Coetzer all set for World T20 Qualifiers
Scottish captain, Kyle Coetzer, is one of life's redoubtable customers. He isn't somebody who remotely savours losing his wicket or any kind of cricket contest, so one can can understand where he is coming from when he claims that his team must start emulating the exploits of Ireland on the international stage and stop having any truck with the concept of so-called "honourable defeats."
Coetzer and his confreres head off tomorrow to Sri Lanka and then Dubai, where they will attempt to qualify for the World T20 event, at the start of what is shaping into a pivotal winter for Peter Steindl's squad, with the Scots also trying to book their place at the 2015 World Cup in New Zealand. The Caledonian contingent need to be at these global tournaments, particularly as nations in the mould of Afghanistan raise their standards and advance up the ICC rankings. So Coetzer is blunt in his assessment of the sea change which he desires after a summer which contained too may reverses for comfort.
"I am no longer interested in just being competitive. We want to beat the big countries we face because we have seen what the Irish have done and I am honestly convinced there is no real difference between us and them in terms of talent," said the 29-year-old Northants professional.
"Perhaps they have gained a bit of extra confidence and momentum [from defeating the likes of ICC Full Members, England and Pakistan since 2007], but we were all at a team-bonding camp in Aviemore recently, and it was pretty clear that we all want to set our sights higher."
Coetzer's personnel will have to hit the ground running when they launch their Twenty20 qualifying campaign, but the skipper believes his party possess the right blend of qualities to master the challenge, even without the services of Preston Mommsen who will be absent through injury..
"We have got all the bases covered in the squad, we have left-handed batsmen, right-handed batsmen, right and left-arm seamers, good spinners, aggressive hitters, lots of all-rounders, and I have no doubts over the potential of our guys, but they have to go out and prove it," said Coetzer. "It won't be easy and I regard Afghanistan as a genuine threat, because we haven't had much success against them in the past, so we could lay down a marker if we went over there and beat them.
"But, in the bigger picture, we can't afford to worry about the opposition; it is how we perform that matters. Twenty20 is an unpredictable format. It is a game where one player can virtually win a match on his own if everything comes off for him. But we have people with that ability [both Kyle and Richie Berrington have flourished in these tussles the past] and it is up to us to make a statement, to show what we are capable of, and get back on to the world stage."
Coetzer added that the Scots had been bolstered by the recruitment of the former England all-rounder, Paul Collingwood, who is working with Steindl's ensemble for the next few months. "I benefited from his experience when I was at Durham and it helps that he is still playing and leading his county to so much success," said Coetzer. "Paul has huge knowledge of T20 and ODIs, he is the type of guy who put his hand up when England needed him and he is passing on these lessons to us now."
As a proud son of Aberdeen, Coetzer is relishing the chance to tackle the Auld Enemy when Scotland meet England at Mannofield in what us sure to be a grand occasion next May. It will be the first time the countries have faced each other in the Granite City, but the skipper declared that everybody, on and off the pitch, has to work to raise the sport's profile.
"There are a lot of cricket lovers throughout Scotland, but maybe we don't make these sort of games as big spectacles as they should be," said Coetzer. "We have to treat these matches in the same fashion as a big football or rugby international and turn it into a party and, obviously, we have to give the fans something to shout about. It is a massive opportunity, and we know how strong England are, but I can't wait and it will be fantastic to go back to my home city and put on a show for them."
Coetzer has grown up with a tough-as-teak attitude to his vocation. He is clearly committed to passing on that philosophy to his compatriots, which can only be positive news for those who care about the sport..