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October 20, 2021

Shane Burger

Muscat , Oman

Oman Cricket Academy Ground


Pre Match Media Conference

Q. You're qualifying for group on the world's biggest stage. How big would this be for Scottish cricket progressing to the second stage of T20 World Cup, the significance of this?

SHANE BURGER: The magnitude of the game is tremendous, not in terms of the bigger picture, not just for Scottish cricket, but associate cricket. I think there's going to be many associates that will show in this World Cup that they're closing the gap. The brand of cricket that's on show is an exciting brand of cricket for the world to see, not only from us.

But in terms of us, we know what's on the line. All the players know what's on the line. We've prepared for it. We've spoken about it. If there's any team that understands that there's a must win game, it's probably going to be a team like Scotland that often goes into competitions knowing that every game is a must win game.

We spoke about topping the group. That was certainly a goal and something we wanted to achieve before we arrived here. We spoke about it. We've planned for it. It wouldn't surprise me if we didn't do that because the mindset is there and the belief is there.

So it's huge among Scottish cricket, but also it has the ability to inspire a nation, and it's the first Scottish team to go and create history and do something we've never done before is certainly on the back of every player and support staff's mind, for sure.

To be the legacy of being the first Scottish team to do that is certainly a motivation of ours, and to inspire all those young cricketers, not only in Scotland but around the world to take up the game and play a brand of cricket that Scotland plays is ultimately the goal we want to be achieving.

Q. And coming into the tournament, what was the kind of preparation that went into tournaments like this? Obviously, playing against a team like Bangladesh, which is a far more experienced and established outfit, did you actually see a win like that coming your way? Was there a great deal of self belief that this could be done and you could be in a stage like this where you could top the group? Was there that sort of thinking in the squad?

SHANE BURGER: The thinking has been there even before I arrived with this unit. There was a belief that we could beat full member nations. It's happened previously where a team has beaten the likes of England and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on previous occasions. You obviously need the opportunity to do that. You need the platform to deliver those performances, which we have on this stage.

In terms of preparation, it certainly wasn't the last six months. It's been probably the last 18 to 24 months that we've been speaking about it and planning, and what the pandemic gave us as a unit was the opportunity to go away and work on various skills and tactics that we knew would be required in this World Cup.

Previously, it was going to be in India, so you start thinking about what the conditions might be like in India, then when it shifts over to the UAE, you then have an opportunity to be really confident because this is conditions that we've faced in recent times and we've been very successful over here. So that did add to the motivation and to the thinking.

But in terms of preparation, the lads have worked nonstop for 18 months, whether that be at home, sitting at home waiting for this pandemic to go past, focusing on the things they can really control during that time, and working on the mentality of getting into big tournaments and having to win every single game. So we've had really good preparation in Scotland, even though there probably was a frustration there was no cricket for a long period of time.

So when cricket does come, it's one of those where you've got to really respect it and appreciate it and go out and once again send a message to the rest of the world that we've got some really good players within this group. We've got a unit that can go out and do special things. It's something that we truly believe we can still achieve in this tournament.

Q. I'll carry forward on that question. We noticed there was that something extra on the field that you gave, especially in the match against Bangladesh. Is the fact that you spend a lot more time, perhaps fewer and fewer playing in the T20 franchise leagues as compared to the other countries, is that something that may have gone in your favor in this particular tournament?

SHANE BURGER: I think it's always important that players get the opportunity to play in various competitions and test themselves, not only against the world's best players, but get involved in different systems, experience different coaches, different styles of playing, different conditions of playing. I think it's really important that we keep pushing different players to go out and do that. I think cricket offers the opportunity for many competitions to go out and do that.

We have a few players that have been involved in various conditions, not a lot in the last 24 months. A few obvious reasons through the pandemic and everything else. I'm always a fan of the players going out and experiencing different environments.

We do spend a lot of time together in Scotland. The team is as close as they are, it's not surprising to know that they get on really well. It's because they spend a lot of time together and they enjoy each other's company. The biggest thing is they actually enjoy each other's successes. That's probably the highlight for me of what's happened in this competition. You can see a real togetherness and a belief, and that stems from not only training and the environment and the behaviors, but also the culture that we try to breed within Scottish cricket.

I've no doubt that our younger generation will be looking at that and they'll want to achieve even more than what this group has achieved, and that's the legacy we want to leave, not only in this tournament, but moving forward.

Q. How much do you benefit from UK cricket and their league, the English league basically?

SHANE BURGER: We have a few players that play in the county setup. We have a few younger players that also are involved in the setup, and we really do value that time that the players get to spend within those counties. It does mean they get to play a lot of cricket, which is really important.

One of the things we are striving for in Scotland is to be able to give the players more cricket, more quality cricket, keep building our domestic structures and our youth pathways and make sure that they are as competitive and challenging as they can be so that the next crop of Scottish cricketers coming through can not only get onto the world stage and compete but actually perform at their best. That's the ultimate plan.

So we do have a few that are involved in the counties, Brad Wheal's at Hampshire, Josh Davey's at Somerset, and that's just to name a couple that play pretty regularly for their counties. Would we like more? Absolutely. Would we like to keep developing our own domestic structure so we don't have to rely on the counties? Absolutely. But I think there's a fine balance when it comes to that.

Q. This is something I asked earlier to the PNG captain, but Oman and Scotland and PNG have basically risen through the ranks together. What are your comments on Oman cricket and its facilities over here?

SHANE BURGER: You only need to look around and see the fantastic images and the drone images of what's been created here in Oman, I think it's absolutely magnificent for Omani cricket. And what they've created and developed here within a very short space of time is absolutely fantastic for the game.

The Oman team for a very long time now has played good cricket. Whenever we come up against them, it's competitive games, and they are hard fought matches. It's never over until the final ball against them. They fight hard all the way through. They're a very competitive bunch, and I have no doubt that tomorrow is going to be no different.

PNG the same. They're a group that's been together for a long period of time. They've had a particularly tough trip. They've lost loved ones during this period, and for them to still be together and fighting the way they did yesterday against us is fantastic to see. They're just a great bunch of lads who should be very proud of themselves. Their spirit is really there to be admired. Their fielding and the way they go about their business is fantastic.

So we have huge respect for those teams, huge admiration for what they've achieved, but when we get on the park tomorrow, it's going to be a huge battle that we're looking forward to.

Q. So looking ahead beyond tomorrow itself, now that it's quite probable that you'll make it to the next round, any preference which group you'd like to be with?

CHARLES AMINI: You say it's probable, but we know we need to win tomorrow. Even coming into this tournament, we wanted to win three games, as I mentioned previously. I've been very reluctant to look too far ahead. I'm really trying to urge the units and the squad to remain very much in the present.

All we can focus on right now is recovering and resting up today and making sure that we bring our best performance tomorrow. We know we're probably going to need our best performance tomorrow against this Oman team, who had a tough game against Bangladesh last night and they probably had several opportunities to win that match.

So we know they're dangerous, and all we can do is focus on tomorrow's performance. If we follow, stick to our processes, our routines, and keep winning those big moments, which we've done so far in this tournament, then we know we can progress. Whichever group you get, I don't think people can be too worried about that right now. We'll worry about that when we get there.

Q. I just want to understand, you mentioned closing the gap from the associate members to the full members. How much do you think your performances are representing not only Scotland, but the growth of associate cricket?

SHANE BURGER: I get quite a few messages from other coaches from associate nations, and we're a very tight knit nation, the associates. That doesn't mean it's us v. them, it's very much a network of teams that are looking to progress their game within their own countries.

We're very supportive of all those teams, but when we come up against one another, they're huge battles, and more often than not they come down to the last bat and the last ball because the nature of those levels and the competitiveness.

Is it a level playing field? It certainly isn't. You've got to work on shoestring budgets. Resources are very limited. Facilities are challenging at times. But my job as a coach is to make sure we go over and beyond and reach targets we might have never been able to reach previously or reach various things that maybe players thought they couldn't reach. So that's our job as coaches, and never mind the fact that the resources and stuff is limited.

There are guys that are paid far more than I do to make those decisions and make sure the game is spread around the world, which is ultimately the goal of the ICC. We're just fortunate that we're in a position now that we can be in a competition like this, experience the pressure, experience the rugged nature of competition sport, and be able to show the rest of the world what we're about, and I'm sure the other associate nations are doing that too.

Today are going to be some interesting battles in that other group, I have no doubt, and we're very supportive of them but very competitive when we get into battle.

Q. How's the reaction been back at home within the Scottish cricketing community and outside of it?

SHANE BURGER: The support has been nothing short of incredible. The messages you get from people, people you maybe haven't heard from in years, is wonderful. It's amazing the ability sport has to pull a nation together and allow people to dream.

Something I mentioned to this group is we're allowed to dream, we're allowed to go out and do unrealistic things, and that's something we're looking to continue to do as a group and a unit.

The support from Scotland, the fans, the families has been phenomenal, and not just Scotland, people from all around the world. So I have no doubt that we would have picked up a few more fans during this time, and long may that continue. Ultimately, it's about that next generation, that young person, boy or girl, who wants to put on a Scotland shirt and play for Scotland.

Q. Just a question on Kyle really. He hasn't quite fired yet with the bat, but I just wonder if you could tell us a bit really about what he means to Scottish cricket as a front man and a leader. Obviously, very, very experienced. I guess nothing would make him prouder to come to the party in this big game with so much on the line.

SHANE BURGER: Kyle has not put in the performances he would pride himself on. He's been a consistent performer for this team for many years. Actually, Kyle is not only the leader in the team, but probably the person to thank for the way the brand of cricket has changed within Scottish cricket. The way that he's played, the braveness he's showed in the last 36 months in terms of how he wants to play has certainly resonated within the team.

I have no doubt that Kyle is only one day away or one performance away from really nailing his form. I've never seen a batter hit the ball so well in the nets in all my life. He's in the form of his life in terms of the nets. He's just got to take that out into the match.

What Kyle brings is not only performances within the team, but as a leader, he's an inspiring leader, he's a sense of calm. I think -- well, I know tactically within the last two games, he's got a lot right, and you can certainly see that the players are following him and they believe in what he wants to do within this team.

I have an incredible relationship with him. He's a fantastic human being, and I can't think of anyone else who deserves success more than him.

Q. I was going to ask about Kyle again, but Rory covered that, so I'll go to a different tack. You're standing on the edge of history in terms of Scottish cricket here. There's not over confidence, but how satisfying is it? You talked about that it's not just six months, but this journey since you came in to knit the belief of these desperate cricketers together that they can represent Scotland at the very top level?

SHANE BURGER: It's a fantastic place to be. I think we'd rather be where we are now than any other place. If you're not looking forward to competition sports where we are right now, sitting in the position we're in, I think you're in the wrong position or in the wrong game really. This is competition sports. It's high pressure. It's high expectations. There's a nation's hopes resting on the game tomorrow.

We know what that all represents. We've already created history in this tournament by winning two games. That's more than any Scottish team has done previously. We want to go one step further, and all the goals that we've set have been over and above this group stage. We've spoken a lot about getting into round 2 and what we want to achieve getting into round 2, but we know we need to take it one step at a time.

I'm just really proud of the calm this unit has shown. The ability to win really big moments has been key. We've actually done that not really getting out of third gear yet. I don't think we've put a full game of cricket together yet. We've shown glimpses, glimpses with the bat, glimpses with the ball, glimpses in the field, but we're going to have to bring all of that out tomorrow and then go again.

The players are very well aware of that. There's a real confidence that has brewed within the group over the last month. We've been here a long time now. The sunshine is bringing confidence, and we certainly are looking forward to what tomorrow represents.

Q. I know, when I look on the names of the Zoom call from the Scottish media, we're cricket fans. We've been punching upwards in terms of trying to get more exposure for the game in this country. You could provide the biggest shot in the arm for that and for all of us who are desperate to get more cricket on TV in Scotland by getting through to that Super 12 stage.

SHANE BURGER: That's definitely a duty we have. We're in control of that, and we're well aware of that. We would love Scotland to grow within the country. I don't think people realize how much cricket is played in Scotland. You only need to walk around on a weekend and go and see how many people are playing within the clubs. It's fantastic to see, and we need more and more people to keep taking us seriously and know that we want to be a top ten nation. That's certainly a goal we have too.

Destiny is in our hands to go out tomorrow and send another message. Ultimately, we just appreciate the support of the fans that they have shown. I have no doubt that we've sent really strong messages already within this tournament, and we just look forward to more support moving forward.

There's only certain things you can control in life. We're trying to control as much as we can at the moment. We know there's a real sense of belief within this unit, and everybody is so far playing to their potential, and we have one more game to go before we reset and go again within Round 2.

Inspiring a nation is certainly something we speak about quite a bit. We have the ability to do that.

Q. When you're away for long periods of time, particularly on the edge of COVID bubbles and in hotels for long periods of time, how do you kind of keep things fresh? How do you keep boys entertains for long periods like that?

SHANE BURGER: Well, I don't really know if you can complain when you're in five star hotels and you're experiencing the amazing weather we're experiencing at the moment.

To be honest, it can be tough. These bubbles are incredibly tough at times when players are away from their families and their friends, and you're very restricted to hotels. What we've done on this trip is we've made sure that we've allowed each and every single player to try experiencing an environment that they're comfortable and safe in. We've also been really big of the well-being of the players on this trip.

We've brought staff members with that have taken care of the players throughout the trip. They've been absolutely fantastic, and I can only thank those staff members for taking a lot of pressure off myself and the rest of the staffing. The players have been very appreciative of it.

We're just really lucky that this group of players manage themselves really well. They understand what it means to be away on a trip. It's not their first World Cup for many of them. They know how to manage one another. They get on incredibly well as a group.

I've never seen the team's spirit so good. Whether that comes from winning games, whether that comes from being very comfortable in your environment could be a reason.

So, yes, it's been tough. We've been away from home for more than a month now, but if you want to compete at the highest level, there are other teams that have been in tougher positions than us, and we just really appreciate and respect the environment we're currently in. And it's an absolute privilege to be here, to experience the pressure that it brings is a real privilege. So we'll cherish these moments, and we're certainly looking to create more memories along the way.

Q. You kind of touched on earlier about the bigger picture. How far away do you think Scotland is from becoming a full member? It's been a goal for a few years now.

SHANE BURGER: In many ways, the goalposts are not really there for us to make that decision. I really feel that that comes at a time when you've earned it. I have no doubt that this team is there or very near to doing that.

Full membership is just a tag really. It doesn't define a mindset or a behaviour within your team. Professionalism is an attitude, and we know that whether full membership comes or not, we'll continue to keep striving to get better every single day. We will continue to try to grow the network of Scottish cricket, and we'll make sure that we leave it in a better place than we found it, that's for sure.

Full membership would be great just to grow the systems and really put resources into the required fields that they needed, and that's all it is really. Again, that sort of destiny is within our hands. You can only control what you can, and by doing what we've done in this tournament so far, it's a platform for us to show people out there why we are ready for it, and we have no doubt that, if it came our way, we would really reap the rewards from that.

It's something you can't think about too much. Quite often these decisions are made at various times, but destiny is in our hands to be able to achieve it. We know that, and when it comes, we'll be ready for it.

Q. Was Safyaan Sharif injured yesterday?

SHANE BURGER: Yes, Safyaan, unfortunately, had a tight groin. We made the tough decision to leave him out and rest him. I just really respect the honesty from the player and know that there's the bigger picture that was taken into consideration.

With that also being said, we were 100 percent confident that Ali Evans could come in and matched up pretty well against PNG. He's been in fantastic form for a long period of time now and really unlucky to be missing out in this really quality bowling attack we have at the moment. So it was an opportunity for Ali to come in. He did a great job, got a really important wicket yesterday.

Safyaan sat on the sides yesterday, but we'll still make the decision as to what we do against Oman. So we're confident that all 15 players can come into this playing 11 and not only play, but make an impact and be the man of the match. We speak about that quite often.

The four guys that are missing out right now, although it's incredibly frustrating for them, I have no doubt they'll understand the bigger picture. So Safyaan was just one of those that we just used a bit of precaution yesterday, but he will be ready to go and to play against Oman.

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