Gary Heatly talks to Gus Mackay about the return to cricket
Cricket Scotland Chief Executive Gus Mackay is as excited as anyone to see the sport edging back towards a full return at all levels in the country after a tough period – and he believes there is a bright future ahead.
When the former Zimbabwean internationalist took up his post with the governing body in late 2019, he could not have imagined that by April 2021 he would only have seen one day of live cricket in Scotland.
However, everyone involved in the sport in this country wants to look to the future now and everyone is keen to put the challenges of the last 13 months or so behind them.
And Mackay and everyone else at Cricket Scotland has been working tirelessly alongside the Scottish Government and others to get cricket back safely in time for the 2021 summer.
“The strong message is that cricket’s safe, let’s get back on, let’s work within the protocols and the guidelines,” Mackay said.
“As a game it’s been proven that it’s safe and what they’ve done internationally has proven that.
“Domestic cricket is the lifeblood and the base of what we do as a governing body.
“We’re looking at a return for competitive club cricket from May 17 when travel is permitted. We’ve employed some more Development Officers on short-term contracts to help clubs get back on track and flourish post-pandemic – it’s about communities, it’s about getting people back out there playing and helping their mental and physical wellbeing in the process.
“On the men’s international side, Head Coach Shane Burger is very focused, as we all are, on building things up leading into the T20 World Cup later in the year.
“It is great that we have two ODIs in place with the Netherlands in May while we’re talking all the time to Full Members and other countries about playing games.
“Last year we were supposed to play Australia and New Zealand and we try to capture teams as they come through Europe to come and play up here.
“Bio secure units and other things make it a bit more difficult currently, but there are lots of discussions happening.
“The women’s game is very important to our future success and obviously bringing in Mark Coles as a full-time coach with the national team demonstrates our commitment to that area of cricket.
“In terms of our bigger ambitions of becoming a Full Member, the women’s results are important to the overall picture and, again, we are looking at trying to get more fixtures for the team against good sides going forward.”
Meanwhile, Mackay has been “blown away” by the number of people who care deeply about the sport since he moved north of the border following a long spell working in England.
“I’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and passion for cricket in Scotland, no doubt about that, it has been amazing to see,” Mackay told members of the media at a recent event at Goldenacre.
“Everyone I’ve come across – from those who cover the sport in the media to the people at clubs – has a real desire to make cricket bigger and better in this country.
“That attitude has been fantastic. When I told people I was coming here to work a lot of them asked, ‘do they play cricket in Scotland?’ and I was happy to tell them that very much they do.
“Now we have got to raise the profile of the game through our media and marketing.
“My job is to make sure we take any opportunity we get to raise the profile of this wonderful sport as there’s some great talent in Scotland from a young age all the way up the men’s and women’s senior squads.”