Mark Watt turned 21 during the summer of 2017 and won the CSL Eastern Premiership with Heriot’s – two big milestones in his life, but if Scotland were to qualify for the 50-over World Cup that would certainly upstage them both.
The left arm spinner is currently in Zimbabwe with the national squad playing warm-up matches ahead of the qualifiers getting underway at the weekend.
In their opening qualifier they face Afghanistan on Sunday at the Bulawayo Athletic Club and although there are a number of good sides battling it out for two spots at the tournament proper in England next summer, Watt is confident in the side’s abilities.
“Since I came into the international fold a few years ago I think as an individual and as a team we have come on so much,” he said.
“I think that is down to a number of factors, but the main ones are Grant Bradburn and Kyle Coetzer.
“As head coach and captain they push us every day to be evolving as cricketers and as a unit and they are never satisfied with just one good result they want us to keep backing that up and showing the wider world what we are all about.
“The core group have bought into what they are trying to do with the team and where they are trying to take us and I think that culture is really healthy because it has given us great belief that we can compete on this stage.
“In the last couple of years we have also picked up some good results and been used to playing in lots of different conditions so that will stand us in good stead for this qualification event.
“Everything has been building up to this and I think we have arrived here in a good place as a unit and we all know what roles we need to perform in the team should we be selected in the XI on any given day.
“Grant is great at always making training interesting and bringing different things in like yoga and boxing to keep it all fresh and I think we feel the benefits of that.
“As a 50-over team he has also helped us move forward because he studies the world game very closely and the way the one day format is played nowadays and I think we have the players who can go out and perform the way that is needed.
“Kyle leads by example, everyone can see the quality he has with the bat while, like Grant, he is always open to new ideas and ways to help the team move forward. He sets the tone for what we do and for the younger players like me that is great.”
Having played in the Twenty20 World Cup in India back in 2016 – “that was an amazing experience for a young player and taught me so much about my game” – Watt admits the thought of playing in the 50-over version in England next summer is exciting.
And going into the qualifying event Watt is in good form having taken two wickets in each of his last two ODIs against the UAE in Dubai back in January.
He knows there will be a step-up in intensity from those clashes and the warm-up fixtures in the coming days though, but he feels he is now a more mature bowler able to handle the big stage better.
“Being a bowler in 50-over cricket is fascinating because a lot can change in the 10 overs that you are handed the ball to bowl,” he said.
“You have to be thinking each ball and watching where thee different batsmen are trying to get the ball away to and I love that side of things.
“Over the years I have learned how to change things during spells a lot more and again that is where just getting more top level cricket under your belt helps you out.
“Senior players have also helped in that regard and although he is not on this trip Con de Lange has been a big help to me.
“He has so much experience and game knowledge from all sorts of different places and situations while he has helped me with the mental side of the game.
“When you are away on long tours like this one sometimes you just have to go for walks on your own to clear your head and other times you want to be around the group having a laugh and it is making sure you get that balance right so that come game day the last match has gone from your head and you are fully focused.
“There is a good vibe around the camp at the moment and I think we are all feeling in a good place with the big games to come thick and fast.”