Scottish cricket mourns loss of Willie Morton

Willie Morton has died aged 58
Willie Morton has died aged 58
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Tributes have been pouring in from the Scottish cricketing community and beyond to the former internationalist Willie Morton who collapsed and died suddenly on Friday. He was 58.

Morton, a left-arm spin bowler who served Stirling County, Watsonians, Penicuik, Warwickshire and his country with distinction during his playing days, went on to become a fine coach and head groundsman at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh.

Messages of condolence have come in from all corners of the globe such was the impact that Morton, who also had a stint playing in South Africa, had on many people.

Former Scotland captain George Salmond, who knew Morton for 31 years and latterly worked with him, said: “I was just on the fringes of the Scotland set-up around 1988 and I met Willie for the first time when we headed down to Durham University for a ‘B’ game.

“I was quite nervous, but I walked into the team hotel reception to be greeted by Willie and his great friend Bruce Russell.

“Those two were such a great laugh, they made me feel at ease straight away and having heard about the legend that was Willie Morton I soon began to love spending time in his company because he was such a brilliant, normal guy.

“I also vividly remember us batting together in a trial match at Strathmore. I was struggling to score a run and wickets were falling around me, but Morts came in, calmed me down and we put together a cracking partnership and really enjoyed it.

“It was an honour to be a team mate, opponent, work colleague and friend of Willie, a gem of a human being, loved by all.”

Stirling-born Morton made his first-class debut in 1982 for Scotland in a match against Ireland. He was at Warwickshire from 1984-85 and played ten first class matches for the county. In total, he took 29 first-class wickets at an average of 34.58.

Another former Scotland captain, Craig Wright, said: “Devastating news that this champion of a bloke has left us far too soon. It was an absolute privilege to have known Willie Morton and spent many fun times with him at cricket grounds around the country and overseas.

“He had a huge influence on many young Scottish players and the wider Scottish cricket community and will be sadly missed.”

Morton helped bring many talented young cricketers through during his time coaching the Scotland under-19 team.

One of the players who learnt a lot from Morton was current Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer. He said: “I am so gutted to hear about the passing of Willie Morton.

“I was lucky to be coached by him and share some very special memories with the great man.”

Watsonians cricket club called off all fixtures yesterday as a mark of respect while Heriot’s, where Morton’s son Keith is first XI skipper, said in a club statement: “We are devastated. Willie was a great role model and a total gentleman to be around. Our thoughts and prayers are with our club captain Keith and his family and friends.”