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Five years on, the heartbreak continues for Scotland

Last updated on 07 Jul 2023 | 12:02 PM
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Five years on, the heartbreak continues for Scotland

In a chat with, former captain Kyle Coetzer looks back at Scotland’s World Cup Qualifiers and the road ahead for Richie Berrington and his team

In the lead-up to the World Cup Qualifiers, the narrative around Scotland was whether they could bury the ghost of 2018. They came agonisingly close, but in the end, they ended their campaign with yet another heartbreak.

Richie Berrington, the current captain, was on the receiving end of a howler in the 2018 Qualifier match against the West Indies. 

Despite that, Scotland could have still chased down the modest total set by the West Indies, but rain intervened, and Berrington’s wicket proved to be costly as they finished five runs short on DLS. With no DRS for the tournament, Scotland were robbed off a place in the mega event in England.

The ICC rectified introducing the review system in this edition. 

“You would’ve loved a DRS in 2018, wouldn’t you?” I asked former Scotland skipper Kyle Coetzer, further rubbing salt into his wounds, but he insists the team has moved on ever since.

Since then, Scotland have come a long way where they have beaten teams like West Indies and Bangladesh in T20 World Cups. However, playing another 50-over World Cup seems to be a dream which seems to be just out of reach at the moment.

“It was my ultimate goal to try and make one more [ODI] World Cup. With COVID, and delays associated with it, my life needed to move on,” Coetzer, who took up a job as an assistant coach for Northern Diamonds, said in a chat with

“That’s the decision I made and I’m very fortunate to be in the position that I am.”

Speaking of the team’s performance in the Qualifiers, Coetzer said,” The Dutch and the Scottish teams to reach where they were at probably punching above their weight in terms of standings and where they are in the world, in terms of rankings and what not.

“If they had reached the World Cup among those field of teams, it probably would have been the greatest achievement ever, I would have said as an associate team. Well done to the Dutch for getting over the line, but I’m absolutely gutted for the Scottish side. To get to where they had in itself was a great achievement.”

They did everything that was expected of them in the tournament, but at the final hurdle, they ran into a rampant Netherlands side, who are no strangers to chasing down massive targets in curtailed overs.While Bas de Leede produced one of the best all-round performances, Scotland had plenty of positives to draw.

“Some huge positives. Beating Zimbabwe was a huge game because they have been a side in good form over the last couple of years. Packed full of dangerous players - Sikandar Raza, who is one of the best players in the world at the moment, Sean Williams leading run-scorer in the competition.”

“There are a lot of good things happening to Zimbabwe cricket at the moment, they’ll be absolutely gutted, just the same as the Scottish side right now. The likes of Brandon McMullen he is putting in some outstanding performances. In fact, the whole way through the tournament, someone kept putting his hand up to win the games, to get Scotland to the stage they had to.

“They hadn’t played their best cricket the whole way through, they were lucky to get over the line in a few of the early games. You got captain Berrington who also scored a hundred and played a couple of fine knocks. Then Michael Leask and Mark Watt, in terms of batting, they kept building scores. Chris Greaves with the ball, picking up a fifer. Then you look at Chris Sole in the Zimbabwe game was crucial to that victory. So many good moments.”

Before 2019, you have to go all the way back to 1992 for the last time when neither Scotland nor Netherlands were part of the World Cup – a nine-team event back then. Since then, the World Cup has seen at least 14 teams play at the mega event before it was reduced to 10 teams in 2019 and 2023.

The good news for many nations is that the 2027 edition will once again see as many as 14 teams participate. The fact that the 50-over World Cup is now just a 10-team does not sit well with the larger section. Coetzer believes adding four more teams in 2027 does very little to teams who have heartbreaks in the Qualifiers this time around.

“You want to be growing opportunities, not shrinking them,” Coetzer said.

“That also doesn’t solve the heartache for the teams missing out now. Some people will never get a chance to play at a World Cup. Look at the quality of this event. High-pressure add a lot on the line. I don’t know about other teams, I know that the Scottish team has no ODIs scheduled. I’ve been in that boat and I know that frustration. I feel for the players right now. I feel for Zimbabwe, I feel for West Indies, Oman, all these teams who have progressed so far.”

The Netherlands were the guinea pigs of the first-ever ODI Super League. It gave them an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the top sides like Pakistan, New Zealand, West Indies and others. However, it was scrapped after just one edition.

Scotland, who won the CWC League 2 – where each of the seven sides participating played 36 ODI matches across a couple of years, earned the right to play in the Super League, where they too, would have had similar chances as the Dutch did. With the Super League scrapped after the first cycle, Scotland, Netherlands, and the other six associate teams will be back to playing in League 2, with little to no chance of playing against the more established sides.

While admitting that League 2 is an excellent competition, Coetzer, who lifted the League 2 title with Scotland earlier this year in Nepal, believes it is still a separation from the rest of the teams. To rectify it, he has called for a promotion-relegation sort of system that we are accustomed to seeing in the football leagues, keeping those teams below League 2 also to be involved in some way.

While this Qualifiers was a terrific opportunity for Berrington, 36, to right the wrongs of 2018, it, unfortunately, wasn’t to be. Coetzer, though, remains hopeful that his former teammate can push himself to play another World Cup.

“He has certainly got the skill and determination to carry on. He is an ultimate pro, he does everything the right way, he works hard, he’s probably fit as he has ever been. He has led the team very well in a very tough competition. He will be distraught right now," Coetzer said.

“There are a lot of players who have been led well by him and were desperate to get over the line. He hasn’t got as much time as some of the others to make a couple more World Cups but he has certainly got in the tank to make at least one more.”

While Berrington may or may not be around for 2027, he certainly has a shot at glory at the 2024 T20 World Cup. While his side may have to deal with the dejection of not making the World Cup later this year, they could have better things lined up in the near future.

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