A week after Scotland scaled new heights by becoming the first Associate team to beat the No. 1 ODI side in the world, a cold dose of reality has brought them back to earth. It comes in the form of the FTP schedule release through 2023. Scotland are nowhere to be found in that.
The paucity of fixtures and funding is nothing new for them. But it's something that coach Grant Bradburn hopes will be one of many areas that will be reconsidered by the ICC administrators going forward, ahead of next week's ICC annual conference in Dublin.
"It's incredibly sad to see that FTP come out," Bradburn told ESPNcricinfo. "We're fully aware that the FTP didn't just get drafted after our victory against England. Clearly it's been in the pipeline for some time. Our players hope that the statement that was made with the win against England, and the [wins over Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan] over the past 12 months, force the ICC into reviewing their investment and continuing to see value in their investments so far in the top Associates."
According to Bradburn, his players have come to grips with their failure to qualify for the 10-team World Cup in 2019. He also said that calls for Scotland and other Associates to get more opportunities should not be viewed as a knee-jerk reaction to their win over England but instead as a recognition of their consistent performances since the start of 2017 that has seen them beat four Full Members and tie a fifth in a T20I, against Ireland, during the recent tri-series.
As part of the T20I tri-series win, Scotland also notched two dominant wins over Netherlands. Netherlands are now guaranteed 24 ODIs against Full Members over the next three years in the FTP cycle and the ODI League while WCLC runners-up Scotland get none.
"Number one, we hope they review that decision for the 2023 World Cup," Bradburn said. "Number two, and most importantly for us, is that we do hope the ICC continue to invest in us.
"The campaign against England, Pakistan, Netherlands and Ireland, we framed it strategically. It's not a matter of chucking games in here or there. We would love the ICC to give us the ability to plan just like they do the Full Members by putting out the FTP schedule, which is great for them because they can now plan. Unfortunately, we don't have that luxury."
Unlike the funding distributed to Full Members, Scotland and other Associates have to pinch pennies on shoestring budgets to maximise their efforts both domestically and internationally. Cricket Scotland's core funding from the ICC as an ODI status Associate is US$1.5 million. However, Bradburn said they successfully appealed for a US$250,000 per year funding boost for 2017 and 2018, which enabled them to play more matches and improve their on-field performance, culminating in the win over England.
"That extra $250,000 enabled us to do extra things like the Desert T20 Challenge, like the tri-series that we've just been to in Holland and the preparation in Pretoria before the World Cup Qualifier and also the second trip to Dubai that we had in January before the World Cup Qualifier, which was just fantastic," Bradburn said. "It was excellent and appropriate preparation for us, and we feel we spent the money wisely. If we had the same or just a little bit more, we could do so much.
"What's on many of our minds is, 'Wow! Look what we've done with $250,000. Imagine if that was $500,000'. And that's not even a fraction of what the lowest Full Member receives on an annual basis, which is around $9 million per year. So for Cricket Scotland to receive more funding is an absolute must and we just hope that the ICC, when they gather around their table next week, have taken note of the performances and we hope that they are pleased with their investment and continue to see benefits in investing in the top Associates."
The last of Cricket Scotland's US$250,000 supplemental funding boost for 2018 was spent on the recent tri-series, meaning they have no more money to arrange bilateral fixtures with other Associates. It also means they are short of funds to access facilities they have invested in for the national team's training camps. Bradburn does not want to see all the momentum that Scotland have built up over the last year and a half go waste when qualification for the 2020 World T20 is just around the corner.
"We've got a great facility in La Manga, Spain that Ireland and ourselves have invested in but right at this point in time we can't afford to go there," Bradburn said. "We've only been there once in the last two years and it was just brilliant. It's such a great training base, a place where we develop our future Scotland internationals and also play games but we can't afford to go.
"As opposed to pleading for money every year, it would be nice for the ICC to turn around and say, 'Okay, here's a sum of money per year for the next four years. Go play in a programme that sees you guys continuing your rise toward Full Membership.' That would be brilliant. But right now we need to apply to the ICC through our chairman Tony Brian who has done a brilliant job pleading our case. We have to apply every time and we're hoping there might be an answer next week but that answer might not come until the next ICC meeting in October.
"At the moment, the best case scenario is that in the last quarter of this year we get confirmation of some funding and can put some cricket in place for November and December which prepares us for the start of 2019. Clearly T20 is going to become more important over the next couple of years with World Cups confirmed in 2020 and 2021. So we would love to be able to position ourselves to continue to get better at that format of the game especially and have a little more funding to continue to improve.