Coetzer relishing Bangladesh challenge
Kyle Coetzer sat nervously watching an auction in Bangladesh on Thursday morning, but when the bidding process was completed, the 27 year-old Scottish batsman had been snapped up by Chittagong for $25,000, making him the first of his country’s cricketers to join some elite figures in the inaugural Bangladesh Premier League, which starts next month.
For Coetzer, who has enjoyed an illustrious year, scoring centuries both for and against his homeland in the CB 40 tournament and regularly inflicting pain on opponents in the Intercontinental Cup, the news provided fresh financial stability, following a period where his talents were ignored too often by his former county, Durham, prior to the Aberdonian switching his allegiance to Northants towards the end of last season.
But, more importantly, his recruitment to the BPL affords Coetzer a terrific chance to demonstrate his ability in the Twenty20 arena, in the build-up to the ICC’s qualifying tournament for the World T20 in Dubai in March; a competition where the Scots have the arduous assignment of playing seven matches in eight days.
Indeed, although Coetzer will miss Scotland’s Intercontinental Cup match against UAE from February 16-19 – the new competition in Bangladesh lasts from the 9th to 29th of that month – and he has still to discuss his schedule with the Scottish coach, Peter Steindl, he clearly believes that his compatriots possess sufficient quality in their ranks to prosper in his absence.
“I put my name in for the BPL a couple of weeks ago, and although it was a bit nerve-racking to be watching the auction unfold in England, things have worked out well and my agents [Full Time Sports Management] are sorting out the fine details at the moment,” said Coetzer, on Thursday evening.
“Hopefully, this will open the door for other Scottish players in the future, if the situation and timing fits in with the Cricket Scotland schedules, because there are several of my team mates who could do a good job, and the reality is that the way that cricket is going, you can’t ignore Twenty20, because it has captured the imagination of fans all over the world and I am very excited by it.
“Some people seem to think that it is not my favourite format of the game, and maybe that is because I fell a bit out of favour at Durham. But I loved being involved with Scotland during the last World T20 [in England] and I actually managed to finish sixth on the list of six hitters in the event. [Coetzer struck a rapid 33 in as many overs against New Zealand and fared even better against South Africa]. I know I will have to think on my feet and I will be up against a lot of tough opponents, and all of us are taking a step into a brand new world. But, now that I’ve been signed up, I can’t wait for the challenge.”
Coetzer’s words exemplify his have-bat-will-travel philosophy and this peripatetic individual has never been afraid to test his mettle against the best in his domain. Within the past month, he appeared for the combined ICC Associate/Affiliate team which ran England close in a warm-up tussle for the latter’s series with Pakistan, and he appreciates that he will be entering a feverish atmosphere when he climbs aboard the Chittagong Choo Choo.
But there is no question of him venturing into the BPL without keeping Steindl informed of his plans and Coetzer paid a warm tribute to the Australian coach, whose softly-softly approach is beginning to reap rich dividends for his charges.
“Pete has done a tremendous job, he has got his side playing the way he wants them to play, and the results speak for themselves, about the unity which he brought to the job,” said Coetzer.
“We have an immensely talented bunch of young players just now and there is a feeling that we could do special things in the years ahead. But having a talented squad is not enough without them being able to gel and realise what they are supposed to be doing, and concentrate on the areas where they need to sharpen up. Pete has been instrumental in bringing out the best in us, he is a driven man, with a long-term plan, and he has been brilliant in helping us to progress. So he deserves a lot of credit.”
If Coetzer achieves his BPL aspirations and contributes quick runs on a regular basis, it should be the perfect platform for him in the run-up to the World T20 qualifier. Yet, befitting his refusal to take anything for granted, he sounded a final note of caution.
“Chittagong have shown faith in me and now I have to go out and take advantage of the opportunity, one day at a time, and you have to hit the ground running in Twenty20, so I intend to practice incredibly hard in the weeks ahead,” he concluded.
One wouldn’t anticipate anything else from this consummately professional character.