Towards Full Membership: an interview with Malcolm Cannon

In his first article for Emerging Cricket, Jake Perry sits down with Cricket Scotland's Malcolm Cannon to talk about Scotland's pathway to the ICC's top table

Cricket Scotland and Scotrail today launched the new Scotrail Curriculum for Excellence Cricket Programme. Pic shows l to r: Malcolm Cannon, CEO Cricket Scotland. Tony Brian, Chairman, Cricket Scotland. Phil Verster, MD of Scotrail Alliance. Preston Mommsen, Captain of the men's national cricket team. Abbi Aitken, captain of the women's national cricket team.

Of all the lines which divide international cricket, no team has done more to head-butt that which separates its Full and Associate members than Scotland. With a record of five wins and two ties against Test-playing opposition over the past two years, Kyle Coetzer’s side has proved itself capable of not only competing with the best in the world but, as England discovered on that famous day at The Grange twelve months ago, beating them, too.

When it comes to the future, Cricket Scotland’s ambition goes far beyond merely joining their number, however. The governing body’s drive towards Full Membership is part of its wider strategy to realise the potential which lies at all levels of the Scottish game, and, as CEO Malcolm Cannon explains, the organisation is doing all it can to turn that desire into reality.      

“I think Scottish cricket is in as healthy a position as it ever has been, certainly within living memory,” he said. “Although the amateur game has been affected in the same way as elsewhere – the increased distraction of youngsters, the lack of recruitment from schools and the fact that a lot of people are time-poor means that all team sports are struggling a bit for numbers and volunteers – we have a very well-structured, very transparent pathway for both boys and girls which gives real clarity. A young cricketer can see exactly how they go from picking up a bat for the first time to playing for their country. 

“At the top end, having both the women and the men ranked at number eleven in what is targeted as the key format, T20, is as high a position as we have ever held,” he continued. “Beating four different Full Members [in men’s fifty-over cricket] in a two-year period after never having beaten one before means we must be better unless the rest of the world is going backwards, and I can’t believe that!

“And then there is the coverage of the Scottish game, and in that I think we’ve made as much noise through the various channels, whether social or traditional media, as we have for many, many years. We’re still missing the traditional press coverage on the back pages of the newspapers – football squeezes us out 365 days a year – as well as really good TV and radio coverage in Scotland, but, again, that is the picture pretty much everywhere. The UK viewing figures for the World Cup, for example, are very poor – for England World Cup matches they are standing at around half a million, whereas 6.1 million watched Scotland Women lose to England in the football World Cup. That is something as a sport that we all need to address.

Cannon is also trustee of charity “Beyond Boundaries”, on the board of Patrick Thistle FC, involved in ShirtByHand bespoke shirts, follows football and rugby, and is also an amateur dancer and singer. (Photos: Cricket Scotland)

“I also think our community engagement through the Lord’s Taverners and Beyond Boundaries is as strong as it has ever been in terms of getting different communities playing cricket,” he went on. “We’ve done a lot of work with disadvantaged children, people with disability and, in particular, the migrant community through in Glasgow. And I suppose the final part of the picture is that financially, on a turnover which is higher than it ever has been before, we are still washing our face after three or four years of making a loss. In the early 2010s we made massive losses, but we’ve stabilised that and are now breaking even.

“So to summarise, we’re healthy. Thriving, no, but do we have opportunities, yes, and we have a strong base for whatever may come in the future.”

With all but four of the ICC’s criteria for Full Membership realised, that strong base may bring dividends sooner rather than later. Scotland’s push to become the thirteenth Full Member is gathering pace, but, as Malcolm reiterates, the governing body’s long-term ambition goes well beyond its short-to-medium-term objective.     

“When you became a Full Member in the past your domestic competition automatically received List A status, but now that has been turned on its head in that you must have List A status to become a Full Member. There is no checklist for that as such…”

Malcolm Cannon – Cricket Scotland CEO

“Our stated aim [of Full Membership] is merely a step, rather than an ultimate goal,” he said. “We see it as an enabler to make cricket mainstream. The additional funding comes with Full Membership would enable us to invest in achieving that goal, which is the ultimate strategic aim of Cricket Scotland.

“In terms of what there is left to do, gaining List A status [for Scotland’s domestic competition] is an interesting one. When you became a Full Member in the past your domestic competition automatically received List A status, but now that has been turned on its head in that you must have List A status to become a Full Member. There is no checklist for that as such – we believe it involves going through an audit process, but as no-one has been in this position before it’s difficult to say exactly what that will look like. We imagine it will look at the quality, investment, profile and pathway of our Regional Series, which is our premier domestic competition, and as we believe ours is as good as the Irish one we hope we will get it.

“For us the most difficult task ahead is getting our women’s team to the final stages of a World Cup. It is a ten-team competition in both white-ball formats, and although we are ranked eleventh, the differential between tenth and eleventh is marked – it is effectively the difference between professional and amateur as we are still an amateur side.

“We have a phenomenally talented squad of young players, but the difference between part-time and full-time is dramatic. That is why we have bid for and won the hosting rights for the Global Qualifier for the Women’s T20 World Cup and why we have also put a bid in to host the One-Day version as well. Home advantage not only gives greater familiarity with the conditions but it also gives us all our players, who if the tournament was elsewhere, the Antipodes or the subcontinent for example, might not be available. So we’ve done all we can to give the team every advantage.

333 days passed between Scotland’s victory over England and their NEXT HOME MEN’S internationals

“I’m not saying that it’ll be easy to beat another top-ten nation, although I think that if we’d played all four of our games in May we would have done. We know we’re very close, they know we’re very close, and it’ll happen. We’ll qualify for another Men’s World Cup at some point, hopefully in October, and I think we’ll achieve List A status once we get our ducks in line. But the women’s one is going to be the toughest.”

And so to the summer ahead. A total of 333 days passed between Scotland’s victory over England and the first of the aforementioned May internationals in Edinburgh, where the team suffered two wash-outs – the first no-results seen in Scotland since 2016 – and two defeats on DLS to Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. The sense of exasperation at the loss of an opportunity to claim another win over a top-ten side was profound, but with the launch of both CWC League Two and the Euro T20 Slam fast approaching there is still plenty to look forward to before the Global Qualifier for the Men’s T20 World Cup gets underway in the UAE in October.

“Although the May internationals weren’t quite as important in terms of percentage of games lost, they were massively important to us in terms of our opportunity to play top-ten opposition,” said Malcolm. “These bi-laterals are really important, and to lose two to the weather and two to DLS was frustrating in the extreme. Does it set us back? Well, it doesn’t set us forward. It doesn’t tick another box that we wanted ticked.

“But this summer Scotland will be hosting ten ODIs as well as heaven knows how many T20s. That is a lot of top-quality cricket, most or all of which will be televised. We’ve never even gone close to that in the past. So it’s a big summer, and then you can add the women’s matches, the domestic competitions and all the stuff we’re playing away on top of that as well. So coming back to the very first question, we can’t do much more given the resources we’ve got. We can’t plan much better to provide as much cricket as possible. There’s a lot of activity, a lot of output from Cricket Scotland, and we’ll always strive to make the most of the opportunities we have.”

Full Membership application performance criteria

(To be considered eligible for membership as a Full Member of the ICC, an Associate Member must satisfy the following membership criteria in terms of on-field performance, among other requirements, all men’s cricket unless otherwise noted🙂

(i) Either feature on the ICC’s official ODI rankings table (note: this was issued when there were only 12 on the ‘official’ table) and/or have finished first or second in at least one edition of the ICC Intercontinental Cup over the previous eight (8) years;
(ii) Have participated in at least three ICC Cricket World Cups and/or ICC World T20 events in the previous eight (8) years;
(iii) Have registered victories over at least: (a) one (1) Full Member team (who was ranked in the top ten of the official ICC ODI or T20I rankings (as applicable) at the time of relevant victory) in the ICC Cricket World Cup, the ICC CWC Qualifier, the ICC World T20 and/or the ICC World T20 Qualifier; and (b) four (4) victories against two (2) or more Full Member teams (who were ranked in the top ten of the official ICC ODI or T20I rankings (as applicable) at the time of relevant victory) in bilateral ODI and/or T20I cricket; in both cases over the previous eight (8) years;
(iv) Have either (a) participated in at least one (1) ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup or ICC Women’s World T20 over the previous four (4) years or (b) currently feature on the ICC’s official women’s rankings table; and
(v) Have participated in at least two (2) editions of the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup in the last eight (8) years.


    • Too many moving parts at this stage I think – tours are locked in across three different tournaments (Super League, CWC L2, Challenge League). With suspension being reviewed in October – and similar to the U19CWC, which hasn’t been mentioned yet – one could assume the ICC are hoping to be able to reinstate Zimbabwe, at least to competing in events, by the time both events kick off. Only time will tell though…


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