AFTER two consecutive internal appointments, the widespread expectation was that Cricket Scotland would make Craig Wright the first Scot to take full-time charge of the national team after Pete Steindl’s time ran out. Instead, the governing body bowled everybody a wrong ’un yesterday with the appointment of Grant Bradburn.
Wright, the talismanic former Scotland captain, may have been overlooked but he has been given extra responsibilities as assistant coach to Scotland and head of the elite player development department. Having turned 40 only yesterday, he will surely coach Scotland or another team of significance before he turns 50, but for now he will have to be content with learning at the hands of a new mentor.
Bradburn, when he arrives to start work at the start of July, will do so with an impressive pedigree. Nothing went right for the Kiwi, 47, in his brief international playing career, but he has excelled consistently as a coach in New Zealand, first with Northern Districts and then at the helm of the country’s A team and under-23s, and his reward is a three-year contract with a team heading to a World Cup where they will play mainly in his own country.
“We were very keen to look for someone with high-level playing experience and both one-day and four-day coaching experience, and Grant has won the four-day provincial competition in New Zealand with Northern Districts,” said CS chief executive Roddy Smith.
“He also has a fantastic record in producing young cricketers – if you look at the Northern Districts team of the past six or seven years, a number of them, including Corey Anderson, have gone on to play international cricket and they all came through Grant’s system. He is a good fit for us.”
Bradburn will be introduced to the media in Edinburgh next Tuesday and will get a glimpse of the players for whom he is to assume responsibility three days later, when they take on England in the Royal London one-day international at Aberdeenshire’s Mannofield ground.
However, after taking part in an ICC seminar, he will go back to New Zealand to work his notice and, in the words of Smith, “tie up all the loose ends” of his life there. Unlike today’s nomadic breed, Bradburn never played outside New Zealand and he has done all of his coaching at home.
He won’t be back again until 1 July, when he will officially take over as Scotland coach. That is the day in between the first and second of Scotland’s three one-day internationals against the Netherlands at Titwood, and it would be crazy to disrupt the order of the dressing room in the middle of a series, so Wright will not only take the team throughout May and June, but until the Netherlands go home.
It is not quite a Vern Cotter “see you when we see you” arrangement, but nor is it ideal preparation for a World Cup which begins on Valentine’s Day next year.
Bradburn will have to hit the ground running if he is to get fully acquainted with his players by then, but Scotland’s main preparations for the World Cup and the tournament itself will take place in the Antipodes, where he will be both comfortable and knowledgable.
Scotland had a woeful time under Steindl, unable to arrest a decline that had begun on the watch of Peter Drinnen – two Australians who were appointed by CS at a low level and made their way up.
The team sprang back to life in New Zealand earlier this year, coached by the inspiring alliance of Wright and Paul Collingwood. Bradburn will have the option of using Collingwood (when available) as a consultant, most likely at the World Cup, and Smith admitted it was an option he was likely to take.
Collingwood has now gone back to Durham to play after continuing his coaching education under Ashley Giles, whose England tenure is now over. Unless he is called upon by the new incumbent, Peter Moores, he will be available during the winter, and has made plain his interest in seeing through the work he and Wright started in January and February.
“I hope so,” said Smith when asked if Collingwood would resurface as a consultant to the Scotland team, though he declined to say how much money would be available for such blue-chip expertise in the next nine or ten months. “But that will be Grant’s call. When he gets his feet under the door he will make those kind of decisions himself.”
Bradburn is not the big name that some were looking for, but there is nothing to pick at in his record as a coach. He didn’t grasp the nettle as a player, averaging 77 in seven Tests and 53 in 11 ODIs as a bowler and scoring 105 and 60 runs respectively, but surprisingly few great cricketers have gone on to be successful coaches.
Not only does Bradburn tick most of the boxes in terms of what Scotland’s players require, he will avert the need to thrust the job on to Wright, whose credentials are strong but who remains green.
“It is an honour to be named as coach of Scotland,” said the Hamilton man in yesterday’s press release. “As a coach, this presents a great opportunity to add value, by driving continual improvement, building depth with healthy competition for Scottish representation.
“With my appointment through to the end of 2017, I will focus sharply on continuing Scotland’s progress towards being a leading force in world cricket.
“I am also motivated to contribute to Scotland Cricket’s overall performance systems, aligning with each region to build clear player pathways and assisting more Scottish players to step up onto the world stage.
“Cricket Scotland has a high-quality team of people supporting the players, with excellent systems in place.”
In another interesting development, it was confirmed that the head coach will no longer report to Smith but instead to Andy Tennant, who has been promoted to director of cricket. Simon Smith and Toby Bailey will assist Wright when needed and, in turn, Bradburn.