SHANE BURGER will take his leave shortly at the end of a four-year tenure as Scotland head coach that has never been dull. Appointed in early 2019 to succeed Grant Bradburn who had masterminded the famous win over England the previous summer, Burger’s time in charge has taken in a global pandemic, two T20 World Cup appearances, and wins over full members Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Ireland and West Indies. Some of that was also achieved to the backdrop of one of the most seismic events to have hit Scottish sport for decades in the form of last year’s damning investigation into Cricket Scotland that found it to be institutionally flawed and racist.

Burger announced his squad yesterday for the forthcoming World Cricket League 2 series in Nepal after which he will head off for a new challenge as assistant coach and lead batting coach at Somerset CCC. He does so proud of what has been achieved over the past four years and optimistic that whoever follows him will start from a strong position.

“I leave at the end of February/beginning of March and that will be almost exactly four years to the day since I started,” said the South African. “I came into an environment that had been left in a pretty good place by the previous coach. The team had just beaten England and was poised to try to get their full membership status in the next 12 to 24 months. We were progressing nicely. And then Covid hit and that was a major spanner in the works.

“In terms of going to World Cups and beating full members, I’m incredibly proud of where the group has got to and the belief that has grown within them. It’s been a great journey to be a part of and I’ll look back with very fond memories in very challenging times.

“It’s now a wonderful opportunity for whoever is going to come over and take over if they’re willing to roll their sleeves up and take on some hard work.”

Given that window of opportunity it may seem a surprise that Burger has chosen to move on but he believes the timing is right, both for him and Scottish cricket.

“To be completely honest, I think four years with any team is probably the lifespan of a coach these days,” added the 40 year-old. “I feel for this group to move forward it requires fresh eyes and maybe a bit of new thinking given the circumstances of the organisation.

“I’ve been in a head coach role for near-on eight years and to shift into an assistant coaching role and head up a batting unit at Somerset will be a good opportunity for me to grow. And it might also open up one or two other opportunities around the world in T20 leagues.

“For my own development, for the organisation and everyone else affected it’s good timing. This chapter of my life in Scottish cricket comes to an end but I don’t feel like the relationship will. Cricket is a very small place and wherever you go there will always be familiar faces. I hope I can go down there and create a new story at Somerset. They’ve never won a county championship but who knows. Watch this space.”

The ramifications of the Changing the Boundaries report into racism continue to be felt to this day as Cricket Scotland, steered by sportscotland, continue to work through their set objectives. Implementing all the necessary measures comes at a cost, with this year’s budget down almost a third on last year. Cost savings will need to be made, all of which will impinge on the long-term goal of attaining full membership of the ICC [International Cricket Council].

“I know the organisation still has a vision to become a full member and that’s always got to be the key goal,” added Burger. “But we know that a lot has to improve behind the scenes in terms of the governance and the day-to-day running of the organisation for that to happen.

“They’ll need people in there with one eye on the bigger picture and just where Scottish cricket might go and where it should be. I’m a firm believer that Scottish cricket, just based on performances on the field, warrants full membership. But there are a few other boxes that need to be ticked first. like ensuring the women’s game is healthy and regional cricket is progressing, and getting sponsors and others who are willing to come on board and be a part of that journey.

“We need to get those relevant resources to take it to another level while also engaging the whole Scottish cricket community to make sure the game is still growing, getting more cricket into schools and making the game more mainstream. That’s probably going to be the biggest barrier that we have to overcome in this country if we want to see cricket growing. That has to be key for me.”