This was the year that Sue Strachan was looking forward to making waves as the first female president in the history of Cricket Scotland – or its predecessor the Scottish Cricket Union.
The former Aberdeen University graduate, who met her husband in the Granite City, had been savouring the opportunity to visit a wide range of grassroots organisations and helping build on the momentum created by the famous ODI victory over England in 2018 and Kyle Coetzer’s team qualifying for the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia.
Yet the blight of Covid-19 quickly put paid to all these plans and Strachan wasn’t only deprived of any opportunity to watch meaningful action throughout the whole summer, but, in her vocation as a medical doctor, witnessed at close quarters the terrible impact which the pandemic has wreaked on so many people’s lives.
She is a redoubtable character and has striven to accentuate the positives from what has been an annus horribilis. But there is no glossing over the damage which has been inflicted on community sport with the continuing imposition of new lockdowns and stringent measures by Westminster and Holyrood to stall Covid’s spread.
Life has been quite scary
Only last week, Strachan was named as the Scotland team manager for the women’s T20 players who are scheduled to travel to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022. It’s a major accolade for her, but who knows what might happen if the Olympics, planned for Tokyo in eight months time, have to be cancelled again? Who really knows where any of us will be next summer in the current climate?
As she said: “There is no doubt that 2020 has been tough for everyone. I am lucky enough to have a good secure job as a doctor, but going to work during this year has, at times, been quite scary.
“My family are all keeping well and that is all you can really ask at this time. I had planned a great summer, visiting as many clubs in Scotland as possible to talk to our cricketing community and understand how we, as a governing body, can help to support them to grow and diversify the way that we deliver cricket, while watching as many matches as I could, but it just didn’t happen.
“I will be more than ready to do it all next year instead. We know it is going to be challenging to get going again [whenever the lockdown is lifted], but we will do it together as one big family and support each other wherever we can.”
The ICC have recently unveiled a packed programme of fixtures in 2021, while Scotland will play host to two prestigious events, the men’s under-19 European World Cup qualifier and the women’s T20 Euro qualifier, which will lead to matches being staged across the country in July and August.
Big ICC events are coming to Scotland
This should boost the profile of several grassroots clubs who have suffered badly from their clubhouses being closed with no action or revenue during the lost summer of 2020. So it’s not surprising that Strachan is relishing the Scots’ involvement.
She said: “It’s going to be an exciting year for us with these two ICC qualifiers and it will be great to get a big home crowd out to support our teams and for everybody to see teams from around Europe battling it out for these precious places.
“We have some very talented youngsters coming through the pathways to look out for. The u-19s will have home supporters for the first time and the women’s team will look forward to again seeing the Saltires around the ground and hearing Flower of Scotland being sung by our loyal Wildcats fans.
Seeds of optimism for the New Year
“As president, I am really looking forward to it. The men’s team have some exciting cricket to play as well, so it is going to be busy and I hope it will be incredibly successful for all of our sides.”
The new lockdown which starts on Boxing Day – with no indication of how long it will last – has cast a cloud over the prospect of anything approaching normality in sport.
There has even been talk that the restrictions might continue into the spring, but the development of a vaccine should bring renewed cause for optimism in the New Year.
Strachan is certainly remaining upbeat. And, as somebody with knowledge of both medicine and cricket (and squash), she is delivering a defiant message: Yes, it has been a tough and unprecedented year, but there should be better times ahead.