Sandy Strang: McLister a gem waiting to be unearthed

IT was one of only two SNCL Championship matches to survive Saturday's atrociously-inclement weather. RH Corstorphine versus Kelburne. Ostensibly not the most mouth-watering fixture on the card. But it featured a rising star of Scottish cricket. Mark my words. Whitehaugh all-rounder Steven McLister, just 21, has what it takes to go all the way to the top as a batting all-rounder.

Supremely athletic, immensely powerful, technically very correct, and with a nice upright stance, he has the lot. He strode to the Barnton wicket on Saturday in the 35th over, and in the ensuing 45 minutes launched a massive assault on the Corstorphine attack. This wasn't random slogging. This was magically improvised strokeplay. Even the normally parsimonious off-spin of overseas amateur Jason Biddulph received the full McLister treatment as he raced to an unbeaten 75. McLister is no mean seam bowler either, having claimed 23 SNCL wickets last year with the new ball in a struggling side, and he's a stand-out in the field.

So how come he's relatively unheralded outwith his native Paisley? In the prevailing euphemistic sports management jargon he's a "radar" player, a hidden gem who, for some time, has mysteriously slipped under the national developmental radar. Cricket Scotland's Head of Community Performance and their regional advisor to the selectors have been variously alerted, and have pledged to run the rule over him in the coming weeks. They'll assuredly like what they see, and presumably get to work on honing a huge raw talent.

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McLister is reminiscent of a young Greig Williamson, now 42, but still plying his all-rounder trade in the Premiership at Titwood, and rightly proud of his 153 caps. Yet when Williamson initially broke through as a youngster into the Clydesdale and Scotland teams in the late 80s, he enjoyed the attendant patronage and publicity which came from featuring in a high-profile club side - at that time, they competed in five successive Scottish Cup finals. Recognition, fully deserved, was also duly swift.

Contrast McLister's venerable Kelburne club, steeped in history, but only recently returned to the domestic top table after eight years in the Western Union wilderness, and starved of the necessary promotional oxygen of mainstream publicity. McLister, though, has the ability and the strength of character - he displayed a splendid, youth-belying maturity in testing circumstances as captain last year - to force his way upwards by sheer performance. Remember the name. Steven McLister.