Cricketers entering unorthodox professional fields post their retirement is not uncommon, but only a rare few would have had to make such a choice after their playing careers got cut short in the 20s. Former Scotland international Matt Machan is one of those unfortunate ones, who had a premature end to his national stint at the age of just 26 and has now a launched bar in Bournemouth.
The 28th July will always be a significant day in my life. 4 years ago today I announced my retirement from sport. 4 years on, I’m proud to announce the ‘soft’ launch of the first @peachyqueenbar in Bournemouth. A project @georgemachan and I have worked tirelessly on pic.twitter.com/Tqkc1WppsC
— Matt Machan (@mattmachan) July 28, 2021
Machan, who was part of Scotland’s 2015 World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand, had to bid adieu to the game only two years later on medical advice. The right-hand batsman sustained a reoccuring injury to his wrist and underwent an operation for the same. But with no desired solution, he had to make a difficult choice and announced an end to his professional career.
“It is with great sadness and an extremely heavy heart that I have to announce my retirement. Following medical advice, my long-term health is most important to me and I have to take that into account,” Machan had said in a statement at the time via county club Sussex that he played for in the English domestic scene.
“I believe as a batsman I was only just starting to come into my own and it is a real shame that this has been cut short so early as I believe I had so much still to offer Sussex over the next few years.”
Matt Machan not the first Scottish cricketer to retire prematurely
Matt Machan played 23 ODIs and 12 T20Is for Scotland with over 1,000 international runs to his name. A decent contributor in the 50-over game, Machan produced his best in the shortest version, averaging 40.70 while maintaining a strike-rate of 127.98. He was also a handy part-time off-spin bowler with an economy rate of 5.73 in ODIs and 6.93 in T20Is.
Machan opening a bar after his retirement is not the first example of a Scotland cricketer having an alternative professional career. Former skipper Preston Mommsen also had his international stint cut short in his 20s, when at 29 he called it quits to pursue a career in the corporate world. Mommsen’s retirement had a lot to do with his disapproval of the way cricket is governed, especially for the associate countries, who have struggled for adequate playing opportunities and financial resources.
The misery of an association nation was highlighted last year by another prominent Scottish cricketer Kyle Coetzer in an interview last year for this site. Coetzer pointed out how the COVID-19 pandemic and the global shutdown which cricket had seen, have had a massive impact on the players’ earnings in Scotland.
“It is a huge loss. Life plays its part. It’s a hugely saddening time. People have to earn a living. Fortunately we get to do it this way. It comes with its challenges. A career with an Associate member team in cricket isn’t the most fruitful,” he said. “But it’s a very rewarding one when you see what you can do to development of the sport in the country. It is certainly less than ideal now. A lot of our players rely on cricket to make our earnings.”
While unaware when cricket would possibly resume, Scottish players also had to ensure they aren’t letting the extended off-field period affect their fitness standards without any involvement of Cricket Scotland, said Coetzer.
“Players are trying to do what they can to maintain their own fitness. Just to give an example – Technically we are not working for Cricket Scotland. We are doing it probably because we are a bit bored. We are still doing our strength and conditioning. That’s down to us. Cricket Scotland has no involvement in how it works.”
Scotland are still a country much better placed in the associate world ladder, where the practice of players operating in alternate professions to sustain their livelihoods is even more common in some of the lower-ranked teams.