Bradburn and his Full Member dream

Scotland head coach Grant Bradburn is not overconfident about landing the job with New Zealand Cricket, but he says he would love to present his story, as a coach who strongly feels that he will be able to walk into that role.

Grant Bradburn feels he needed the Scotland experience to elevate himself to the level of a professional coach.   -  Getty Images

“Coaching opportunities come around at different stages and the timing is not always perfect,” says Grant Bradburn, assessing the role of time in his career.

Earlier this month, two incidents brought Bradburn closer to his dream of coaching his home nation, New Zealand. First, on June 7, Mike Hesson said he would step down as coach of the Black Caps. Then, on June 10, Scotland – pursuing the Bradburn doctrine – stunned England by six runs in a One-Day International in Edinburgh.

In a telephonic interview with Sportstar from Deventer in the Netherlands – where Scotland is participating in a triangular Twenty20 series with Ireland and the host nation – Bradburn shares his experience of transforming the Scots’ style of cricket and his ambition to work with a Full Member nation.

Excerpts:

With Ireland and Afghanistan making their Test debuts, it has been a year of transformations (from Associate to Full Member of the International Cricket Council). What are your thoughts?

We were very pleased for Ireland for the way they fought. The glass ceiling is broken and they have shown Full Membership isn’t impossible. We fully respect their number of iconic victories in the past 10 years. They deserved to be elevated. It has given us inspiration and hope that Scotland can be the next Full Member.

It doesn’t seem impossible with the way they beat England last Sunday. The body language was spot on. What was your input before the game?

In 2016, when we came back from the T20 World Cup in India, I sat down with the team and I presented to them the number of ‘almost victories’ we had experienced. It also included games in the World Cup in 2015, especially the one against Bangladesh (which Scotland lost by six wickets despite setting a target of 319). There were also close games against Afghanistan and Zimbabwe throughout that period. In all games, the door of victory was jammed. The Scotland team was not skilled or confident enough to walk through.

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I told them we could carry on as we were and win some games, but that way we would be inconsistent. The harder pathway was to be more selfless and understand that we play for the team. The boys chose the harder route and I worked hard to bring in an attitude and aggression just like how a Full Member would play the game.

Many of the Scotland cricketers have English county contracts. Do you get all players at your disposal before key tournaments?

Among our top 20 players, half of them are playing county. For us, it is a double-edged sword because we have a massive advantage being right next to England and the English county system. Our players can move freely and we also take our A-team and developing team to the counties. At times, we can’t have some of our players back for big games because the county is their primary employer. Being an Associate Member, we don’t have enough funding to make Scotland the main employer.

A big part of my job is to work with county coaches and directors trying to ensure that we are working for the best interest of the player, trying to get them available for key games and also allowing the county to have them when they need. We try to work together.

You have said that coaching the Black Caps is your dream job. How do you plan to go about it?

Hesson’s resignation came as a surprise and we are a year away from the 50-over World Cup. I am not presumptuous or overconfident. But I have had communications with New Zealand Cricket and I am looking forward to more communication with them once the job description is finalised. I would love to present my story, as a coach who strongly feels that he will be able to walk into that role.

How much did Scotland contribute to your résumé as a professional coach?

A major part. It enabled me to build coaching experiences that I felt I needed to be able to coach at the Full Member level. My family and I are extremely grateful to Scotland for the opportunity. It was a challenging experience, which I needed, to be ready.

What are your thoughts on New Zealand’s prospects in the World Cup under Kane Williamson?

He has done a fantastic job taking over from Brendon McCullum. Brendon started an aggressive style of cricket, which was not seen in the Black Caps’ environment and the way Kane has handled it is brilliant. His captaincy for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League was outstanding. He also continues to be one of the most professional batsmen in the world.

If you happen to walk into the New Zealand team, there will be new set of ideas for the boys to follow. Is one year good enough time to prepare for the World Cup?

It is a good time. We are a small nation, but we have had major achievements beyond the expectation of the population. The World Cup is clearly within the grasp of a number of teams and it will depend on how those teams perform during the tournament. They will have a new coach, even if it is not me. The skill of the coach will lie in building a good environment. The coach needs to understand what the team needs to build on the success.

International career
  • Grant Bradburn played seven Tests and 11 ODIs for New Zealand from 1990-2001. His Black Caps debut came under the legendary Martin Crowe. He has been with the Scotland cricket team, as head coach, from 2014.

How tough will it be to leave Scotland at this time? The team is on the rise...

At the moment, we are on an upward spiral and we have a few exciting games. There is still a lot to achieve in Scotland, so I would love to stay and be a part of the success. But from a career point of view, coaching opportunities come around at different stages and the timing is not always perfect. I am relaxed about that and, fortunately, Cricket Scotland is also relaxed and they are fully aware that coaching my home nation is my dream job. There are a number of strong leaders who can drive the team further at any level.

Even Heath Streak has joined Scotland as a consultant now...

Heath is a respected person who has added great value in a short span of time. He is someone who knows our players well and has immense knowledge of the modern T20 game. Adding Heath's experience is a clear sign for us that Scotland is intent on moving further with T20 skills to break into the top 10 teams.

What if New Zealand doesn’t shortlist you?

That’s fine. Even if I am not appointed, my ambition to coach a Full Member team will still remain. I can consider that at some stage in my career, even if it is not my home nation.