LAST Monday brought good and bad news for the Scotland men’s cricket team. They got the green light to return to training after a four-month absence just in time for their one remaining commitment of 2020 – the T20 World Cup in Australia – to fall by the wayside that same day.

They now find themselves able to congregate again on a daily basis at The Grange ground in Edinburgh – in smaller groups as per Covid regulations – but with nothing concrete to work towards.

A year that had at one point promised so much, including tantalising home matches against Australia and New Zealand, has now been completely wiped out as a result of the pandemic.

It says much for his stoic, get-on-with-it attitude, then, that Shane Burger is trying not to be too downbeat about the road ahead.

The South African-born head coach has remained in Edinburgh throughout lockdown, a period he admittedly found “massively frustrating” as opportunities for his players on the global stage fell one by one.

Now he is just pleased to be belatedly reunited with the group while remaining hopeful that Scotland’s steady emergence from the coronavirus will present opportunities for a busy winter overseas schedule.

“It was the right decision to postpone the World Cup,” he admitted. “When you go to a tournament like that you want to play in front of a crowd and have your players in as natural an environment as possible.

“So at the moment we’re just training again for the well-being of the players. In a weird sort of way, the restrictions have actually worked out well for us. We’ve been doing a lot of one-to-one stuff with players and I really see them really getting the benefit out of that.

“With the massive uncertainty of no competition at this stage, we’ll train for the next six weeks. After that we hope there will be a plan in place for fixtures.

“At the moment nobody can commit to anything due to a ban on international travel and other countries ramping up restrictions.

“Personally, I think Scotland is in as good a place as possible with regards to the virus. So maybe if we get out of this sooner than others it may allow us to travel as a team over the winter and get back playing again.

“The guys are craving competition. That’s what we’re all about. And then we really need a good plan for next summer to approach the World Cup in the best of shape.”

There have been envious glances cast across the border at the ongoing England versus West Indies Test series but Burger admits financially

that would have been impossible in Scotland.

“It’s great that they’ve been able to get some competitive cricket on even if there are no crowds there to see it.

“Financially they’ve got the capability to put something like that on given what it costs to create a bio-safe bubble. You just have to look at the tongue lashing Jofra Archer got for breaking that to see how precarious that is. They’ve got the money to do all the testing and unfortunately we don’t.

“The financial impact of Covid on the world has been huge and moved many groups into a very tough place. It will be interesting to see what happens in the sporting world over the next six months.”

Burger is already moving towards the midway point of the three-year contract he signed with Cricket Scotland in March 2019.

He hopes to get the opportunity to show in the second half of his deal that he merits an extension.

“Even with the pandemic, the tragic death of [former player] Con de Lange and a few other massive speed bumps like dealing with a change of staff and a new CEO, I’m really comfortable with the progress that we’ve seen from the players over that time,”

he added.

“The next year-and-a-half will all be about trying to get positive results and hopefully then you can remain in a system that also wants you to remain. I’m certainly enjoying my time here in Scotland and I’d love to see us do well, at least over the next 18 months but hopefully beyond that.”