In the changeable world of Associate cricket, Scotland is well used to accommodating both its yin and its yang. The national team’s euphoric victory over England last June turned out to be one of the last acts of another exasperatingly short international summer, but the positive energy it generated is still very much in the air. With Afghanistan and Sri Lanka coming to town, Kyle Coetzer’s men will be looking to make the most of another opportunity to show the world exactly what they are made of.
The May internationals also represent the beginning of Shane Burger’s reign as national coach, and with the start of Cricket World Cup League Two and the ICC Global Qualifier for the Men’s T20 World Cup on the horizon, too, the likable South African is looking forward to having a healthy number of fixtures in which to make his mark.
“The fact that we’re going to be playing more cricket than we have for a while is fantastic,” he said. “Although training is obviously really important, we learn far more from playing matches, so it’s a great time for me to be taking over.
“I really enjoyed watching the videos of the England win, seeing the passion and ambition of the Scottish people, and for me the big goal is to show that that game wasn’t a flash in the pan and that we can beat world class teams on a regular basis. I’m under no illusion that that it is going to be an easy task – we have a lot that we need to do to become more consistent – but it is a challenge that I am really looking forward to.”
Since taking the reins in March, the thirty-six-year-old has been impressed by what he has seen.
“Time has flown, which is always a good sign!” he said. “For me it’s been a huge transition, obviously, finding out who everyone is and how they fit into the organisation, what their characteristics are and so on. La Manga gave me a great idea of how the team bonds together, and as I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t think this group really realises what it is capable of.
“We’ve achieved so many good things over the last few years but there is so much more to come. That really excites me, and I’m incredibly happy to be working in an organisation where everyone has a common goal. All the staff at Cricket Scotland are very ambitious and they are all striving to become world class which is something I really want to achieve as well.”
Last month’s training camp in La Manga brought together players from both the men’s and women’s squads in a series of combined as well as separate outdoor sessions. The opportunity the initiative provided stretched far beyond its coaching, however.
“I think that’s the first time something like that been done anywhere [in the cricket world],” said Shane, “which is very wrong in many ways. Every organisation should have a men’s and women’s team who are familiar with each other, who know each other by name, who can support and encourage and congratulate each other. In doing that it creates a better vibe all round. For everyone to have had that time to spend together was really good and hopefully it can be done again in the future.”
For now, though, his attention is fully directed towards May 8th and the first of Scotland’s summer ODIs against Full Member opposition.
“They’ve thrown me straight into it haven’t they, playing two of the top ten ranked teams in the world!” laughed Shane. “But I wouldn’t want it any other way.
“Afghanistan is a team on the rise at the moment. They are one of the in-form sides in international cricket and they have some incredibly exciting players, and for us to be tested against them right at the beginning of my time as coach will give a great indication of where we are just now.
“And then Sri Lanka will provide us with a completely different challenge,” he continued. “They have a young side with some serious talent. They have players who bring a bit of mystery, can bowl with both arms and do some very different things.
“But we’ll be well prepared for all four games and whatever they come and throw at us we can hopefully counter with what we do best. I am really looking forward to it all.”