Chris McBride has taken the road less travelled from Dumfries to Dubai – with stops in Durham, Newcastle in Australia and Oxford along the way – as he looks to make his Scotland men’s debut on the current tour in the UAE.
A 15-strong squad, being led by interim head coach Craig Wright, are now in Dubai to play in a Cricket World Cup League 2 50-over series versus Papua New Guinea and Oman with the former first up on Saturday (6.30am UK time).
And, along with Brad Currie and Fin McCreath, McBride is looking to earn his first cap on the four-game tour which is an important one which will see Scotland play their first competitive outings since the ICC T20 World Cup in October and November last year.
So, how did batting all-rounder McBride, the now 23-year-old who has already played age-grade and ‘A’ team cricket for his country, get into the game in the first place?
Well, McBride’s older brothers were already playing for local club Dumfries by the time he took an interest aged five and wanted to follow in their footsteps.
“My brothers are seven and nine years older than me, so they were playing for the club as I grew up, so I guess it was a natural progression for me to get involved in the sport too,” he said.
“I played at the club until I was 15 and I loved that, it was great to learn from older players once I broke into the senior teams there and when I was getting games under my belts for the second XI, I’d often watch my brothers play in the first XI and was keen to get there myself.
“I managed to do that and played about half a season at that level when I was 14/15 while, because I was at school in Carlisle, I played some representative cricket for Cumbria in my teens.
“That led to me getting a chance to play for the Durham Academy and I did that for the next few years – and also played for the second XI there – until I was 19.
“I was fortunate to work with some great coaches and some great players there and as a young player it was a great environment and I just tried to soak up as much information and knowledge as possible.
“After a spell out in Australia with a club called Wests in Newcastle, I was then released by Durham, but kept in contact with the club while I decided to head south to complete a degree at Oxford Brookes University.
“There I completed an undergraduate degree in Economics between 2018 and last summer and I am currently still based down there studying for a masters degree in real estate.
“I was also keen to go there because they have a good cricket set-up which allows you to balance that with your studies and also play against first class counties from time to time.”
He is aiming to graduate and qualify to become a surveyor this summer while he is currently the Oxford Brookes cricket captain and has played two first class matches during his time studying.
They were against Hampshire and Middlesex and mean that McBride has tested himself with bat in hand against the likes of West Indian internationalist Fidel Edwards and South African cap Kyle Abbott.
McBride has always been predominantly a top order batter while he bowled leg spin whilst growing up playing at Dumfries.
While at Durham – when he also played for local clubs in the Newcastle area – he became more of a medium pacer and, if he gets a chance to play in the next week, will aim to do a job for his country with the ball as well as with the bat.
“In terms of this chance with Scotland, well I have worked hard for it over the last few years and I feel I am ready to give it my all if selected for any of the matches against PNG and Oman,” he said.
“I have been involved with the ‘A’ team and the Performance Academy in recent years while, of late, I have trained a lot with the core squad and everyone has been really welcoming.
“Obviously the conditions will be different to anything that I have had to deal with back home, but I will adapt and I know that my family and friends are really chuffed that I have made it this far.
“I just have to keep working hard and learning.”
After the PNG game on Saturday, Scotland will take on Oman on Sunday, PNG next Wednesday and Oman next Friday. Scotland squad: Kyle Coetzer (C), Richie Berrington, Dylan Budge, Brad Currie, Matthew Cross, Michael Leask, Gavin Main, Calum MacLeod, Chris McBride, Fin McCreath, George Munsey, Adrian Neill, Safyaan Sharif, Hamza Tahir, Mark Watt.