Preston Mommsen has said the dearth of fixtures in Scotland's cricket calendar was a key factor in his retiring at the age of 29. The former captain also called for cricket administrators to create a more equitable schedule so that other players don't end up walking away before their time too.
"What was there on a day-to-day basis to keep me motivated and keep me driven to want to keep going in the game? I was spending far more time on the training pitch and the nets and the gym than I was in between the stumps. As a professional cricketer, that was very frustrating," Mommsen told ESPNcricinfo in a recent interview. "As with any job in whatever line of work you're in, you need to have that sort of carrot there that motivates you. You need to have that structure.
"In the last 12 months, certainly, that's not been there, and unfortunately, that has made my decision easier. I can't see that pathway for me over the next 12-18 months that can keep me in and drive me forward."
Mommsen led Scotland at the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 World T20 in India, where they secured their first win at a major ICC tournament. However, Scotland have not played an ODI against a Full Member since March 2015 against Australia at the 2015 World Cup. Going further back, they had played only four ODIs with Full Members between the 2011 and 2015 World Cups.
"That we haven't played, since the 2015 World Cup, a single Full Member ODI, that just makes me feel sick, really," Mommsen said. "For us, going to the 2015 World Cup was a massive turning point in Scotland's development and we performed respectably, and you would think that would be the platform for us to kick on and make use of that experience. But there's not been the infrastructure that has allowed us to do that.
"For me, at this age, at 27, 28, 29, when you've learnt your game far better than when you had done when you were 22 or 23, you want to be playing as much as possible to maximise all the skills that you have learnt. So that has obviously come into [the decision to retire], that I'm not able to capitalise on that at this time because of the lack of actually playing."
At a time when they were struggling for matches, Mommsen wanted Associate teams to play each other as often as possible and that this was more important than asking for a greater share of the ICC revenues.
"Yes, I think it's important that Associates are put up against Full Members, but I don't think that's the only cricket that they should be waiting to play," he said. "I think it's vital that they're getting that number of days of cricket in the year so that they are able to experiment, try different things, grow as a team and as individuals so that every time they do come around to playing that Full Member, they are in a far better position.
"Waiting every four years to play a Full Member is not the answer either, which is another one of my issues, what happens in between the World Cups. When you're not being exposed to Full Members in between World Cups, and then you go to a World Cup and you're expected to perform and you don't, then it's easy to point at the Associates and say, 'You don't belong here.'"
Earlier this summer, Mommsen scored his 1000th ODI run - one of only five Scotland batsmen to do so - and talked about wanting to become the first to reach 2000-mark for his country. But all the empty space in the calendar made him wonder if that was a realistic pursuit. His final match came against Hong Kong in September.
From January next year, Mommsen will begin work as a buyer for Edinburgh-based property management firm Grant Property Investments. He chanced upon the job while searching for work experience to complement his Bachelor of Science degree in property development and valuation at Edinburgh Napier University.
"Having all that vacant time has forced me to think about things, to gain different perspectives, and ultimately, I went exploring," Mommsen said. "I met as many people as I could to try to get some work experience. That was my initial plan, to try and get some work experience while there was quite a bit of down time, I thought I might as well make use of that. I met the owner of a very good company, and as it happened, she got back to me and said there was an opening, and she thought I'd be great for the role."
Mommsen said the chance to represent Scotland was what he would miss the most about cricket, and hoped he would be remembered for his achievements on the field rather than the sudden nature of his retirement. He added he was at peace with his decision, and there was nothing that could make him reconsider.
"From my experiences and being exposed to Associate cricket and Full Member cricket, I can see so much potential in the Associates and it just frustrates me that other people don't see that as an opportunity for the game to grow," Mommsen said. "I think it's been pleasing that the responses I've had, 90% of them are regarding my efforts for Scotland on the pitch, off the pitch and as a leader, which is hugely satisfying.
"I'm very grateful for those messages and it makes me very happy that people have recognised that I've given a huge amount to Scottish cricket, and I hope to do so in future from an off-the-field point of view. But, of course, people have also recognised the fact that I have spoken out, and me doing this is, I guess, a form of speaking out. But, hopefully, I will be remembered for what I did on the field when representing Scotland."