Malcolm Cannon has emphasised the importance of the support of the ECB as Scottish cricket looks to continue its advance towards Full Member status. After the national side narrowly missed out on qualification for the 2019 ICC World Cup, Cricket Scotland’s CEO believes that enhanced links with the game south of the border would provide a significant boost to the demonstrable progress that has already been made both on and off the field.
“We already enjoy a very good working relationship with England,” he said.
“At grassroots level, for instance, we are continuing to benefit from some top quality, world class programmes which the ECB has developed. The ICC’s Skills Exchange programme, too, is a fantastic initiative which gives us access to expertise from within the ECB to assist in the development of the business side of our organisation.
“These are a couple of examples of support which is already impacting on our work in a very positive way.”
Whilst those are much appreciated, it is the opportunity for extended international competition which remains most elusive to all the Associate nations, however. Scotland’s entire summer programme – against England, Pakistan, Ireland and the Netherlands – will be played over a period of just eleven June days, and with speculation rife around the future shape of the ICC Intercontinental Cup and World Cricket League Championships, too, the need to secure more playing opportunities has never been more pressing.
“We are looking at ways in which our Men’s and Women’s teams might be able to play in ECB County competitions going forward,” said Malcolm. “It would be great to have some of the Counties come and play in Scotland, too, and we are examining how that could work in the future.
“Connected with that is the development of our match officials. Because chances for our umpires to regularly officiate in international cricket in Scotland are limited, the ability to stand in Regional or County competitions down in England is massively beneficial.
“The ECB can really help us in facilitating more of those opportunities.”
Scotland’s fine showing in the World Cup Qualifier helped bring the ICC’s controversial decision to limit the World Cup to ten teams into sharp focus as players, coaches and commentators lined up to argue the case for an expanded tournament.
Although it has been reported that the ICC plans will be revisited, the eight-year deal signed with broadcasters Star TV, which covers both the 2019 and 2023 editions of the showpiece tournament, means that the possibility of wholesale changes being introduced for 2023 remains remote.
The recently announced Tri-Series between Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands, though, shows how other opportunities might be created instead. Cricket Scotland is keen to explore the options.
“If, as we suspect, there is no chance of any flexibility on the ten team World Cup in 2019 and 2023, then there may be an opportunity for another tournament,” said Malcolm. “The ‘non-ten’ could compete in what would be an exciting competition with world interest that included countries like Nepal, Ireland, ourselves and others who weren’t at the World Cup.
“Although we fully accept that [in Zimbabwe] we had the chance to qualify for the next World Cup and failed to take it, those opportunities need to come around more frequently than they currently do. If, in the meantime, there is a chance to facilitate something else then we will look to be a part of it.”
Scotland’s international summer begins on June 10th as England visit Edinburgh for a one-off ODI at The Grange. With the game already sold out, Malcolm hopes that the oldest sporting rivalry of them all can continue to play out on the cricket field for many years to come.
“Scotland against England is one of the oldest internationals in the world and we are very much looking forward to playing them again,” he said. “We would love to think we can continue to do so too, but beyond the game in June there is no contractual obligation or window of opportunity apart from ICC pathway events.
“Playing the full England team is enormously beneficial to us, but if it is not possible because of fixture congestion then it would be immensely valuable for both our Men’s and Women’s teams to play the England ‘A’ sides instead. It would provide a great test for us because of their quality and it would also generate that outstanding level of interest that sporting encounters with the Auld Enemy always bring.
“It’s a real shame that otherwise it may be a long time until we are able to play each other again.”