Cricket: Watsonians Boyd by rise of young wicket-keeper

As hand-overs go it is looking a natural changing of the wicket-keeping guard at Watsonians cricket club where regular stumper Euan Stubbs is over-seeing the introduction of teenage prospect Fraser Boyd before heading off on a one-year medical fellowship to Canada.

Boyd has claimed four victims in two Premiership matches so far this season, including Grange pro Warren McSkimming and Scotland internationalist Stuart Davidson.

Meanwhile, Stubbs has flourished as an opener with knocks of 46 and 32 while picking up catches in the outfield.

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And the bad news for tomorrow's visitors to Myreside, Stirling County, is that Stubbs is still around for a few more weeks to continue taking his run tally for the club he joined from Poloc five years ago well past the 1000 milestone achieved on the opening day of this campaign.

Before his Poloc stint, Stubbs had also gained considerable experience at Glasgow Accies, from where he helped pioneer the Scotland under-19s into world age-group competition, crossing swords in 1998 with the likes of West Indian Chris Gayle, India's Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh as well as South African Jacques Rudolph before going on to gain a senior cap away to Ireland one year later.

All of this makes Stubbs one of the most experienced performers on the scene and, as he prepares to take his temporary leave, an ideal judge of how Scottish cricket is developing. "The Scottish game has become so much more structured towards the top end and the Premier Division is as competitive as it has ever been," he said.

"Last year the title went down to the last match before Grange edged out Watsonians and while we will have to see how the new format (16 teams in a top division aiming to reach the last four group which will eventually decide the title] works out, there's no question a pathway exists allowing young players to progress in a much more straightforward fashion than there was ten to 15 years ago.

"Out of the Scotland under-19s I represented came future internationalists such as Gregor Maiden, Neil McCallum and John Blain, who captained the side. But a lot fell by the wayside as well."

It could be argued that under present arrangements Stubbs would have had a lot more than one senior cap during which, incidentally, he was not out (7 and 14) in both innings but the man who has well over 100 SNCL dismissals gives no hint of complaint when highlighting some of his experiences, including an appearance for an MCC XI at Lord's as well as the chance to tackle an Ashes hero.

"One of my most vivid memories so far was playing for Scotland under-19s against England under-18s at Jesmond and Graeme Swann hit our attack all around the ground. In those days Swann was more of a batsman than a spin bowler going in at No.4 and he certainly made an impression on us that day as a 200 total was chased down in about 20 overs.

"Another who caught the eye was Rob Key but in two innings against our Scotland under-19s he amassed seven runs."

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Watsonians certainly haven't seen the last of Stubbs, who will return from McMaster University, Ontario, better qualified but meantime he is content that, with Boyd behind the sticks they can bounce back from defeat at Grange.

"A couple of defeats won't rule any team out of the race this season, so hopefully we'll be thereabouts with young Fraser continuing to keep as tidily as he has done so far," said Stubbs.

Debuting for 'Sonians tomorrow will be ex-Glasgow Accies seamer Zafar Ali while Alex Sim is recalled with both Paddy Saddler and Mike Legget unavailable.

In looking to get off the mark at Clydesdale, Heriot's have Jed Case replacing the unavailable Gavin McIntyre.

Grange, with Stuart Moffat, Neil Wicks and Papua New Guinean Legga in for Neil McCallum Andrew Brock and Stuart Davidson will be aiming to make it three wins out of three when they visit Dunfermline and the same goes for Carlton at home to Ayr. They recall Ally Evans and Richard Metcalfe.

In the championship, it's derby day, with unbeaten SMRH awaiting Edinburgh Accies while RH Corstorphine are at home to Penicuik.

Vishal Shah replaces Rich Hannam for SMRH while Accies have Nick Murden in for Niall Sellar and Harry Paton taking over from Alistair Carmichael. Returning for RH Corstorphine are Rob More, David Ross and Craig Adams at the expense of Jo Kinghorn-Gray, Ozy Malik and Sulieman Malik.

• SMRH beat Stenhousemuir in a first round Masterton Trophy tie last night making 162 before bowling 'Muir out for 90.