No financial rewards for being a professional cricketer in Scotland: Former skipper Kyle Coetzer

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No financial rewards for being a professional cricketer in Scotland: Former skipper Kyle Coetzer
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“It definitely wasn’t, ‘Don’t bowl slot’,” says Kyle Coetzer.

The former Scotland T20 captain was referring to his successor Mark Watt’s antics vs West Indies in their Round 1 opener at the T20 World Cup. In the eighth over of Scotland’s defence of 160, Watt checked the notes on a piece of paper, bowled a 24-yarder delivery, and knocked Brandon King’s stumps.

Speaking to the Indian Express a day later, Coetzer says, “Mark does that. He does his preparation that way. That’s something he has been doing for a number of years now. He’s got a number of deliveries, which he’s worked on and that’s one because it just changes the pace and the trajectory of the ball and you can see it’s had its impact.”

He then adds, “The other thing to consider with Mark’s variation is…..look we’re obviously a developing nation and our pool of players is a lot smaller than say Sri Lanka or India. It’s not like Mark’s a mystery bowler. He’s just a good, skilful bowler who knows his job. So, you’re trying to give players as many options as possible to create variations.”

A segue into the larger chat, the state of the game in Scotland. Having defeated Bangladesh and now West Indies in their first game of back-to-back T20 World Cups, Scotland have upped the volume of discussions around associate nations. To assess where they are and where they are headed, the captain who led them at last year’s World Cup laid down a picture.

“To be a professional cricketer in Scotland, financially, the rewards are not there,” he says.

“There’s a lot of structural development in terms of the A team, U19s, and the women’s game as well. But it all comes down to how much budget they have and how many games they can play. Since the last World Cup, the team has only played two T20Is. This year, there were zero A team games until the last month of the season because there wasn’t any budget for it. They played only two warm-up games against Nepal and Namibia, but that was because they were in the country.”

With players not able to feature at the international or A-team level on a consistent basis, the inevitable glance at the franchise leagues follows. Even if necessary, it isn’t a straightforward path for an aspiring, talented cricketer in Scotland to land offers in the cash-rich T20 leagues of the world.

Scotland team members during their T20 World Cup qualifying match against West Indies. (AP)

“It’s really important for players to try and find roots and avenues into T20 leagues and that is what I’ve been explaining to Cricket Scotland over the last couple of years,” adds Coetzer, who announced his retirement from T20Is back in July.

“There’s enough to make young players, who are living at home, to be professionals. That’s okay. But for people who have moved into senior cricket and are slightly older, the mid-20s and up, and are looking to have families and develop further, the money is not there for them. So the only way it can be sustainable is if they pick one or two tournaments a year. If they don’t, it’s just a constant struggle. To pay your rent. Where are you going to live? How are you going to feed yourself?”

Splitting the pie, opening up the game

Post Scotland’s win over two-time champions the Windies and also referring to Namibia’s result over Sri Lanka from day one at the World Cup, Coetzer had tweeted, “It seems the skill gaps are narrowing despite the widening of the gaps for fair opportunity & funding! Time to split the pie a bit more? @ICC.”

When asked about his sentiment around it, he says, “I just think it’s an obvious thing that needs to happen in my opinion. There’s so much talent, and so much improvement already going on at shoestring budgets if we’re completely honest. Even a small share of the millions that are going around is going to make a huge difference to a lot of countries. There are also teams below, in the lower divisions from where Scotland and Namibia are playing, which are also trying to grow.”

Despite their wins against full-time members, who play a lot more matches around the year, it is hard to look past the structure of Round 1 in the T20 World Cup. And the players certainly talk about it.

“They are playing preliminary qualifying rounds,” Coetzer says. So much is riding on the line in the qualifying round, that it takes a lot out of you. We beat Bangladesh and then in the next game we beat PNG, but because of run rate, if we’d lost to Oman, they would’ve still gone through as they had defeated PNG quite big.”

The 38-year-old says, “The first-round matches are at different venues as well. So we prepared to play in Oman, all our fixtures were there and then the next fixtures were on different grounds in UAE. We’re not saying that as an excuse, it’s just part of the argument.”





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