Malcolm Cannon – Cricket Scotland CEO
“Personally, it was a great privilege for me to attend the tournament and a huge learning curve”
Malcolm Cannon isn’t the type of person to waste time in soul-searching when bigger priorities exist.
The chief executive of Cricket Scotland was as disappointed as anybody else by his country’s failure to reach the Super 10 stage of the World T20 in India, but he doesn’t see any point in Scots resorting to in-fighting and internecine warfare.
Instead, as he told CricIndex during a wide-ranging interview, the future for Scotland and the other Associate nations lies in “collaboration and cooperation – not schisms”.
But that doesn’t mean Cannon is happy with the current state of global cricket or didn’t share the frustration of his national captain, Preston Mommsen, who issued a heartfelt plea for fairer treatment for the sport’s emerging countries.
From the CEO’s perspective, it was a “privilege” for him to be in India, but he started out by setting the record straight on one or two complaints which have been labelled at the Scottish squad. Hearteningly, he didn’t make excuses.
“The conditions were very warm and the type of pitch was different from what we are used to, but we have trained on that type of track ahead of the tournament by playing not only in Dubai in late January, but also in other parts of India during a two-week warm-up phase,” said Cannon.
“As to whether they suited European teams, we shall see how England get on and how the European women get on in their games.
“Personally, it was a great privilege for me to attend the tournament and a huge learning curve not only about the game of cricket (which I am still learning day to day!) but also about international events and the challenges they bring.
“Scotland’s ‘non-qualification’ has no financial impact in the short-term. We went into the tournament ranked 11th in the world at T20 and have probably come out around the same….although it is difficult to compare after only three matches.
“Obviously, it would have been wonderful to qualify, but the financial upside is predominantly to the players and not to the organisation.
“What it would have brought is greater coverage, greater awareness of our standing on the world stage and greater potential for sponsorship funding.
“Plus of course, in the ICC scorecard, it might start to be reflected in greater funding from the centre.”
Cannon realises the limitations of the current Associate fixture list and how it impacts on the ability of Scotland, Ireland and their counterparts to make genuine strides forward at international level.
And he insisted that nothing was being ruled out, including some form of European League, similar to the Asia Cup format.
But, as you might have guessed, there are stumbling blocks. And a lack of hard cash.
“More matches will help enormously. It is what Scotland and other associates have been calling for for a long time and we have all shared this view with the ICC and cricketing public alike,” said Cannon.
“However, the current structure (Full Members v Associate Members) does not allow for this and hence the amount of ‘contextual cricket’ is limited to our Intercontinental Cup and World Cricket League fixtures, which are neither frequent enough nor do they pitch us against vastly better opposition.
“A European league would be a good idea – and it has been tried. Indeed, it was being tried again this year, with Scotland, the Netherlands and Ireland playing in a competitive league, particularly in T20 where we are probably ranked between the two teams just now.
“But financial pressures have meant the abandoning of the idea for now.”
One detected the problems which are the lot of any sports administrator where ambition transcends the ability to pay for it.
Yet Cannon isn’t fazed by the challenges in store. And he revealed the bones of some exciting plans for Mommsen and his men, who will tackle UAE at Mannofield in Aberdeen in the I-Cup and WCL in August.
“Personally, as someone new to the game and to the sports sector, I am hugely encouraged by the opportunities we have to grow the sport both globally and nationally,” said Cannon.
“This summer, in addition to the WCL and I-Cup, we are working with another two major countries to bring them to Scotland to play some cricket. Also, we have the chance of travelling to high-ranked countries to play a series against them this side of Christmas.
“I hope you understand that I won’t give details until they are nailed down, but as soon as they are, we shall share this with everyone to encourage as much coverage and attendance as possible.
“T20 has undoubtedly captured the imagination of the world and sits well with audiences of the better supported sports like football and rugby in the UK due to the high impact, excitement and speed of the game.
“It also allows ‘post-work’ matches, thus sitting better with the modern lifestyle. So, I definitely think T20 will feature more strongly in the future.
“The ICC are currently looking at (and debating at full board and committee) a change to their international programmes with more contextual cricket in all three formats which will allow much more opportunity to play more cricket with context.
“The outcome of this should be ready by the June Annual conference when the ICC come to Edinburgh for the first time ever.”
He will be there, replete with ideas. And this is one Cannon determined to make a big noise for the Associates.