Scotland’s Michael Leask believes there is a lot more to come from Capital teenager Mark Watt after the latter starred – along with man of the match George Munsey – in the hosts’ opening win in the ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers against the UAE.
Heriot’s man Watt had performed well in the warm-up matches earlier in the week and, although there were Sky Sports television cameras and more friends and family watching him at The Grange this time around, the 18-year-old showed no nerves.
The spinner took 3-28 from his four overs yesterday and fellow spinner Leask also took three wickets as the UAE were bowled out for 109 batting first in Stockbridge in the Group B match.
In Scotland’s reply, opening batsmen Munsey, of Mazars Grange, and Kyle Coetzer played some cracking shots in a partnership of 96 runs in just eight overs.
Munsey showed the wider cricketing public the skills he has shown those who have watched Grange regularly this summer, the left-hander cracking 11 4s and one 6 on his way to making 62 not out from just 36 balls.
Coetzer made 39 from only 16 balls and eventually Scotland won by nine wickets with an amazing 10 overs still to spare.
As a result it was smiles all round for the Scotland team and Autoecosse Forfarshire man Leask, 24, said: “Mark Watt has come into the team and done very, very well. I think he is an excellent spinner at this level and he has taken to international cricket like a duck to water.
“To be able to bowl at the other end when he is bowling so many dots, creating pressure and taking wickets certainly makes my job easier.
“Our fielding and bowling set the tone and I think myself and Mark along with the seamers did a pretty good job to restrict them to 109.
“I wouldn’t have said it was a spinners wicket. I wasn’t finding much turn, but it was more strings of dot balls that helped because then we knew they would go for the big shots.
“They wanted boundaries so we had fielders out in the deep and everyone played their part and there were some good catches taken.
“As for the batting ... well it was outstanding. George and Kyle just blew their bowling attack away. They took a couple of overs to see how the wicket was playing and then they flew into action.
“I think there was something like 11 boundaries in 12 balls at one point and I think that shows just how much freedom the boys at the top of the order are playing with at the moment.
I think there will be tougher challenges to come, but the UAE have been tough on us in the past. The Netherlands and Afghanistan will be hard this weekend, but we can go into the games confident because we have managed to build up some good form.”
Despite a comfortable win, Scotland had not got off to the best of starts in this one with Faizan Asif striking some early boundaries before he became Carlton man Ali Evans’ sole victim.
Munsey took three good catches and Calum MacLeod instigated a sharp run out as Scotland began to put the squeeze on and the UAE fell to 80-8.
Although 19 not out from Mohammad Naveed helped them reach 109, it was never going to be enough to trouble the Scots.
Meanwhile, Scotland skipper Preston Mommsen thought that 160 would have been a good score – so he was delighted with his bowlers.
“I think the UAE got off to a pretty good start, but we knew if we hung in, they would present us chances,” the Carlton man said.
“I think spinners will have a big part to play in this tournament and ours did well in this game.
“We’ve also got a long and dynamic batting line-up – we want to play positive cricket and the start we have had in this one hopefully sets the tone.”
Next up for Mommsen and co is the Netherlands at The Grange at 10am tomorrow, while on Sunday they take on Afghanistan at the same ground at 2.15pm.
In the afternoon match in Stockbridge, Afghanistan defeated the Netherlands by 32 runs. Batting first, the victors made 162-7, Samiullah Shenwari making 44, before bowling out their opponents for 130.