Kyle Coetzer will be leading Scotland in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers
Kyle Coetzer will be leading Scotland in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers

It is rare for a player of the losing side to win a Man of the Match award. Remember Kyle Coetzer s 156 in the 2015 World Cup? In what was one of the finest knocks played in the tournament, Scotland had put up 318 for 8 in 50 overs against Bangladesh at Nelson. Coetzer s 134 had given Scotland a chance to turn the tides and register their first ever World Cup win. That was not to be. Bangladesh chased down the score in the penultimate over. Despite 4 half-centuries from the Bangladesh camp, Coetzer walked away with the Man of the Match award.

Coetzer will be leading Scotland in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers that starts this month in Zimbabwe. He has an enviable ODI record, averaging over 43, with a strike rate of over 88. It goes without saying the importance of Coetzer s form if Scotland are to make it to the 2019 World Cup.

Scotland are placed in a tough group in the World Cup Qualifiers, alongside Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Nepal and hosts Zimbabwe. CricketCountry had caught up with the Scottish skipper during the Hong Kong T20 Blitz, who highlighted on his form, Scotland s preparation and the plights of Associate Nation cricket.

CricketCountry (CC): You had good outing in Dubai [a tri-nation tournament involving Ireland and hosts UAE]. How has team prepared for the World Cup Qualifiers next month?

Kyle Coetzer (KC): The guys have worked hard at home. I have kept in touch with them [from Hong Kong] and I see the group messages. We recently played some good cricket in Dubai. The guys are back home but unfortunately that means going back inside [indoor practice]. They have been doing everything they can. It s just too cold outside.

CC: Is that one of the challenges Associate Nations often face?

KC: The environment we, Associate Nations, have is challenging. For example, we cannot prepare ourselves outdoors. But the guys are doing whatever they can and have become experts in preparing indoors. It is important to us to enter the competition prepared when it starts.

It is too cold and too wet and you can t prepare any surfaces outside, but our coach is very good at thinking out of the box. These days we practise on hockey Astroturf. He is always finding ways to challenge us and that is the key ingredient to improve your cricket rather than just accepting the weather fact. You have to train your mind, train your game and test yourself all the time.

CC: Scotland played the World in 1999 and 2007. They have been in the scene longer than Afghanistan, who have now got Test status. Why couldn t Scotland replicate the same despite its proximity to a powerhouse like England?

KC: Very true. Afghanistan s rise has really been sensational. The players they have produced are exceptional. Some top players are playing the BBL and IPL. Why shouldn t they? There are several other quality Associate players too, including in Scotland. Getting exposure is the hardest part. Each side has different challenges. Afghanistan have theirs and we have ours. But it is about embracing that and trying to get through.

For us it is very hard to hold on to our experienced players. The financial reason is the main factor. Cricketers take up jobs and explore other avenues before reaching the age when they start thinking whether this is really their career. It s hard. Preston Mommsen is the latest example. He was at his prime of his career but he took up a job. We can t complain about that. Our challenge is to produce quality cricketers as fast as we can.


Mommsen led Scotland in the 2015 World Cup and 2016 World T20. Considered amongst the fittest and most dedicated of all Associate cricketers, he retired at the age of 29. He had slammed 111* and 80* in Scotland s 2-0 win over UAE in August 2016.

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 had told ESPNCricinfo after retirement.

That we haven t played since the 2015 World Cup, a single Full-Member ODI, that just makes me feel sick, really. 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] that I m not able to capitalise on that at this time because of the lack of actually playing.

Mommsen s LinkedIn profile lists him as a Property Buyer at Grant Property Investment at Edinburgh. He returned to cricket in 2017 for a short while only to go back to the attractive opportunity in the corporate world .


CC: Do all of the Scottish cricketers have a day job or there is a central contract?

KC: Not all of them. A few are studying. A few are just professional players and then there are a few like myself who work and play at same time.

We have 11 full-time contracts including myself. There are some guys at the university with the contract and there are some working alongside as the money in the game isn t enough to get by. But we are lucky to have what we have because few years back we did not have any of that. Some guys are fortunate that they are able to study and a have side income at the same time.

Look, these are challenges we have got to embrace. It s not the end of the world. It s not doomsday. We have what we have and we have to make that work. The coaches and support staff are doing an excellent job.

CC: Mommsen has cited about lack of matches Associates play against quality sides. What s your view on the current scenario?

KC: I think it is pretty obvious. We want to be challenged as much as possible. Going back to the 2015 World Cup or the 2016 World T20 in India, we played some good games. Recently we have beaten Zimbabwe, and have beaten Sri Lanka convincingly with many overs to spare. We are capable of beating full members, just like the Dutch, who have done it in the past and Ireland and Afghanistan, and pushed up the ranks, deservingly so.

To increase and improve cricket, it is important to broaden it and give more teams opportunities and we have to keep pushing for it and making count the opportunities.


On May 21, 2017, before the start of the Champions Trophy, Sri Lanka had squared off against Scotland in a 50-over match at Beckenham. The Sri Lankan side boasted their stars like Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga, Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews, and Thisara Perera. In fact, they fielded a full-strength side and got to 287. Scotland openers Coetzer (118 in 84 balls) and Matthew Cross (106*) put up a 201-run opening stand. Scotland finished the chase in 43rd over. The match may be of little significance and little remembered but for Scotland cricket, it meant confidence and belief.

Less than a month later, the cricket world was engulfed in the Champions Trophy. Not far away, in Edinburgh, Scotland met Zimbabwe in an ODI for the first time. Coetzer went on to score 109 off 101 balls to guide Scotland to 317 for 6. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 272 in the 42nd over. Coetzer s performance was judged the Associate Batting Performance of the Year in ESPNCricinfo Awards 2017, beating Mohammad Nabi s 89 and Paul Stirling s 99.


CC: You are the key batsman for Scotland. You scored a hundred against Hong Kong Island United in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz. Take us through that innings.

KC: Quite proud (to get my first hundred in any T20s). Good to have so many international players in the Blitz. Mohammad Irfan gave me a wakeup call hitting my ribs but the knock came off well.

Having played the Hong Kong T20 Blitz is a wonderful experience. I feel I am at the top of my game. Like I mentioned, exposure is the key. I am thankful to City Kaitak for all their support and getting the stage.


The hundred that Coetzer got at Mong Kok last month was his first in any T20s. Coetzer, the second-highest run-getter in the tournament last year (254 runs at 50.8 and at a strike rate of 157), continued his love affair with the tournament.

Scotland have played 2 warm-up matches for the World Cup Qualifers. They won handsomely against Papua New Guinea and went on to lose a closely fought contest against Ireland. Coetzer, who slammed a 23-ball 46 against PNG, managed just 5 against Ireland. Scotland will open their campaign in the tournament against Afghanistan at Bulawayo Athletic Club on Sunday.