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A Professional Debut to Remember – Tom Sole

Gary Heatly speaks to Scot Tom Sole after his display against South Africa last Sunday for Northants

Lizzie Sleet @CricketScotland
May 26, 2017 4 years

Last Sunday Chris Sole was playing a starring role as Scotland defeated Sri Lanka in Kent – but not to be outdone younger brother Tom was having a superb top team debut for Northants at the same time.

Tom, 20, has been with the English county since last season and has been a consistent performer for their second XI.

He has had to wait for a top team outing, but a few days before they were due to play South Africa in a one day match at Wantage Road last weekend he was pulled aside by one of the coaching staff and told he would be involved.

“I was getting padded up to go into the nets at practice when they had a quiet word with me and said that I had been playing and training well and they felt I deserved a chance against South Africa,” Tom said.

“My initial reaction was one of surprise, but then I was delighted and started to focus on the match and coming up against some world class players.

Chris Sole, who took two wickets in the match- picture by Donald MacLeod

“I texted my parents and Chris and they were chuffed for me. My parents managed to make it down from Scotland to watch the first innings of the match and on the morning of the game I was a bit nervous, but feeling good.”

Since 2014 Tom’s cricket journey has really been on the up.

He finished studying at Merchiston Castle School that year and he was a member of the Scotland under-19 squad and then played a big part for Mazars Grange as they won the Scottish Cup and the Murgitroyd T20 events.

The spinning all-rounder then spent a winter at the Ben Williams Cricket Academy in the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand.

In 2015 he helped Grange win the CSL Eastern Premiership and then the Grand Final and also played a number of games for Northants second XI on trial.

That led to him being offered a two year senior academy contract with Northants and, now in his second year of that deal, he has been progressing well there.

In the South Africa match, the visitors batted first and lost Quinton de Kock early for a duck.

Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis then put on 93 for the second wicket before the latter fell for 50.

Then came Tom’s big moment, bowling to Amla and managing to get him out.

“I would like to say I outfoxed Amla and beat him in the flight,” Tom said.

“That may not quite be the case, but he did try and hit me for a boundary and did not quite catch it properly.

“As the ball was heading towards Steven Crook all I could think was ‘I really hope he catches this’ and thankfully he did and I was celebrating taking the wicket of one of the best batsmen around.

“In the end I took 1-69 and felt I could have bowled a bit better, but I was pretty happy to have been given my full allocation of overs and with them having scored 275-7 we felt that we were still in the match.”

Picture by Andy Kearns/akimages

With the South African bowling attack featuring the likes of Chris Morris, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir, Northants batsmen knew they would have to dig in to pull this one out of the bag.

And when Crook fell for 42 in the 33rd over they were seven wickets down still needing 91 runs to win.

Tom, coming in at number nine, knew there were plenty of overs left and focused on getting himself in.

He stated: “I knew the bowling would be tougher than what I had faced previously, but after a few balls I started feeling quite comfortable and when I hit my first boundary it calmed me down.

“I then got going and played some shots which I am pretty proud of and just tried to keep hold of the strike as much as I could.

“When I reached my 50 it was an amazing feeling and there was a big crowd in by that point.

“I didn’t dwell on it too much because I knew there was still a game to win. Sadly in the end we fell short by 13 runs, but what an experience and one I won’t forget in a hurry.”

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