Gus Mackay is confident projects such as the launch of the Cricket Scotland Performance Academy in Edinburgh can help cricket became a mainstream sport in the country.
Speaking for the first time in his new role as Cricket Scotland chief executive, the Zimbabwe-raised Mackay described Scotland as a “sleeping giant” of world cricket.
The long-held ambition to become a full member nation means having to establish such initiatives as the new performance academy, which has been launched in partnership with Napier University.
“As you know I have just come into the post with Cricket Scotland and to come in and see the facilities we have here [at Napier] is just brilliant for our strategic planning as we look to produce more homegrown talent,” said Mackay, who started his new role last month when he replaced Malcolm Cannon.
“This will help produce all rounded athletes because as we know anything can happen in sport and preparing these youngsters for the future with a focus on cricket is the best thing.”
Mackay applied for the role because he saw such potential for cricket in the country, where the introduction of new formats has seen participation levels rise to more than 78,000, up 150 per cent in the last five years. The Scotland’s men’s side recently qualified for the T20 World Cup.
“I think cricket in Scotland is a sleeping giant if I am honest and our key vision and strategic goals are to become a full member nation of the ICC and to do that we have to have these pathways in place,” said Mackay.
As the name suggests, it’s more than just business for Mackay. His ties run the length of the country, with one grandparent from Wick and another from Duns. He grew up in Harare.
“We have some really good people in the organisation and the passion and excitement for the game in Scotland is considerable,” he added.
“It is not a mainstream sport in this country at the minute, but that is one of our goals – to become mainstream and be in the top five [sports] behind rugby and football and the like.
“We beat England last year and next year we have New Zealand coming with the full summer fixture list to be announced shortly. The more we win big games, the more people will take notice.”
Mackay played professional cricket himself and won three ODI caps for Zimbabwe. He faced an Australian side including Glen McGrath and Shane Warne.
“It was an interesting experience!” he said.
“I had a conversation with the players yesterday about the opportunity they have now, as cricketers.
“When I was playing those opportunities were not around. But they can very much raise their own profile and brand by doing little things – in the (T20) World Cup for example, if they can score 80 v an Australia or an England and it suddenly raises their profile and allows them to go and earn more money elsewhere.
“It also gives them experience when they come and play for Scotland, and that goes for both men and women.”