Cricket: Saltires boss hails influence of Drummond and Watts

Experienced Capital-based duo Gordon Drummond and Fraser Watts have been praised by Scottish Saltires cricket coach Peter Steindl as the side prepare to begin their CB40 campaign in Edinburgh tomorrow.

Much of the talk in Scottish cricketing circles is around the promising young players coming through, and rightly so, but Steindl knows how important long-standing members of any squad are ahead of a busy summer. During the winter, 32-year-old Carlton all-rounder Drummond continued to lead his country with pride while his clubmate Watts, also 32, became his country’s most-capped player ever.

Both are in the 13-man party for tomorrow’s match with Surrey and the meeting with Nottinghamshire 24 hours later and Steindl said: “Gordon and Fraser have been buzzing over the last couple of weeks in training and it is clear for me to see that they are still as enthusiastic to want to compete and win for their country. What’s more, they are also both very talented cricketers who have a lot more to give and who work well with the younger guys in the squad. It gives us a nice balance as we head into the summer.”

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Watts, who now has over 200 caps, explained: “I have been speaking to a lot of people recently about my Scotland career and, as the old saying goes, you are a long time retired. I have seen a lot of players come and go over the years and played with a lot of good players and I still get that buzz ahead of the big matches. There is nothing better than being able to represent your country and as long as I am contributing something to the group then I hope to stay involved.”

After the disappointment of not making the ICC Twenty20 World Cup later this year after failure in the qualifying tournament in March, the squad has had to lift their heads up and get ready to face the counties again. As well as Drummond and Watts, four other players with Capital connections are in contention for the starting XI tomorrow.

Grange’s Ryan Flannigan, Carlton’s Preston Mommsen and Watsonians’ South African pro Jean Symes are joined by Ali Evans, the Carlton seamer who is now plying his trade down south with Derbyshire.

Of the last-named duo, the coach added: “By all accounts Jean has found his first few days in the country fairly cold, but he has looked quality in the nets this week and he also seems a good ‘team player’ which will be good and will help our youngsters develop on and off the pitch. Ali has come on a lot as a cricketer over the last year or so and when he joined up with us for part of the winter away, he really impressed me. He now has his chance to fight for a regular seamer’s spot with Safyaan Sharif still injured.”

A tougher start the Saltires could not have asked for, as Surrey are the holders of the CB40 title and have a squad littered with quality.

Scottish Saltires squad to face Surrey tomorrow (1pm) and Nottinghamshire on Monday (1.45pm): Fraser Watts, Ryan Flannigan, Calum MacLeod, Jean Symes, Josh Davey, Richie Berrington, Preston Mommsen, Craig Wallace, Majid Haq, Matthew Parker, Gordon Drummond, Alasdair Evans, Moneeb Iqbal.