Coetzer renews Scotland plea for more opportunities
On May 21, Scotland's home season began in momentous fashion with a seven-wicket demolition of Sri Lanka. On June 15, they secured another famous win, beating Zimbabwe by 26 runs. Now, after just 10 scheduled days of cricket, it's all been wrapped up.
"We play 10 days of cricket and that's our season over. Where are we meant to go?" Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer told ESPNcricinfo. "It's just the frustration. We feel we're playing good cricket. We just want to play more cricket. Ten days of cricket in our season just isn't enough, clearly.
"So we need to find ways around that. I guess we need some support too, to make sure we can get those extra fixtures. Fair play to Zimbabwe coming here and playing us in a couple of games. They like the idea of playing cricket and so do we, so we need to try and do that a bit more often."
One of the main legislative points of this week's ICC annual conference is to determine whether Ireland and Afghanistan, the two preeminent Associates, should be granted Test status. Along with the right to play five-day matches, the increased funding and fixture opportunities are of great significance to up and coming teams.
Scotland, however, are starting to get left behind. They are one of six Associates with ODI status, but lack a place on the 12-team World Cup qualification rankings table. While there is traditional lip service during World Cups about getting more games arranged for Associates against Full Members, Scotland's series against Zimbabwe comprised their first ODIs against Full Members since the 2015 World Cup.
Even with such limited opportunities, Coetzer said his side showed against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe that they are on the rise. "I think it's pretty clear to see that the gap is getting closer and closer. Obviously on our behalf, having won the two games we have throughout this ten-day period is pretty massive for us. We need to be playing more cricket, it's as simple as that."
There is a chance that Zimbabwe Cricket might invite Scotland over for a reciprocal tour in the coming months. The team's captain Graeme Cremer said as much after a series-levelling six-wicket victory on Saturday. "We've enjoyed Scotland, the people are great here and they've looked after us. We'd love to come back here. We're looking to have them later on in the year come to us. So that would be good if we can form that relationship with them because they play tough cricket. We know that and it's good to have opposition that gives you a tough time."
This series, in addition to helping Zimbabwe build up to a tour of Sri Lanka starting June 30, was also a chance to get accustomed to conditions considering Scotland and Ireland have jointly bid for the rights to host the 2018 World Cup Qualifier in April. Likewise, Scotland would also benefit from an advance series in Zimbabwe should the qualifying tournament be held there.
"We knew with us coming here, we need to assess conditions in case we do play [the 2018 Qualifier] here," Cremer said. "We're hoping we'll get the bid and have it in our home country but that's not up to us. It's nice to come and see what you might be up against and we might meet Scotland in a crucial game in the Qualifiers so it's good to play these teams and know what we're up against."
Meanwhile, Netherlands - who host Zimbabwe for three ODIs this week - sit three points clear of Scotland on the WCL Championship table. The winner of that competition is expected to be the 13th team in the proposed ODI League to be used to determine the teams that play the 2023 World Cup.
"After beating Namibia and then Namibia coming back and beating us, it's clear to see that gap [at the lower end] is even closer too," Coetzer said. "Namibia came over with a very strong team having lost in the final of the Cricket South Africa [provincial] competition. So they're not a bad team at all. They're a good cricket team and there are a lot of good cricket teams in that WCL.
"For us, looking at the situation where we are at the moment, we've lost two games. That's all we've lost in the WCL so far: played 10, lost two. Where we sit is where we sit. You can't expect sides to go out and win every single one of their games. How is that meant to happen?
"But what we do know is that we need to play more cricket. We need more fixtures like this [against Zimbabwe] and more of an even share of some of that money that's going around because that will help us go a long way, help us keep our players in the game as long as possible."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna