Capital cricket star Mark Watt believes the time is right for a new challenge as he prepares to make his debut for Tynemouth today.
The 21-year-old all-rounder has a big summer coming up with the Eastern Knights and Scotland and, having helped Heriot’s win the CSL Eastern Premiership in 2017, he decided now was as good a time as any to test himself in new surroundings.
As a result he will play his first game for Tynemouth at their Preston Avenue ground on the outskirts of Newcastle against Whitburn in the North East Premier League this afternoon.
Watt learnt his cricketing trade at Leith FAB and was also a handy footballer as he progressed through Trinity Academy.
As he began to get into regional age-grade cricket squads he made the move to Heriot’s in his teens and there is no doubt that his stint at Goldenacre has been the making of him as a now regular international player.
In his early days at Heriot’s he forced his way into the first XI picture having been helped to change from a leg spin bowler to an off spinner by senior players including club pro Cameron Farrell.
Indeed, such was his form as a 15 and 16-year-old in the summer of 2012 that he was involved in the Scottish Cup final against Watsonians at Titwood in Glasgow at the end of that season.
“After the game all of my team mates and other supporters from the club were going mental and celebrating loads and, because I was so young, I probably didn’t realise just quite how much it meant to win the Scottish Cup,” Watt said.
“At that age you are just playing your cricket and enjoying yourself, but I look back now on those early years at Heriot’s as very important to my development because the senior players challenged and pushed me to get into the first team and from there opportunities came with Scotland at under-19 and then full levels.
“There was always such a good bunch of guys at Heriot’s and in those early years it was great to learn from the older guys and see how they went about their cricket.
“As the seasons went by although I was still pretty young because I was playing for Scotland and training at that level I became one of the senior players in the team and I always tried to help young players coming up from the seconds to settle into life in the first team.
“Last season we got off to a good start and as the summer went on it became clear that we were still in the mix for the title. To get over the line and lift the top flight trophy was an amazing feeling and it showed the strong leadership we had from Peter Ross and Keith Morton and the team spirit in general.
“There is never an easy time to leave a club you have grown up with, but after a victory like that I felt the time was right to test myself in a new league.
“Tynemouth seem a great club and it will be good for my development to be playing against different clubs on different wickets.”
As a contracted Cricket Scotland player, Watt will still be north of the border regularly in the coming weeks and months for training.
He will also be playing for the Knights in the regional competition which gets underway in May as he and others aim to impress ahead of the big Scotland matches with England and Pakistan at the Grange in June.
“For now my focus is on getting the summer off to a good start with Tynemouth, but obviously those international matches are on the mind,” Watt stated.
“There is a lot of cricket to be played until then and lots of players pushing for selection so it really is exciting times in Scottish cricket.”