Cricket: Matt Machan aims to make mark on tour of South Africa

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MATT Machan is probably not someone many cricket supporters north of the border had heard of until recently, when he was named in the Scotland XI squad to tour South Africa but, as the players prepare to jet off this weekend, he is aiming to make a name for himself in the coming weeks.

When the touring party of 15 was named for the developmental tour the big news would normally have been the selection of Stoneywood-Dyce’s impressive young talent Michael Leask.

However, he was slightly overshadowed by the names of Machan, Rob Taylor, David Murphy and Richard Coughtrie on the list with a change in the ICC regulations enabling players with both British passports and Scottish parentage to play, and allowing them to be picked.

Top order batsman Machan is eligible through his Glasgow-born mother who left Scotland when she was a teenager to move to Brighton.

“Mum has often been up to Scotland to visit family and old friends over the years and I have been up a couple of times when cricket commitments allowed,” said 21-year-old Machan.

“When I heard about the new ruling I was keen to find out more because to play international cricket is a dream. I then heard back via email that I was eligible and I am looking forward to linking up with the guys and doing the very best I can over the next month.”

Having been educated at Brighton College, Machan is following in the footsteps of another former pupil in striving to wear the thistle of Scotland.

Rugby union starlet Harry Leonard, who is now with Edinburgh and captained Scotland under-20s during the recent World Championships, was in the year below Machan at school.

Machan has been involved with Sussex County Cricket Club since the age of ten and made his second XI debut for them at the age of 15 in 2006. He said: “It was a big honour to be selected so young, in hindsight maybe I was too young but, since then, I have worked really hard at my game and feel my batting is still improving.

“I have a lot of second-team cricket under my belt and you learn a lot at that level while, when I have managed to break into our strong first XI, I feel I have done pretty well.”

Certainly he has learned a lot about one day and T20 batting from the likes of Luke Wright and Kiwi Scott Styris while at Hove and he has also honed his talent abroad for a number of winters.

He will not be doing that this winter, instead taking off a couple of months to rest and then work on his fitness but, before that, the left-hander is very excited to be heading to South Africa with the Scotland XI for the non-cap tour.

“We are playing all forms of cricket while we are over there so it will give all of us a chance to show what we can do. There are a few new faces in the squad and I don’t know a lot of the guys, but I am sure we will all settle in quickly and get down to business,” he added.

The players fly out to South Africa tomorrow and will be based at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom, North West Province.

The first matches take place on Tuesday with T20s against the Highveldt Lions and the Kolkata Knight Riders.

Squad: Preston Mommsen (captain), Richie Berrington, Richard Coughtrie, Josh Davey, Alistair Evans, Ryan Flannigan, Gordon Goudie, Majid Haq, Moneeb Iqbal, Michael Leask, Matt Machan, Calum MacLeod, David Murphy, Safyaan Sharif, Rob Taylor.