Cricket: Veteran hails club’s up-and-coming stars

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Few, if any, in Scottish cricket have achieved quite as much as Craig Wright or have a deeper understanding of the club and international game.

In looking forward to helping Watsonians try to capture their first national club title by beating Dumfries at Carlton’s Grange Loan ground on Saturday (noon) in a meeting of newly-crowned East and West regional champions, Wright can also reflect on 194 Scotland caps, the captaincy of his country at a World Cup and being one of an initial 12 inductees at the new Cricket Scotland Hall of Fame alongside the likes of ex-England Test captain Mike Denness.

So, if anyone can put Watsonians’ current successes into perspective it is an all-rounder who played his part whenever responsibilities as Cricket Scotland’s performance development manager – and the weather – allowed.

And the good news for ’Sonians is that 38-year-old Wright believes a new force is emerging in the club game with benefits accruing at top level.

He says: “The reason I joined Watsonians was because I felt I could add a bit of experience to the potential that exists in young lads such as Ewan Chalmers, Paddy Sadler, Pete Legget, Andrew Chalmers and others.

“(South African) Jean Symes played a huge part in the league win but it shouldn’t be underestimated the extent to which the team is built around promising young Scots under the captaincy of Stuart Chalmers who brought his own style and created a really good dynamic.”

Wright points out that while Watsonians may have been inactive on the concluding day due to waterlogging at Myreside with their fate fully in the hands of Carlton who obliged by beating Grange, key games were won.

“We beat Grange, Carlton and Heriot’s twice to earn our meeting with Dumfries who we also defeated in our opening pool match on the way to Sunday’s Scottish Cup Final.

“The Cup Final, against Heriot’s, didn’t go our way but that is just another reason to beat Dumfries. After the season we have had it is important to finish on a high.”

It would be a third national success for Wright to add to winning the inaugural national league with West in 1999 and another with Greenock in 2007.

Typically, though, it is all about the club so far as he is concerned. “Given Watsonians’ history, winning the Eastern Premiership is a fairly significant achievement and, having lost the Cup Final, there is another chance to win a national competition in adding to a record that includes a couple of successes in the old East League.

“We can take encouragement from showing the ability to win tight games and pivotal to our season so far was beating Heriot’s off the last ball (a wide) at Myreside back in May after they’d set us 287 to win.

“Jean Symes hit 136 despite breaking a finger which was getting increasingly sore and when he was out at the start of the final over Heriot’s understandably felt on top only to be deflated when Dewald Nel came in and immediately hit a six.

“That game provided the momentum for our season and alongside Jean it was great to see Ewan Chalmers really come into his own.

“At times Ewan kept the team going forward and in particular led run chases in the Cup.”

Not only that but Chalmers topped the Eastern Premiership batting averages on 49.33.

Added Wright: “Ewan, who has come through the ranks, has demonstrated the talent that is out there.

“Now it is up to us at Cricket Scotland to keep on creating opportunities.”

First up though comes the national play-off with Dumfries and when the teams met earlier in the pool it was – surprise, surprise – Ewan Chalmers who stole the show with a match-winning innings of 90.

Watsonians will certainly be hoping lightning can strike twice against the Doonhammers.