When do you think the redoubtable Scotland cricket captain, Kyle Coetzer, made the following statement?
“It’s the last fixture of the summer, in terms of internationals, so it’s nice to have a bit of clean weather to get the match started.”
Perhaps at the end of August last year as the shadows lengthened? Or the middle of September with the chill nipping in the air?
Pause for hollow laughter.
Nope, the Aberdonian stalwart actually uttered these words on Tuesday – May 21 – as if to illustrate the devilish difficulties of life for the Associate countries in striving to play the game at the highest level.
Coetzer is too experienced and pragmatic to waste time moaning about the situation in which he and his colleagues find themselves, but it is surely ridiculous that his squad has already finished their quota of elite ODIs a little matter of four days before Celtic tackle Hearts in the Scottish Cup final and 11 days in advance of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Spurs.
Obviously, there are plenty of people in Scotland who regard cricket in the same way as Morris dancing, Trooping the Colour and the Last Night of the Proms.
But when one considers the scant amount of opportunities afforded the Scots to build on the progress they have made while beating Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and England – the clear World Cup favourites – in the last two years, there should be ample sympathy for the predicament in which they find themselves.
The weather, of course, doesn’t help. In the last fortnight, the new national coach, Shane Burger, has been given a demoralising induction to the realities of cricket in the north.
Four matches against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, both of whom are ICC Full Members and yet not massively superior to the Scotland line-up. And what happened? Two contests were abandoned without a ball being bowled, the other brace were settled through the dreaded system which puts the Duck into Duckworth-Lewis.
In neither case were the hosts embarrassed. Far from it. I think they might have edged matters against Afghanistan who still required more than 50 with just five overs left.
Yet, the second case, where a rain delay left Burger’s side chasing 103 in seven overs – they managed 68 in that period – highlighted the travails faced by Coetzer and his confreres.
In batting terms, whether it’s Calum MacLeod, Matt Cross, George Munsey, Richie Berrington, Michael Leask or Coetzer himself, these free-scoring individuals are a threat to any attack and could and should be part of the World Cup which starts in England next week.
But sadly, there’s still a lack of cutting edge in the bowling stakes, which is mostly due to the dearth of opportunities at their disposal. Brad Wheal did well against Sri Lanka, but he has proved he can thrive on the English county and one has to hope the likes of Tom Sole, Adrian Neill and Gavin Main follow suit in the future.
Ultimately, though, if they aren’t granted more of these ODIs against the best – which doesn’t include Oman and Papua New Guinea, who travel to Aberdeen in August – the door will remain shut in the Scots’ faces. And that makes a mockery of the game’s so-called development.