Cricket: Josh Davey keen to make his mark

Scotland's Josh Davey in action against Ireland. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
Scotland's Josh Davey in action against Ireland. 'Picture: Neil Hanna
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He has played only 18 one-day internationals and considers himself “a batting all-rounder” - but Josh Davey’s bowling will be crucial to Scotland’s search for a first ever win at the World Cup.

The 24-year-old has twice rewritten his country’s record books with what he claims is his secondary skill, taking six for 28 against Afghanistan last month to break his own mark of five for nine against the same opposition in 2010.

With Afghanistan awaiting in Pool A, Preston Mommsen’s team will hope to finally break their duck in the game’s showpiece international tournament - having lost all eight games across their previous two outings.

Before that clash, they will open their campaign against co-hosts New Zealand in Dunedin in front of 6,000 spectators at a sold-out University Oval.

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“That’s the pinnacle of Scottish cricket really, to play in front of a big crowd like that will be a great showcase and a great ‘opening ceremony’ for us,” Davey told Press Association Sport.

“I think it’s the strongest Scotland squad we’ve had at a World Cup so we want to go and showcase our skills and obviously get that first win.

“With the bat there’s Kyle Coetzer, Richie Berrington, Matt Machan, they’ve all played big innings for Scotland.

“With the ball, you look at Iain Wardlaw - he’s a good bowler, he’s a wicket-taker. I think Majid Haq as well, he’s a good spinner.”

Former Yorkshire paceman Wardlaw is in line to share new-ball duties with Davey, especially after taking the other four wickets to Davey’s historic half-dozen as Afghanistan were rolled for 63 in Abu Dhabi.

“There are a few guys who can take the new ball but that was about as good as it gets as an opening partnership,” said Davey, whose elevation to the role has coincided with a drop down the batting card from number three or four to the lower middle order.

“I do see myself more as a batting all-rounder really, but that’s the role that’s working for the team.”

England also feature in Pool A, another game which is sure to be a highlight for Scotland and Davey - who is familiar with England’s new one-day captain Eoin Morgan, as well as Steven Finn, from his spell on Middlesex’s books.

Finn’s return to form, with five wickets in the recent nine-wicket win over India, makes him a key bowler once again for his country, while Morgan’s leadership will be scrutinised after taking over from Alastair Cook.

“They’re world-class players,” said Davey. “It’s great to get a chance against players like that.

“I think you saw in the performance against India that the squad’s together under Eoin. He’s a good player and a good man, and he’ll lead by example.”

For all his recent impact with his country, Davey has yet to break through at county level.

He was released by Middlesex in 2013, at which point he had also played only three ODIs in two years and his career appeared to be on the wane.

But having recently secured a second season on Somerset’s books, he need not look far for an example of what a good performance at an international tournament can do for a player’s domestic chances.

Ireland spinner George Dockrell followed up his breakthrough three for 16 against hosts the West Indies at the World Twenty20 the previous year with seven wickets at 29.57 in the 2011 World Cup - again haunting the hosts with two against each of India and Bangladesh.

He has since carved out a role in all formats at Taunton and, asked if he could follow suit, Davey said: “(The World Cup is) a great stage on which to hopefully showcase your skills.

“I do want to play more county cricket and first-class cricket. I’m happy where I am at Somerset, I’ve got a one-year contract.

“I had a difficult 18 months or so, losing my contract at Middlesex, so hopefully I can kick-start my career.”

His claims could perhaps best be enhanced by a repeat of his last performance against England.

The teams met in his native Aberdeen last May, with Davey taking three for 28 in a 39-run defeat under the Duckworth-Lewis method in a game reduced to 20 overs a side.

Danger man Jos Buttler was caught in the deep and when Joe Root and Ravi Bopara followed in the last over, Davey had the chance of a hat-trick.

“All caught on the boundary,” he recalled, “but a hat-trick’s a hat-trick!”

Gary Ballance thwarted him on that occasion but perhaps Davey can finish the job in Christchurch. If so, his and Scotland’s long-term aims will be well served.