He was named men’s associate cricketer of the decade – and Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer is determined to keep breaking down barriers.
Although he has been largely sidelined since the start of the pandemic, the Aberdonian’s performances with the bat and as Saltires’ skipper were recognised at the end of 2020 with the cricketer of the decade gong from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
For those playing associate cricket – the level below ICC full members such as England, Australia and India – it is as high an accolade as you can receive with Coetzer also congratulated by the Scottish Parliament after a motion was tabled by north-east MSP Lewis Macdonald.
The player, who started his career with Stoneywood-Dyce, said: “It was really special to receive that award. I didn’t expect anything to come my way with regards an award like that.
“It’s certainly nice to receive the recognition and the kind messages I’ve had with people saying I’ve impacted a lot of people in a positive way.
“For me that’s the nice thing about it and I have shown consistent performance over the years.
“That comes from the environment and the people that are around me, I’ve loved every moment and I’m thankful to every person that has played a part in the journey and where I’ve got to.
“It’s definitely one of the most special achievements of my career that’s for sure.
“In terms of the cricket I’ve been allowed to play and within the associate environment, it probably is the highest accolade you could receive.
“I’ve not really thought much about that, but I guess that makes it more special, but I’m hugely grateful to everyone that has helped me and played their part.
“Hopefully I can inspire others with what I’ve done to achieve something similar.”
The ambition to compete with the best remains
At 36 years old, Coetzer is closer to end of his career than the start, but there is still plenty he wants to achieve with Scotland.
For associate sides, chances to face cricket’s top nations are limited, but – when opportunities allow – Coetzer wants the Saltires to show they can compete and beat full members.
The T20 World Cup in India in October and November of this year is another opportunity for Scotland to make their mark on the big stage.
Coetzer added: “When it comes to my ambitions, I’m still so driven to see Scotland perform well on the world stage.
“I hope Scotland can be one of the driving forces behind showcasing associate cricket and show that there is cricket below full member ICC status and show it’s competitive and associate sides will beat full members if they’re given enough opportunities.
“I listened to Adrian Birrell’s podcast with Qasim Sheikh (former Scotland cricketer) and he gave great insight into Ireland’s 2007 World Cup campaign when Adrian was coach.
“They went out to win every game and win the World Cup – that might sound very ambitious, but it’s a great attitude and they competed in every game bar one I think.
“I felt we competed in every game bar one in the 2015 World Cup and there’s no reason why we can’t compete in every game in the T20 World Cup this year and beyond.
“I’ve got real ambitions to keep playing, providing my body lets me do it, and hope to leave Scotland in a pretty powerful place.”
World Cup hopes
Coetzer is looking forward to the T20 World Cup, but for him the pinnacle of the sport for associate nations is the 50-over World Cup.
However, something that disappoints Coetzer is how limited the opportunities are for associate sides to play in World Cup.
The 2019 World Cup and the 2023 tournament – which Scotland hope to qualify for – is limited to just 10 sides.
In the 20-over game there are increased chances for sides like Scotland with 16 teams featuring in this year’s World Cup, but Coetzer doesn’t want 50-over international cricket to be a closed shop.
He said: “We want to qualify and play in World Cups and for me the 50-over World Cup is the pinnacle.
“So it’s really frustrating when the size of the 50-over World Cup keeps diminishing and the qualifying process is getting even harder.
“It’s crucifying because there are countries who are desperate to play to at World Cups and aspire to play on that stage.
“But when it’s reduced and a handful of teams get the chance, what progress does that show is possible for associate teams?
“I know T20 cricket is a driver that helps spread cricket around the world, but that doesn’t mean 50-over cricket needs to be minimised.”