The winter weather may still be exerting an icy grip, but Scotland’s cricketers have their eyes set firmly on what will succeed it. With a trip to the USA for the next round of CWCL2 coming up in April as well as the long-awaited start of the domestic season, the men’s squad has stepped up its preparations for what will be another bumper year of international cricket.
The Cricket Scotland Podcast spent a day with the coaching staff and players to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in its training, skills work and matchday strategizing.
“We’ve got a nice routine,” said Mark Watt. “There’s an optional training session at 6.30am which I think everyone has been to most of [the time], which shows in itself the dedication. We’re sometimes on from 6am until 8pm, so [we’re putting in] long days. Monday, for example, was 6am at MES [Mary Erskine’s School], then Fettes for three hours of skills work, then up to Oriam for fielding fitness, then into the gym, and then home.”
“It’s a pretty early start, getting to MES for these early morning sessions,” agreed Dylan Budge, “but I’m really enjoying them. It’s nice to get into a routine, which is something we’ve all really enjoyed over the last block.”
Matthew Cross added further detail to the players’ weekly schedule.
“Pretty much every day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, [there is] some sort of conditioning work,” he said, “then we have two cricket-based sessions and a gym session as well, so there is about five or six hours work spread over the day.
“They are long days but in some ways that’s quite relatable to a game of cricket as you’re out there all day.”
“These weeks are really good for us, pushing us fitness-wise and getting everyone where they need to be for the start of the season,” added Craig Wallace. “Personally, I’ve been getting up at 5am to get to MES for 6. But the rewards will come at the end of the year when we’re in Australia battling it out against the best in the world.
“We’re putting in the hard yards now to get the rewards later.”
“Tomorrow [Thursday] we’ve got a day off,” said Hamza Tahir, “but we’ve got two more gym sessions to fit in ourselves during the week, so that’ll be four gym sessions in total. Two more on Friday and Sunday, and then back training again on Monday morning.”
The day began with a session led by Strength and Conditioning Coach Nick Karamouzis, a recent addition to the Cricket Scotland set-up from Hampshire. Team-based challenges add a competitive element, which, says Nick, can only help the squad in its quest for extra advantage.
“There’s a lot of covert learning that’s going on there,” he said. “That’s what I try to bring and hopefully that’s going to give us an edge moving into competition. I like to bring a bit of funkiness to it, keep it fun and interactive.”
“I think it’s something that all good teams have, lots of team building with everyone sticking together,” agreed Craig. “Hopefully it’ll stand us in good stead when we’re fighting on the pitch as well.”
“It’s good to get a bit of a competitive edge,” added Oli Hairs. “Everyone’s quite competitive so those games get quite intense quite quickly which is good, it just pushes you that extra little bit.
“It’s a lot easier to do things when you’ve got the whole team rather than just doing it yourself. We even [did a running block] outside the other day in a blizzard – I’m not quite sure I’d have done it myself in a blizzard, but as a group we all chipped in and it was good work.”
“As opposed to the past when [training] was maybe a bit more individualised and we maybe did things a bit more on our own, we’re actually working together as a group and pushing each other that bit harder,” agreed Matthew. “There’s always that competitive element between the boys so there have been a lot more competitive challenges and fitness sessions where we’ve been pushing each other, and I think we’ve been getting more out of each other that way.
“We’re always trying to find new ways to push ourselves to the next level,” he continued. “We want to be a top ten nation and we’re not blessed with the facilities of other countries, we see that even in the Associate world, so guys are finding different ways to practise facing real quick bowling or tough conditions when it’s spinning. We make the most of [the facilities we have] and we’re trying everything to make ourselves a top ten team.”
“I’m very impressed with how the guys operate,” said Nick. “They are self-sufficient, they’re autonomous, they’ve had some great support through Cricket Scotland of course and the Scottish Institute of Sport, but [since I’ve been here] I’ve been really impressed with the way in which they go about things.
“I’ve come from Hampshire Cricket where a lot of the guys rely on you quite a lot to tell them exactly what needs to be done on a daily basis, to have everything set out and structured, but these guys are happy to function on their own. They know exactly what they should be doing.
Scotland fly to La Manga tomorrow for a 5-day camp to continue their pre-season preparations.
Training Squad: Kyle Coetzer (Captain), Richie Berrington, George Munsey, Oli Hairs, Matthew Cross, Calum MacLeod, Dylan Budge, Michael Jones, Craig Wallace, George Scott, Safyaan Sharif, Hamza Tahir, Mark Watt, Tom Sole, Michael Leask, Chris Greaves, Gavin Main, Chris Sole, Ruaidhri Smith, Stuart Whittingham, Alistair Evans, Scott Steel.
Coaching Staff: Shane Burger (Head Coach), Grant Morgan, Nick Karamouzis, Dean Conway, Jonathan Newell, Owen Dawkins.
The latest edition of the Cricket Scotland Podcast, which also features interviews with Shane Burger, Grant Morgan and ex-England women’s coach Mark Robinson, is available for download via Spotify and Podbean.