Capitalising on the exposure of the Scotland cricket team at the T20 World Cup is a pressing matter for the game’s governing bodies.
Scotland earned plaudits for their performances in the group stage of the tournament, winning all three games, but found the Super 12 a step too far.
But with all games being televised on Sky Sports and column inches dedicated to covering their progress, a new generation of cricket fan in Scotland have been able to see their nation perform on the biggest stage.
‘Bold and brave’ plans
Skipper Kyle Coetzer has repeatedly referred to Cricket Scotland being “bold and brave” with their future plans to ensure this opportunity is not lost.
Making the Super 12 gave Scotland a place at the next T20 World Cup in Australia in 2022, giving another end-goal to aim for.
Colin Smith, the former Scotland and Aberdeenshire wicket-keeper, believes attracting the major test-playing nations to these shores is “paramount” for Scottish cricket.
“That’s always been the case,” said Smith. “As an organisation, they’ve got a product to sell and need to make money. Without money, they can’t grow the game.
“They need games, but unless the ICC gives them, then it’s not going to happen. You can organise games against associate nations, but you don’t really make any money out of associate cricket.
“We need to be playing Test nations, so people come and watch and they can sell TV rights. You need that regularly – it’s been too itty-bitty.
“It’s fortunate the next World Cup is next year, so you would expect we’d be given fixtures.”
‘Keep pushing for Test status’
Smith, who represented Scotland 182 times between 1999 and 2009, raised the notion of sides touring England next year coming north of the border to play an ODI or T20 series.
New Zealand, India and South Africa are all due to tour England in 2022, which would provide the high-calibre opposition Scotland crave.
“That should be happening every year,” added Smith. “That’s why it’s important Scotland keep pushing for Test status.”
Defeat to Pakistan on Sunday ended Scotland’s campaign with five defeats from five in the Super 12, although Smith feels they were handed the tougher draw out of the two potential groups.
Pakistan and Afghanistan, two teams who recorded comfortable victories over the Saltires, have played a significant amount of cricket in the United Arab Emirates in recent years, with both sides’ deploying impressive spin options.
The step up in class cannot be underestimated either.
‘Chalk and cheese’
Scotland had been used to be facing associate nations and, bar the surprise win over Bangladesh, had not first a full-member nation this year.
“It’s total chalk and cheese,” said Smith, who represented Scotland at the T20 World Cups in 2007 and 2009 and the 50-over equivalent in 2007. “At associate level you’re facing guys that maybe bowl at 70-80mph. Guys at the next level bowl at 90mph and you don’t adjust straight away.
To everyone that has taken this ride with us 👏
We are just getting started 👇 pic.twitter.com/vY4EscWxUL
— Cricket Scotland (@CricketScotland) November 7, 2021
“In our day we were playing a lot of county cricket and you played against overseas players, who were bowling at that speed. The spinners over there are different class too, who guys won’t have faced before.
“They needed the key batsmen to perform and that hasn’t happened. In most games, they’ve been out of it by six overs and the only ones they weren’t were New Zealand and Pakistan.
“But the beauty of it is they have got into the one next year, because of their success. They’ve got that experience and now have a year to prepare.
“I just hope they get the fixtures to help them.”
As a former keeper himself, Smith has been heartened by the development of Matthew Cross, who succeeded him behind the stumps at Aberdeenshire and has become an international regular for his country.
“His keeping is very good, he’s come on leaps and bounds,” he said. “He’s been in great form with the bat in club cricket, too. I’m proud of the wee boy.
“We crossed over in the first-team (at Aberdeenshire). I retired from internationals in 2009 and Matty took the gloves while I was at the World Cup. I knew then he would play for Scotland.”