Young Capital cricketer Mark Watt is aiming to force his way into the full Scotland team in the coming months by continuing to perform well for Heriot’s and the Highlanders.
The 18-year-old spinner has had a great start to the season, taking six wickets in two matches for the Goldenacre side in the CSL Eastern Premiership and playing for the Highlanders as they beat the Reivers in a 50-over match on Monday.
And, like fellow Edinburgh-based youngster Tom Sole, who plays for Mazars Grange, Watt is benefiting from a spell spent in New Zealand over the winter at the Ben Williams Cricket Academy in the Bay of Plenty.
Watt, who was in Scotland’s extended squad for the World Cup, said: “It was great to spend three months in New Zealand really working on my game.
“In 2014, I played a lot of cricket at home for Heriot’s, the Highlanders and representative teams, but to go far away from home into a new environment taught me a lot about myself and my game.
“I was surrounded by high-quality players all of the time and bowling to them was a challenge while I worked very hard on my batting with the aim of being able to bat further up the order for any of the teams I play for.”
The left-hander’s rise from Leith FAB to Heriot’s has been rapid, but Watt seems to take it all in his stride and now has his sights set on earning Scotland caps.
“It was a big boost for me getting into the extended squad for the World Cup. Although I didn’t make the cut in the end, it showed me that I am in the coach’s thoughts and I have to keep things that way by playing well,” Watt said. “I enjoyed being with the full squad last year in Dubai and hopefully I will be with them more in 2015.
“There are a lot of good players pushing for places, though, so I know it will not be easy, I will just keep my head down and work on my own game.”
Watt’s next chance to impress Scotland head coach Grant Bradburn and his coaching team is likely to come on Friday when the North Sea Pro Series begins.
The T20 event features Scottish sides – the Highlanders and the Reivers – as well as two Dutch sides, the Hurricanes and the Seafarers, and bids to bridge the gap between the club game and international cricket.
The opening fixtures takes place at Titwood, Glasgow, with the two Scottish teams meeting in two matches.
The Highlanders head into the event as reigning champions and, with the World Cup T20 qualifiers being held in Scotland later in the summer, there are certainly a lot of players aiming to impress.
Watt said: “I really enjoyed playing for the Highlanders last season as for young players it helped expose us to a better standard of cricket and was a test. As a spinner, you have to really have your wits about you when bowling in T20 matches because every batsman is looking to get after you from ball one. You have to vary your line and pace quite a lot and be thinking all of the time, it is a challenge I really enjoy.”
Like many other young sportsmen aiming to reach the heights, Watt has to try and balance his cricket training with his studies at Edinburgh College.
“It can be a bit of a juggling act at times, but I am determined to keep pushing on,” he concluded.