Cricket: Gavin looking to be Main man for Scotland

Gavin Main of Scotland bowls during the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2014 match between India and Scotland. picture: Getty
Gavin Main of Scotland bowls during the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2014 match between India and Scotland. picture: Getty
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Stuart Broad, he of England fame, was among the debutant’s wickets. “I’d always watched championship cricket and thought it was a league above, which it is,” Main recounts “I always wondered if I’d be successful in it, if I ever got there. And once I’d played, it was a massive relief because I took the view that I’d at least made a start to my career. And that it’s the same as any other cricket: if you bowl a good ball, then they respect it.”

Line and length has been drummed into the Lanark-born prospect, even since he earned a place at Durham’s Academy four years ago. And although he remains on the reserve list at The Riverside, he harbours ambitions to cement his place in the Scotland attack for the next decade, with today’s Twenty20 international with Ireland at Bready providing one further chance to press his cause.

He took 1-21 with the ball last night as the Scots secured an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series with a six-wicket victory, surpassing the Irish tally of 166-8 with eleven balls to spare behind an unbeaten 47 from Preston Mommsen and a quickfire knock of 48 from Matthew Cross.

The primary goal, however, is next month’s World T20 qualifiers and Main is among those recruited for his specialist skills in the shorter format. For any young cricketer of the current generation, those are gifts worth their weight in gold. 20 overs is where the money lies, not just in the riches of the Indian Premier League but in the growing global circuit that, even for a few weeks’ work in the off-season, can contribute heavily to the pension plan.

“That’s not for me,” Main proclaims in an idealist protest. “My primary focus is the longer format and I think my skills are suited to it. And I’ve always enjoyed that challenge. I’d love to play T20 but the four-day stuff comes first.”

Prudence indeed, having recently completed the first year of a degree in finance at Glasgow Caledonian University. Cricket must, by necessity, remain his focus. Studies may yet be put on hold. Main only plumped to begin the course when he found himself sidelined last autumn by a stress fracture in his back that left him with ample free hours he did not wish to entirely waste.

Coming so soon after his first-class breakthrough, it was an untimely knock, more so when the injury bug spread through Durham’s ranks. “So I’ll never know what might have happened if I’d been fit. But I was really keen to push for the World Cup squad and that took me out of going away with the team in October.”

The 2013 county champions, who have regularly looked north, set the bar high for those wishing to establish themselves. Graham Onions, Chris Rushworth and John Hastings are reliable servants. Paul Collingwood, at 39, is not easing quietly into retirement.

“I’ve been around a few of the squads so I’m not feeling too far off,” Main asserts. Being away for a large chunk of the summer could potentially leave a man out of mind, a commitment which Sussex’s Scotland all-rounder Matt Machan was unprepared to accept. His occasional colleague, however, has received assurances that his progress will be monitored.

“They’ve been very good with it all really,” Main adds. “Jon Lewis spoke to me to say he thought it was an important stage in my development and it would be good for me. I think they’ve got enough seamers kicking about that they’re not worried about being a bowler short. It would be nice to push for selection but on the other hand, it’s important to be playing for Scotland.”

A sweep of Ireland would be the ideal bounty this afternoon. “We want to set a benchmark ahead of the tournament,” Main adds. “We see ourselves as equal to them.”