Brad Wheal grew up in South Africa, but if he takes wickets in the two One Day Internationals at The Grange on Saturday and next Tuesday against Sri Lanka expect to hear the loud cheers from his west of Scotland-based family members who will be present at the Edinburgh ground.
His mother Lorraine will also be keeping a close eye on the fixtures from afar in Durban as she is very proud that the seam bowler, now 22, is representing her country of birth.
Growing up in Durban, Brad always knew about his mum’s Scottish roots and he made a few trips to Scotland with his family in school holidays.
He also remembers being sent a Kilmarnock football strip and scarf in the post to keep him connected with Scotland and when he played his first ODI for the country in January 2016 against Hong Kong in Mong Kok he was a happy boy.
Brad’s cricketing adventure began at school in Durban where he played to a good level before being spotted by Dale Benkenstein who took him over to county side Hampshire in England on a development contract in 2015.
“It was a big move for someone of my age, but I wanted to see how far I could take my cricket at the time and I managed to settle in pretty quickly at Hampshire,” Brad, who now has 12 ODI and five T20I caps to his name, recounts.
“I think I was comfortable quite early because there is a great culture and environment at the club and they involve the young lads while at that time I had a lot of good bowlers like Fidel Edwards and Gareth Berg to learn from.
“In terms of my bowling it was a steep learning curve for me, but some injuries that season to others gave me first team opportunities quite early on and that settled me down a bit and made me feel like I belonged.”
So how did the Scottish connection come about?
“My mum was born in Glasgow and she still has family there in and around Kilmarnock,” he explains.
“I remember ending up with a Kilmarnock scarf and jersey sent to me out in South Africa, so I suppose I became a Kilmarnock fan! I think before I started playing for Scotland I had been over here for trips four or five times to see family which was really nice.
“The cricket connection with the Scots just sort of happened when I came over to Hampshire. When Scotland were preparing for the World T20 qualifiers in 2015 Grant Bradburn [then head coach] was down at Hampshire at one point and we had a chat and things went from there.
“I ended up playing for Scotland ‘A’ against the MCC in Glasgow and then went on my first full tour with the national team to Hong Kong in early 2016.
“The boys were so welcoming and I felt part of things right away so that was great. I didn’t know a lot of the guys before that, but it was a good tour apart from some poor weather and it really gave me a taste for playing on the international scene with that group of guys.”
Since then Brad has continued on a learning curve with Hampshire and Scotland and by the time last year’s ODI World Cup qualifiers came around he was a focal point of the country’s bowling attack.
“It was such a good trip to Zimbabwe for us apart from a couple of results that didn’t go our way,” he said.
“We would have obviously loved to be heading into a World Cup now, but it was a bit of a turning point for us. We really showed what we could do and were up there with the best teams out there.
“Some of the performances put us on the map a bit and as a team and as a bowling attack we came away from it really determined to kick on and get even better.”
Off the back of that event in which Brad took 12 wickets he was named in the squad to face England last June at The Grange, but he suffered a stress fracture in his back just before travelling northwards from Hampshire.
The strain of bowling for three and a bit seasons in a row had taken its toll on his body and rest and recuperation was needed.
Brad watched that famous victory on the television in his flat – “I was resting, but jumping up and down at times!” – and then was out for a number of months before getting back to bowling at the tail end of 2018.
He explains: “It was tough being out for so long, I must admit, but I knew that those six or seven months on the sidelines were needed to get me firing again.
“I was back for some winter training with Hampshire before having a nice break back home in Durban and then I headed out to La Manga with Hampshire for a pre-season camp.
“I missed the Oman tour and the La Manga trip with Scotland, but things have started nicely this summer with Hampshire and Scotland under Shane Burger so long may that continue.
“Working under Shane has been great so far, I really like the way that he gets his message across and I was pleased to have my gran and my uncle over from the west in the crowd for last Friday’s Afghanistan match.
“I know they, my mum and other family members are very proud when they see me singing ‘Flower of Scotland’ and then playing in the dark blue – I hope I can continue doing that for a long time to come.”
Squad for Sri Lanka: Kyle Coetzer (captain), Dylan Budge, Scott Cameron (cover), Matthew Cross (wk), Alasdair Evans, Michael Jones, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, Gavin Main, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Tom Sole, Craig Wallace, Mark Watt, Brad Wheal