A YOUNG cricketer is attempting to emulate Scotland’s current captain and fellow South African by following the same path to the international arena.
Similarities between teenager Kyle Stirling and Preston Mommsen are striking – with the odd exception.
While Mommsen, who led the Scots into a four-day game against Australia A today, arrived in Scotland from Natal on a scholarship to Gordonstoun School and qualifies on residency, Kyle Stirling, also from the Durban area, takes his nationality from his father.
So proud of his roots is Kyle that he was already well into planning the trip which has landed him at Mommsen’s Carlton club when he finally revealed Saltires ambitions to his dad.
“He was quite taken aback – and very proud,” said all-rounder Stirling, whose burst of form, particularly with the bat, singles him out as a key figure in the Carlton side that will entertain Heriot’s at Grange Loan tomorrow in an Eastern Premiership match.
It was in February that Kyle pitched up, having earned a place in the Scotland’s squad for an under-19 tour of Sri Lanka following a series of e-mail exchanges with Performance Development Manager Craig Wright, based on displays at the crack West Ville School, Durban, which was recently ranked South Africa’s No. 1.
“A professional agent helped set up my trip and I was delighted to find myself at Preston’s club,” said the 19-year-old, adding: “Preston has been a big help. He keeps talking to me, saying that I’ve got to keep working and that this experience is a good test.
“Over here, especially on slower wickets, the ball tends to move around more. It almost picks out and makes all the weaknesses in your technique more visible.
“The main thing I have been trying to work on is get my technique correct. Back home with the pitches much quicker, you can get away with things.
“Going to Sri Lanka helped a lot, too, as it was the first time many of us had been confronted by up to 40 overs of spin bowling.
“After a long spell in the field there was a premium on having to really concentrate hard.”
A major target for Kyle, who bowls medium pace, is selection for the under-19 World Cup qualifying tournament in August and a partnership of 116 with cap record holder Fraser Watts, to which he contributed 41 not out in last week’s win over Watsonians, indicates he is adjusting to conditions.
Tomorrow will be another big examination for the entire team, with Heriot’s batsman Cammy Farrell averaging a staggering 196.
Elsewhere, Barclays Grange head for Stoneywood Dyce with Gordon Goudie on Scotland duty and with Giles Holmes unable to travel. Andrew Brock returns and 17-year-old Duncan Player gets a chance to build on considerable potential.
Watsonians aim to kick start their league season at Aberdeenshire and all eyes will be on Chris Cash, who steps up after hitting a century for Watson’s College against Merchiston last week.
Heading to Arbroath are SMRH, who will make a late decision on Martin Spiers after he had to withdraw last weekend with a hamstring strain.
In the First Division, Penicuik give league debuts to Richard Adams and Nauman Hafeez when they visit Falkland looking to bounce back from a narrow defeat at West Lothian.
Penicuik, who had Carlton in a bit of trouble at 26-4 before failing to defend a modest total in a Murgitroyd Masterton Trophy tie this week, have in-form batsmen in Calum and Kris Steel, who both made half centuries last week.
Alas, Alfie Pace, fresh from a five wicket haul, is unavailable.
Also in the First Division RH Corstorphine await Dundee High on Sunday.