Cricket: Age not before duty for ‘veteran’ Fraser Watts in T20

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Father Time is creeping up on Fraser Watts. At the tender age of 32, he has now acquired the status of veteran amid the country’s cricketing young guns but he will not be quietly consigned to international retirement.

“I’m two years older than anybody else, which is a bit scary,” he says. As one of the two players remaining from the World Cup of 2007, Watts has been a constant during the generational shift.

“I’m still as excited now, especially when the team has changed so much,” he declares. “I still want to be part of it. I’m glad to be part of it. We’ve got young guys doing well and they want to be even more skilful. It makes it more of a challenge for me to stay in the side but that’s something I enjoy taking on.”

Watts would dearly love to appear in at least one more global showpiece before he shuffles off.

And opportunity knocks. Starting on Tuesday in Dubai, Scotland can engineer an appearance in September’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. Sixteen teams will scrap it out for two berths available via the 12-day qualifying event.

Kenya will be the first opponents for Gordon Drummond’s men, with favourites Ireland lying in wait. Even minnows Italy cannot be discounted when they can include former Australian batsman Michael Di Venuto in their side.

Losing 2-0 to hosts UAE in last week’s one-day series was not the ideal build-up but Scotland must forget that, and move on, Watts states.

For many in this youthful squad, the chance to feature in a major tournament would be a new experience. Age, he affirms, should be no barrier to excellence.

“The team is very young and very flexible,” he says. “A lot of guys bat and bowl. We’ve a very strong fielding unit. That fits in very well with the Twenty20 format where you need to be adaptable. Having a young side is no bad thing. And within that, there’s still quite a lot of experience. Some of those guys have played a fair number of games already.”

One of the new crop has already bowed out. The knee injury aggravating Josh Davey will see him replaced by Simon Smith. It is a setback but not a fatal blow.

However, inside just 20 overs, the unexpected can occur.

“It is a bit of a lottery,” Watts acknowledges. “It will come down to which team is best prepared and most adaptable to different situations and able to cope with the pressure. Twenty20 changes. You have to roll with that.”

Last week, the International Cricket Council’s board recommended that four Associate nations should gain entry into the 2014 World Twenty20.

Watts, understandably impatient, wishes their additional benevolence had come sooner. It is reach the qualifying final on March 24 or bust. “Being at any World Cup gives us more airtime and more exposure against the top dogs and that’s what we really need,” says Watts.