HE makes it sound like a prisoner chalking up the days on the prison wall until their release. Except in Shane Burger’s world, this particular purgatory is the length of time that has passed since the Scottish men’s cricket team last played a competitive match.

“It will just be good to get some international cricket under our belts again as it’s already been 400 days,” says the South African-born head coach. “It’s been so long and we’ve really missed it.”

On the day that we speak, 470 days had actually passed since a ball was last bowled in anger when Scotland travelled to Dubai and lost to the hosts in a World Cup League 2 match on December 15, 2019.

It had been a long year and the players at that time were no doubt looking forward to getting some rest. Little did they – or the rest of the world – know just how long that rest would turn out to be.

But it is a new year and the onset of spring and the vaccine bring with it fresh optimism. Burger has arrived back in Scotland after flying south for the winter to visit family and friends before serving the requisite quarantine in a London hotel.

His players are off furlough and training has resumed with a view to ending that competitive drought with a pair of ODIs (one day internationals) in the Netherlands next month.

Needless to say, everything is contingent on the virus but Burger is quietly optimistic.

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: Scotland women's cricket coach Mark Coles believes hiring first full-time boss shows desire to reach next level

“The boys came back off furlough on April 1 and we identified a six-week period where they’ll train three days a week,” he explained.

“We’ll also look to set up some bounce games internally or against counties just to get a bit of match practise.

“At the end of that we’re planning on having ODIs against the Netherlands that we’re still pushing ahead with, although with Covid-19 it’s hard to confirm anything too far in advance.

“After that we’ll look to build into a proper season with a regional series, World Cricket League 2 and then the big one at the end of the year, the T20 World Cup.

“We’re looking at this period and thinking it might be the only block where we can focus on training. Hopefully when the summer hits we can get in plenty of matches.”

Planning overseas trips was never straightforward but in this time of coronavirus there are added complications.

Like their football and rugby counterparts, however, the Scottish national cricket team should qualify for elite exemption following an overseas trip.

And for a governing body already feeling the pinch of a year of lost revenue, that will be hugely welcome.

“There’s likely to be a lot of chopping and changing of the fixture card just to get cricket on the go,” added Burger.

“Cricket Scotland has been trying really hard over the past year to achieve that without any success because of the virus.

HeraldScotland:

READ MORE: Hockey: Jen Wilson heaps praise on Scotland's women's side ahead of EuroHockey Championships

“We’ve had to get creative in planning our fixtures.

“That’s something we have to keep in our minds while trying to play as much cricket as we can.”

Big plans for last summer included the visit of Australia and New Zealand to the Grange for a number of matches.

Sri Lanka, Pakistan, New Zealand and India are all due to play in England this summer and the hope is one or more may be tempted to swing by Scotland at the start or end of their visit to the island.

“If we could get one of these teams to Edinburgh then that would be a great way to mark the return of cricket in Scotland,” enthused Burger.

“You look at last summer when we were due to play Australia and New Zealand off the back of beating England just two years previously. People would have been champing at the bit to be there. But hopefully those days will return soon.”

The big event of the year, however, is the delayed T20 World Cup now switched from Australia to India and set to start in October.

Scotland have already qualified and Burger admits everything is about building towards that.

“We want to make sure we do everything in our powers to have these players as ready as they can be to represent their country in a World Cup.

“We’re going to go there not just to take part but to play the best cricket that we can.”