It was a souvenir that will endure, Saffy Sharif galloping around The Grange in unbridled euphoria once he had claimed the wicket that secured Scotland’s remarkable victory over England last summer. A priceless memory, a valuable moment of heroism that earned the pace bowler a lucrative cameo with Derbyshire and a chance on the county stage.
That he did not re-sign for this season has not prevented others from offering the 27-year-old additional spoils. “I was supposed to be playing for Kent last Sunday and Tuesday but because of Scotland camp I couldn’t,” Sharif reveals. Freedom to field offers will come next week. “I know now how to perform well in that league so I just need the opportunity,” he adds. First up, however, comes an occasion to tout his talents far and wide when Sri Lanka arrive in Edinburgh this week for a two-match One Day International series.
Two years ago, the Fifer – currently turning out in club cricket for Falkland – was an injured bystander when the former World Cup winners were humbled by the Scots in Beckenham, a seven-wicket victory no less significant for the needless over-regulation that decreed it a ‘practice match’ only.
Centuries from Kyle Coetzer and Matthew Cross were ferocious. The momentum proved even more potent. “That game was a game-changer for us,” says Sharif. “It’s when everyone started to believe that we can do well and compete against teams like that. We know they are a dangerous side. We’re not going to take them lightly. But we will try to get over the line.”
Sharif will have a delicate juggling act to pull off in the build-up to next Saturday’s opener. Ramadan makes few allowances for the rigours of sport, and the instruction to refrain from food from dawn until sunset has the potential to deny him energy when it is most required. It’s a tough compulsion, he concedes.
“It’s important to have fluids. But if I’m training or it’s a normal day, I’ll keep my fast which means fasting from 3am to 9pm now and to 10pm by the end,” he says.
The appetite to shine will remain strong, especially in the wake of Friday’s ODI defeat to Afghanistan where the monsoon of a downpour that curtailed play was less of a dampener than a DLS defeat that was effectively imposed by two runs being conceded off what would be the final ball of the match.
Scotland require wins, and ideally series triumphs, over Test-playing countries to press their case for promotion into the elite fold. The ruthlessness which was abundant against the English was short of its full length on that occasion.
“We felt we had more left in the tank,” Sharif reflects. “The Afghan batters played superbly but we could have been more aggressive. Personally, I didn’t feel I was on top of my game but that was good for getting it out of the system. When we get to Sri Lanka, we’ll know better about the role we have to play.”