Scotland's next World Cup win can't take another 21 games - Cannon
Malcolm Cannon, chief executive of Cricket Scotland, says that greater context in cricket, including a recently proposed 13-team ODI league, will enhance Scotland's competitiveness on the global stage. He says that his administration remains focused on trying to secure more of their own fixtures in the event that the proposal does not gain ratification.
"I think all the proposals that have come from the ICC in terms of their contextualising cricket, their proposals around ODI leagues and even their proposals around multi-day cricket are still very much in the melting pot," Cannon told ESPNcricinfo in a recent interview. "No decisions were made, lots of discussions were had and what I would say is that it's all very positive noise. It's all very encouraging in terms of them recognising the need for change.
"As regards to Scotland's opportunity to become that 13th team on a proposed 13-nation ODI league, we would like to think that we're in the vanguard, that we're in with a very strong case and a strong opportunity but I don't think we can take anything for granted. We've got to still continue to perform, to aim towards our qualification for various tournaments over the next few years as if this isn't going to happen and then hope that it does."
Scotland wrapped up their rain-affected four-day Intercontinental Cup match against UAE on Friday and will play two WCL Championship ODIs on August 14 and 16 in Edinburgh. Apart from these fixtures, which were guaranteed as part of the I-Cup and WCL Championship calendar, Scotland's summer slate featured two ODIs last month against Afghanistan - their first home ODIs in more than two years - with two more ODIs in September against Hong Kong. Though the home ODI fixture list is more than they had in 2015, it's still not ideal.
"It's difficult," Cannon said. "If you look at our summer this year, we've got six days of one-day cricket and a four-day I-Cup on home soil and that's it. Is that enough? No. However, that's life. We need to accept that it's life for this year and make sure that next year and the following years we have a fuller fixture list.
"In order to do that, we do need some cooperation from both the ICC, in terms of contextualising cricket, which is the dream, or with other nations recognising that Scotland are viable opposition and that we are credible and that we can compete on level terms with other nations, and then finding opportunities, because the Future Tours Programme has not many windows of opportunity. So we need to shoehorn ourselves into that in the future and then make sure that two, three, four years out, we are included in that fixture list because it is quite a long-term game."
While Scotland used to receive visits in the past from Full Members touring England - Australia and Pakistan both played ODIs in Edinburgh in 2013 - that pipeline has dried up in recent years with that regional Full Member interest shifting towards Ireland. After two ODIs earlier this summer against Sri Lanka, Ireland has two more scheduled this month against Pakistan while they have already announced home fixtures next summer against New Zealand, Bangladesh and West Indies, and a maiden ODI tour of England.
The last time Scotland played a Full Member at home was against England in 2014 and as of now nothing is on tap for 2017. Cannon points to Ireland and Afghanistan's place on the ODI rankings table for 2019 World Cup qualification as a mitigating factor and says those two countries have merited their opportunities through good performances.
"I think we all recognise that Ireland and Afghanistan deserve their elevated status," Cannon said. "They played very well two or three years ago and outplayed the rest of us. Wherever you draw a line in terms of additional funding, there's always those just below the line who will feel hard done by or feel they deserve recognition as well. I don't think that's what this is about and I think the ICC have some method behind their funding model at the moment which I think will be borne out in time."
How long that method takes to come to fruition requires a high level of patience, especially for the players. The frustration has been evident for Scotland's players who are eager to test themselves and improve as well. Though Ireland and Afghanistan may deserve their opportunities, the fact that Scotland and three other ODI Associates are not part of the ODI rankings table is hampering their ability to negotiate for games with Full Members.
"I think there's a lot to be said that the elevation in status has exacerbated the problem," Cannon said. "Preston [Mommsen]'s quotes and press conferences in India were supported not only by the rest of the Scottish contingent but many other nations there. It's a frustration but it's life. We need to make it work. We need to make sure that we do compete when we have the opportunity so that we're seen… as viable opposition for anyone including Full Members."
Regardless of whatever external opportunities may come forth from the ICC or elsewhere, Cannon says that the Scotland cricket community needs to focus on growing stronger from within. Specifically, he repeatedly spoke about "raising the noise levels" in Scottish cricket to get people excited about what does exist rather than dwell upon what is missing.
"Scotland is certainly ranked a lot higher and recognised as a greater force than I appreciated before I joined Cricket Scotland," says Cannon, who took up the role last September. "I think that's been one of the biggest lessons is I don't believe that the Scottish public and in particular the Scottish sporting public, recognise how powerful Scottish cricket is. I think we've got 230 years of history. We've got a great base in terms of our club structure and development pathways and I think we've got a right to perform on the world stage and we've got to accept these opportunities and make our name known not only on the world stage and with other international teams but in particular with our fans at home in Scotland."
"We need to recognise that this is a Scottish sport. It's as Scottish a sport as football is and we need to make sure that the Scottish public recognise that and get behind it. That means not only Scottish public but corporate Scotland as well and I think if we can become more self-sustaining, self-reliant, then I think that's another reason that our other funders - the Scottish government and the ICC - will look upon us favourably."
Streamlining the administration of Cricket Scotland has been a key task in Cannon's first year in the job. He says good governance is a pivotal factor in any group's ability to recruit and sustain both players to participate in development programmes as well as the sponsors to fund them, something that will be needed if Scotland are to achieve the organisation's strategic target to be a top-12 ODI team in both men's and women's cricket by 2019. Part of that is ensuring Scotland's next success at an ICC tournament doesn't take as long as their maiden victory took - 21 games dating back to the 1999 World Cup - against Hong Kong at the ICC World T20 in March.
"I think we've had our days in the sun, 21 opportunities on the world stage for causing an upset if you like and never having taken one until this March in India, I think doesn't do us credit," Cannon said. "We must make sure that the next win on a global stage is not another 21 games from now."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna