Scottish cricket has many unsung heroes, those who go far beyond the extra mile to ensure the continued health of our game, but Sam Scott will always occupy a particularly prominent place amongst their number. Ferguslie’s Junior Convenor for more than thirty years, Sam also played his part in the development of many of Scotland’s international stars, and as he looks back on his time in cricket so far it is clear that both his love of the game and enthusiasm for his role is undimmed.
“Although I retired from my Scotland duties at the end of the 2018 season, I’m still going strong at Ferguslie,” he said. “As Junior Convenor I’m in overall charge of youth development at the club.
“It’s most unfortunate that everything has closed down because of Covid-19, because at the point where we had to stop, we had an Under-11 group of about nineteen or twenty and an older group of maybe sixteen kids, which is better numbers than we’ve had for a long time.
“We used to have much bigger numbers than that – I think back to around 1995, when we had around forty to fifty kids playing. But since I retired – I’m a retired PE teacher – I’ve been going out to the primary schools to do after-school clubs to try and recruit, and with our involvement in the All Stars programme as well we’ve been quite successful. We send kids to the Kwik Cricket on a Sunday morning and we have our Under-12s, -14s and -16s playing league cricket, so it’s all building up again. Hopefully we can pick up where we left off when this is all over!”
In addition to his role at the Paisley club, Sam worked with Scotland’s age-group teams for more than twenty years.
“My first job was as Under-13 manager to Pete Steindl in 1995,” he said. “Kyle Coetzer was in that first team – he was eleven at the time, a young prodigy, we had him for two years at that level.
“I’d got involved through [Chairman of Selectors] Iain Kennedy, who is a member at Ferguslie. When I started as Junior Convenor, he talked me into doing all the coaching courses. In charge of the Level 2 course was Jim Love, who was the national coach at the time, and Iain, who was working with Sport Scotland as the Cricket Development Officer, and they invited me to be the Under-13 manager.
“It was a very enjoyable experience throughout,” continued Sam. “I very much appreciated working with a lot of good coaches – I’ve been manager to Alan Patterson, Willie Morton, Craig Wright, Steve Paige, Pete Steindl, Simon Smith, Drummo [Gordon Drummond], I’ve had all these guys as coaches at one time or another, and working with them has been a great privilege.
“I was also fortunate enough to be invited to be the Under-19 manager at a couple of World Cups – I was in Bangladesh with Willie and in Dubai not that long ago with Craig and Smudger [Simon Smith]. I was also involved with three Under-15 teams that won the European Championships, and on one occasion an Under-15 side that won the ECB Trophy. I’ve been very lucky.”
In addition to national captain Kyle Coetzer, the list of players Sam has worked with reads like a Who’s Who of the recent history of Scottish cricket: Richie Berrington, Michael Leask, Safyaan Sharif, Matthew Cross, Calum MacLeod, Hamza Tahir, Gavin Main, Ali Evans and Craig Wallace are just some of those to have gone through the age-group system during his time.
“The list is endless!” laughed Sam. “I’d say that of virtually any Scotland team that goes out on the pitch, about eight will have come through the set-up. It’s great to see.”
But it is to the future that his eyes are turned as, like so many, his thoughts turn to the current situation.
“I hope we can pick up with the juniors again, whenever that may be, and I’m just looking forward to getting to a game of cricket!” said Sam.
“I knew already, but this last summer has confirmed that I can’t exist without it!”