened to Scotland. The lack of DRS was very costly and was probably the difference in them going to the World Cup which is something I felt they deserved.”
What happened next, though, shocked the entire cricketing world. Zimbabwe Cricket reacted to their team’s failure to qualify by summarily dismissing the entire coaching staff along with captain Graeme Cremer. Nearly three months on, the former Head Coach remains baffled by the decision.
“I understand the disappointment around not making a World Cup, we all felt that after we missed out so narrowly, but I was bitterly disappointed at how we were treated after that,” said Heath. “It was very reactive.
“We were progressing. The coaching team had pretty much doubled the win ratio in the year and a half since we had taken over, we had won our first away series in seventeen years and we’d got Solomon Mire, Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis back into the side.
“For us all to be fired en masse, not just the national team staff but all the selectors, the ‘A’ team coaching staff and the Under-19 coaching staff, was very reactionary. I’m sure the ECB won’t be firing all their coaching staff having lost to Scotland!”
For now, though, Heath is looking forward to teaming up with Scotland Head Coach Grant Bradburn and his team. With Indian Premier League experience on his CV, the forty-four-year-old’s expertise in the shortest format of the game will be particularly valuable.
“I will be in the Netherlands in a supporting role to the other coaching staff,” he said.
“Coaching at international level as well as being involved in the IPL with Gujarat Lions and Kolkata Knight Riders has given me a lot of experience and I’ll look to impart as much knowledge as I can to the coaching staff in the Scotland team.
“Grant and I have interfaced quite a lot in the past, especially through the series that [Zimbabwe] played against Scotland last year, and we’ve shared a lot of ideas.
“He’s exceptionally dedicated to his work and been thoroughly professional in the dealings that I’ve had with him and he is very committed to leaving a good legacy in Scotland.
“I’m very excited about the next few days and I’ll try to pass on as much of my own experience as I can.”
Streaming of the Scotland v Ireland match will available below.