Qasim Sheikh: Scotland head coach phonecall over racism report 'meant a lot'

Scotland head coach Shane Burger took time out of his preparations for yesterday’s T20 international with New Zealand to call Qasim Sheikh on the phone, a gesture the latter said “meant a lot to him” from “a good, honourable man”.

On Monday, former Scotland internationalists Sheikh and Majid Haq spoke out about their personal experiences of racism in Scottish cricket after Plan4Sport’s independent review into the matter in the sport issued a damning verdict.

Former Scotland captain George Salmond reached out to the duo on social media after Monday’s revelations, but they were frustrated that more of the current coaching and playing group had not been in touch by Tuesday evening.

However, Sheikh and Scotland’s leading wicket taker of all time Haq were at the match at The Grange in Edinburgh yesterday afternoon along with their lawyer Aamer Anwar - and it was revealed that South African Burger had phoned the former a few hours before the 2.30pm start.

Speaking at the ground during the first innings, Sheikh, 37, said: “Shane Burger phoned me [on Wednesday morning].

“I’ve got good relations with Shane. He’s been on the [Sheikhy’s Sports Journeys] podcast a few times. I think he's a good, honourable man and he proved that to me by calling. He was saying he hoped to welcome us to the ground and he hoped we enjoy the game and that they boys put out a tremendous performance. That meant a lot to me.

“Just the fact he took that time to make that phone call [meant a lot].”

After the match, which Scotland eventually lost by 68 runs, Sheikh, Haq and Anwar were seen having a long chat with Burger and Scotland captain Richie Berrington on the boundary edge.

From left: Qasim Sheikh, lawyer Aamer Anwar and Majid Haq arrive at the Scotland v New Zealand match at the Grange in Edinburgh yesterdayy. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

Burger said: “For me to pick up the phone [to Qasim] was my decision as I knew they were going to be here [at the game]. I just wanted to thank them for coming to support us.

“I’ve not been privy to conversations that happened in the past. All I know is that we all need to get better and improve.

“It’s not only Qasim, there are many other victims who have fallen foul of what’s happened. We would all like to do this together - that’s the only way we can get better and heal from this.

“Given my background growing up in South Africa I’ve dealt with a lot of this in the past and it is not a great place to be - the key for me is that we learn from it and that we put systems in place so that people can play the game from all backgrounds and all walks of life.”

During the first innings, the New Zealand batters put on a masterclass.

It was led by opener Finn Allen, the 23-year-old smashing 101 off just 56 balls to lead his side to a very daunting total of 225-5 from their 20 overs.

He hit eight fours and six sixes in his innings before being stumped by wicketkeeper Matthew Cross off the bowling of Mark Watt while, in total, New Zealand hit 29 boundaries.

Chris Sole was the bowler punished the most, finishing with the bruising figures of 1-72 off four overs.

In reply, openers George Munsey and Calum MacLeod put on a 62-run partnership for the first wicket, but it was always going to be a big ask to chase 226 for Scotland.

In the end they finished on 157-8 with Ish Sodhi taking 4-28 for New Zealand.


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