Not only will it be his home Scotland cricket debut against Pakistan at Raeburn Place tomorrow but, for Yorkshire-based seamer Iain Wardlaw, an opening delivery will be the first-ever bowled by him in earnest north of the Border.
When it comes to going in a the deep end, though, this family-qualified Scot has some experience.
“I was given my debut for Yorkshire in a Roses match against Lancashire and a full Headingley is quite a place to play – especially when you have it drummed into you about all the tradition and the fact the county’s name is known throughout world cricket,” says Wardlaw.
From Freddie Trueman to Darren Gough to Matthew Hoggard to Ryan Sidebottom, the white rose county has produced some outstanding quicks for England but Wardlaw was only too aware that international regulations were about to change last year creating opportunities to honour the country of his dad, Billy’s, birth.
For the first time, associate member country’s were allowed to take advantage of the parentage rule which has seen not only Wardlaw but Rob Taylor (Leicestershire), David Murphy (Northants), Matt Machan (Sussex) and ex-Warwickshire all-rounder Neil Carter enlisted.
Adds Wardlaw: “When I was coming through (former Scotland bowler) John Blain was in the last six months of his stint coaching at Yorkshire and another Scot, Gavin Hamilton, was an opponent in the local leagues when I was turning out for Cleckheaton and he was at East Bierley.
“John was great at pushing me as a player and getting me into the Yorkshire set-up and it was Gavin I asked for advice about how things worked in Scottish cricket.
“When the call came for a trip to Dubai at the beginning of this year I was delighted and it probably helped that there were a few of us selected at the same time under new eligibility rules.
“My dad couldn’t have been prouder and along with my mum, Pauline, will be in the crowd at Raeburn Place having thought hard about travelling out to Dubai for our matches against Afghanistan and my debut before the cost became prohibitive.”
Pakistan have brought a squad full of notables as they lead up to the Champions Trophy in England this summer and are far from an unknown quantity to Wardlaw.
“I was able to get the wicket of Pakistan’s Shoab Malik in a Champions League match,” recalled Wardlaw, whose victims also included the prized scalp of India captain MS Dhoni in the same competition for Yorkshire in South Africa last Autumn. The chance with Scotland might never have come 28-year-old Wardlaw’s way, though, if he hadn’t put his ambitions on the line in 2011.
“I was working in a design agency office having left university and realised all my holidays had been used up turning out for Yorkshire 2nd team.
“Things couldn’t go on as they were and I made the approach for a contract.
“I hadn’t quite given up on playing professionally and I just had to ask. Fortunately the request paid off for me. My current contract runs until next year and I feel even though it is difficult to get into the Yorkshire side just now with Tim Bresnan back from England and new signings in Liam Plunkett (ex-Durham) and Jack Brooks (ex-Northants) I have improved a lot in the past year.
“Playing with Scotland against Afghanistan in Dubai was tough and a bit of an eye opener but very useful as was travelling to Barbados with Yorkshire in pre-season.
“I also bought into the coaching of Jason Gillespie (ex-Australia fast bowler) at Yorkshire and feel ready to play a part in what are hopefully exciting times for Scottish cricket,” says the man who insists he literally fell into cricket when, as a toddler, he wandered into his local club in Dewsbury and began to be imbued with a spirit which he describes as ‘if you can play at Yorkshire you can do it anywhere’.
As from next season, Scotland’s days of competing domestically with English counties will be over and the Pakistan one-day internationals tomorrow and Sunday represent a chance to strike out and re-assert identity.
“It will be great to stand up and see where we are at,” says Wardlaw, adding, “but it is a young squad with a fair mix of experience and I couldn’t have been integrated any better.”
Meanwhile, Pakistan, whose batting coach at the Champions Trophy will be 2003 Grange professional Trent Woodhill, from Australia, will be captained by Misbah-ul-Haq.
Scotland squad: Kyle Coetzer (Captain), Preston Mommsen, Richie Berrington, Neil Carter, Freddie Coleman, Josh Davey, Gordon Drummond, Majid Haq, Moneeb Iqbal, Matt Machan, David Murphy, Rob Taylor, Iain Wardlaw.
Pakistan squad: Nasir Jamshed, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Malik, Umar Amin, Kamran Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Asad Ali, Ehsan Adil and Wahab Riaz.