Cricket: Herdman likes our green if not always pleasant land

Michael Herdman has made his name in Scotland as a bowler but he enjoys learning how to bat in our climate
Michael Herdman has made his name in Scotland as a bowler but he enjoys learning how to bat in our climate
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Hailing from Agnes Water, population 1619 and proud possessor of the most northerly surfing beach on Australia’s East Coast, 20-year-old Michael Herdman wasted no time in making waves on the Edinburgh cricket scene.

After starting out with two wickets for five runs on his debut for Carlton in a Scottish Cup tie against Falkland, left arm seamer Herdman excelled with figures of five wickets for six runs against Greenock the following week with victims including the highly-rated Scotland cap Richie Berrington.

That earmarked the Queenslander as a player of potential and, sure enough, a state “rookie contract” back home is high on his list of priorities.

“It has been a bit frustrating with so many matches cancelled due to rain,” said Herdman, quickly adding “but an upside is that whenever it has been possible to play I have learned a lot about coping with unfamiliar conditions which will hopefully make me a better player and still in with a chance of a rookie contract which is available up to the age of 23.”

If arguably the worst Scottish cricketing weather in years has stalled that development then Herdman is used to battling adversity.

“I grew up in The Bush at Agnes Water where there wasn’t a lot to do and certainly no cricket team with a total of just 220 school age kids.

“Fortunately my dad would throw cricket balls for me in our yard and when I was 12 we moved to Brisbane after a spell in Bundaberg. Even then because I went to a state school there wasn’t a cricketing programme and I had to look elsewhere.

“I am now attached to Redlands Tigers cricket club who gave me my chance and last season I topped the bowling figures with 41 wickets.”

That total, which included one “five-for”, saw Herdman catch the eye of talent spotters.

“(Local coach) Brad Murphy has contacts abroad and he, along with Calum Howard, a Scottish lad who was playing at Redlands, arranged for me to come to Scotland as an overseas amateur.

“Mainly through Calum I had some idea what to expect but even then I’ve been surprised by how much movement a bowler can get off the deck.

“The wickets are very green which is so different from Australia where the formats differ, too. We play only a handful of Twenty:20 matches and league games are spread over an entire weekend.”

Having had to wait several matches to get a bat Michael responded to opening the order against Stoneywood-Dyce with a half century and followed up with 20 runs going in at No. 3 against Watsonians.

However, any benefits on the bowling front from the conditions have been balanced by having to restrict his favourite shots with the bat. “I enjoy playing a lot of cut and pull shots but the ball just doesn’t get up high enough here.

“In four innings I’ve been out playing on to my stumps, lbw, caught by the ‘keeper and behind my legs.”

The need to tailor natural shot-making tendencies to the conditions is something Michael will take home ready to make a major push for higher honours.

“Two players from my club, James Pearson, a wicket-keeper, and Alex Kemp have earned Queensland Rookie contracts and that is my goal,” says the man whose sister turns out for the Queensland women’s football team! According to Carlton captain Fraser Watts, who has vast experience of the international scene as Scotland’s most capped player, it is onwards and upwards so far as Herdman is concerned.

Said Watts: “Herdy is a very talented young lad who has brought a great deal to Carlton since his arrival.

“He is a top quality all rounder and has already made significant contributions with bat and ball and I’m sure he will continue to do so throughout the rest of the season.”