2007 Review - Scotland December 23, 2007

Cash and commitment remain the issues

Will Luke looks at how Scotland fared in 2007

Scotland's Majid Haq is ecstatic after removing Matthew Hayden during Scotland's World Cup match against Australia © Getty Images
Scotland's year began promisingly with a good performance in the World Cricket League, the Associate's showcase event. They entered the tournament in poor form, but turned things around quickly and were a surprise package with the bat. They lost in the final to Kenya, skittled for 155, but gained the not-to-be-sniffed at bonus prize of qualifying for the Twenty20 World Championship.

The qualification also handed Scotland $250,000 and, just prior to the World Cup, sportscotland, the country's agency for sport, gifted another much-needed windfall of £336,300. On the face of it this was a boon for Scottish cricket, but inevitably the money was quickly swallowed up by Cricket Scotland's need to pay the players' salaries when on leave from their full-time jobs.

Scotland's coffers aren't the only problem they face. Like Ireland, they are struggling to retain home-grown players who are lured by English counties who can promise a healthy salary and a full-time profession as a cricketer. Kyle Coetzer, a talented right-handed batsman who signed for Durham, put county ahead of country when he turned down the chance to represent Scotland against Pakistan at Edinburgh in July. Unless a solution is found for funding Associates' development, more players will follow Coetzer's lead.

After losing all three of their matches in the World Cup and gaining precisely nothing from the tournament, they lost their captain, Craig Wright, and later Peter Drinnen, the coach, who was in effect forced out by senior players. This is a worrying trend. Andy Moles fell to a similar whispering campaign in January 2006 and, like Drinnen, failed to receive support from the board. Politics affects all cricket, big and small.

On the pitch, Scotland's performances remained inconsistent - walloping Netherlands by an innings-and-59 runs in the ICC Intercontinental Cup in August but out-batted by Ireland the following week. Inconsistency is the theme of their year, and only once the politics of the boardroom is settled will that change on the pitch going into 2008.

New man on the block
It feels as though Majid Haq has been an unfulfilled promise for a long time, but he's still only 24 and has a lot to offer with bat and ball. He dismissed Matthew Hayden and bowled Michael Clarke in Scotland's World Cup match against Australia before shining with 4 for 28 against West Indies at Dublin in July.

Fading star
Craig Wright is not the force he once was, and hung up his captaincy boots following Scotland's poor World Cup. He has made no secret of his ambition to move into coaching, though ruled himself out of contention for the top job citing his own inexperience.

High point
Neil McCallum and Ryan Watson's 240-run stand in Scotland's thumping win over Netherlands in the ICC Intercontinental Cup. The record stand led Scotland to 452 before they knocked Netherlands over for 255 and 138 to win by an innings.

Low point
Scotland's World Cup campaign was disappointing enough, but the way Cricket Scotland handled Peter Drinnen's departure leaves a sour taste. Player power (and a conflict of characters) has accounted for their last two coaches, and Peter Steindl has a tough task on his hands - on and off the pitch.

What does 2008 hold?
Much of the same and they urgently need to find some fast bowlers. But there is cause for hope with the elevation of Steindl and the poaching of Adrian Birrell, the coach who turned Ireland into such a slick unit. They are also due to play England for the countries' first one-dayer in Edinburgh on August 18, which is expected to attract a sell-out crowd of 6000.

Scotland in 2007
Matches Won Lost Drawn/NR
ODIs 17 6 10 1
Twenty20 2 1 0 1
Intercontinental Cup 3 1 0 2

Will Luke is a staff writer at Cricinfo