GUS MACKAY was full of good intentions when he agreed to become Cricket Scotland’s new chief executive last October.

One target was to help Scotland further along the road to gaining full member status of the ICC, while another was to try to push the sport into the mainstream of sporting consciousness in a country dominated by football.

Just four months into his regime, however, and the Zimbabwean of Scots descent encountered what he colourfully describes as “a rather large speedhump” in the form of the coronavirus.

Those lofty long-term ambitions remain in place but for now the 52 year-old’s priorities are how to ensure Scottish cricket’s safe passage through a perilous period.

Mackay admits the game faces “real challenges” at recreational level, with a real possibility of no play at all this season due to social distancing and other health measures.

Clubs are expected to lose in the region of £500,000 between them as a result of a summer shutdown without bar takings and other income streams. Mackay just hopes that all of them can somehow survive it.

“There will be some clubs who will be absolutely fine and others who are going to struggle,” said the former Zimbabwean international. “We just have to keep an eye on those.

“We’re working with sportscotland and local authorities to see what can be done as we’re not blessed with finances to create hardship funds like we’ve seen in other sports.

“It’s about how clubs can mitigate some of that risk. Some of them have managed to get grants but for a lot of the others it’s the income that comes in during the season that keeps them going.

“It’s still week by week [on whether there will be any play this summer]. But until there’s vaccines and testing and the like it’s going to be hard. Social distancing is going to be around for a while so how do you put 22 players and two umpires onto a field in a safe environment?”


The picture is marginally more optimistic at elite level, although the governing body still stands to lose around £250,000 as a result of the crisis and has furloughed many of its staff as a result.

The inevitable cancellation of the planned home fixtures against the touring Australia and New Zealand sides next month will be a costly blow.

World Cricket League home fixtures in July in Glasgow and Edinburgh will also likely fall by the wayside, although Mackay is still hopeful the T20 World Cup in Australia in October will go ahead, even if it has to be played behind closed doors.

“I think international cricket has got a better chance [of returning] by creating sterile environments and things like that,” he added. “All signs are pointing towards having large amounts of people at sporting events being quite hard for the foreseeable future.

“One of the things I’m missing is live sport on TV so if we could find a way to produce an event that delivers both on broadcast revenue and sponsorship income then I think that would have to be considered.”

Eventually all of this will pass and Mackay will be able to get back to dealing with the opportunities and issues that were occupying him when he first arrived in Edinburgh seven months ago.

“None of this was in the job description when I started,” he admitted. “My book would be quite a good read at the moment! But I’ve been impressed with the commitment and passion from people throughout the game.

“There’s a genuine desire here in Scotland for cricket to become even bigger than it already is. And we’ll do that through international performances, beating more Full Members and performing on the world stage. There’s a lot of opportunity to explore once we get over this rather large speedhump in the road.

“Becoming a full member is one of our long-term targets as that’s a gamechanger financially. It’s going to be hard trying to push up against football but you have to cut your own meat. You have to market the game accordingly and find those people across all ages who want to be involved.”

Mackay’s CV includes stints working in cricket for Sussex, Leicestershire and Surrey, and in rugby with London Broncos and Worcester Warriors.

This is the most challenging time he can remember in all those years in sport but he remains confident even this will eventually pass.

“Sport has always been good to work in,” he adds. “It’s fairly recession-proof for the most part as even in the hardest times people have always turned out to watch sport. But we’re now in a situation where every single person you speak to is affected. It’s not ideal but we’ll get through it.”