AFTER three years at Lord’s, Middlesex’s director of cricket Angus Fraser was ushering former charge Josh Davey towards the exit door.
At 23, it was a place the Aberdeen-born bowler had no wish to be.
“Angus Fraser said it would be the best thing for me, that I’d hit a wall at Middlesex, that I wasn’t really going anywhere,” Davey recounts. “He all but said I need a kick up the arse to get going.” England’s one-time bowler and present-day selector had provided a shrewd analysis, he now admits.
Left out, almost simultaneously from Scotland’s winter tours to UAE and New Zealand, the responsibility was his, and his alone, to plot a path away from the brink. “I needed a bit of a reality check,” he says. “It was quite difficult. But it gave me that kick. I told myself how much I wanted it.”
Fortunately salvation has been swift to arrive. Supplications to other counties brought a call from Taunton and an offer of a trial. Somerset’s Dave Nosworthy suspected Davey had unrealised potential and handed him an audition, and then subsequently a contract through to the end of this summer. Scotland, in tandem, took due notice and recalled Davey for Friday’s one-day international with England. Three wickets from the returnee were not enough to hold off defeat. Still, it was another step forward.
There had been no Plan B, Davey reveals. “I promised myself I’d stick it out somehow for a summer, just to see if I could play somewhere. But I was always confident. I backed my own ability.”
Nothing is yet assured. Although the Scot impressed in a five-wicket turn in pre-season against Middlesex, newcomers enter at the foot of the pecking order. Hence he has been asked to press his case amid Somerset’s second XI while hoping that his eye for quick runs will make him a candidate for inclusion when the ECB’s re-branded T20 Blast launches next weekend.
His performance at a sodden Mannofield will have done him no harm. However, any sense of entitlement has been washed away.
Scotland will reunite next month for a series with the Netherlands with positives to take from their game with England: sharp fielding, ample resolve, enough to reassure incoming coach Grant Bradburn. With a big year ahead, Davey sees opportunities beckon. “The World Cup is something I’m thinking of. If I put good performances in for Somerset, hopefully I’ll keep my place.”
Meanwhile, Cricket Scotland will learn this week if they are to receive the six-figure cash injection required to construct a dedicated home for the sport in Stirling. The technical committee of the International Cricket Council is to meet in Papua New Guinea to consider proposals for a start-of-the-art training centre as well as the creation of a ground that meets Test match standards.
Privately, ICC officials are concerned over the monies to be directed towards Associate nations, once the Indian-led axis assumes effective control of the sport’s governing body later this year.
Despite talk of enlarged support for ambitious countries such as Ireland and Scotland, no notional sums have yet been ring-fenced.
However, Cricket Scotland’s chief executive Roddy Smith is confident that another slice of the £2.5 million required for Project Stirling will be advanced.
“They’ve not given us a clear commitment,” he said. “But it is our biggest need. We have professional cricketers training in amateur surroundings. And the other positive is that it could be used for other teams in the summer to come here and train or play games. That’s a huge selling point.”