Given the men’s national team have not been able to play a match for over a year now, the sight of one of the Scotland squad members playing competitive cricket of late has been a joy to behold.
Chris Greaves, the 30-year-old all-rounder, has been in and around the squad since a camp in La Manga, Spain, in late 2018 and he went on his first tour to Oman in early 2019.
During that calendar year he waited patiently on the fringes of the first XI in a bid to make his full debut and was ready to kick-on in 2020 before the pandemic hit the world and saw cricket, at least at an Associate level, pretty much wiped out across the board.
That has left most of Shane Burger’s squad kicking their heels for the last few months, but with lots of important international matches on the horizon when restrictions ease and then a T20 World Cup in India in October and November to build towards, Chris was keen to get some cricket under his belt if at all possible early in 2021.
The man who qualifies for Scotland on residency grounds takes up the story: “I was presented with an opportunity to return to South Africa where I grew up to play some cricket at the start of this year and it was a chance I jumped at.
“I have been here since mid-January and although things have been slightly different with Covid restrictions, it has felt very much like being back at home for me because I am lucky enough to be staying with my parents and my sister.
“That has been excellent and made me feel settled off the cricket field because I can chat to them face to face rather than on Zoom.
“And on the field, there has also been some familiarity because I am playing for Randburg Cricket Club which is where I grew up playing the game as a youngster.
“It is wonderful to be back playing for the club and it is a wonderful opportunity for me to get some sunshine and, most importantly, stay fit and focused so that I can keep pushing on with my goal of one day soon playing for Scotland in ODIs and T20Is.”
Chris mentions staying focused and he has clearly been doing that because he has been in good nick with the bat since he arrived in South Africa – scoring a century in a recent Enza Premier League match for example – and he has also played a big part for the Randburg CC team with his ever improving leg spin.
Randburg is an area to the northwest of Johannesburg in the Gauteng province and, as well as playing for the first XI at the local club, Chris has been helping coach juniors there as restrictions allow.
“It has been great just being back in a team environment and around a club again and I know how lucky I am because lots of Scottish cricketers would love to have this kind of opportunity,” Chris, who has played for Glenrothes and Forfarshire since arriving for the first time in Scotland in 2011, states.
“As well as my involvement with the club playing 50-over and T20 cricket, I am fortunate to be able to use the great facilities that my sponsor Black Widow have when restrictions allow.
“They have indoor facilities, bowling machines and outdoor nets at Strijdom Park and I have been using those along with some other guys during the week.
“I am just trying to make the most of my time out here.”
Scotland’s fixture list for 2021 is still up in the air, but there are likely to be plenty of matches in the second half of the year if the pandemic eases and every player in the wider squad has their eyes on the making it onto the plane for the aforementioned T20 World Cup in India in October and November.
Chris has had to bide his time to break into the starting XI and be a permanent fixture in the group and he feels the last two years have been vital for his development as a player and as a person.
“I learnt so much just from being on the Oman tour in early 2019 and watching how the experienced guys in the Scotland squad went about their business,” Chris, who scored a T20 hundred for MCC Scotland at Lord’s back in 2017, said.
“I took a lot away from that trip and my other involvements with the squad that year and it all left me keener than ever to represent Scotland.
“In 2020 I was able to take a bit of a step back and assess where my cricket was at and what I needed to work on – and I feel like I have hit the ground running in 2021.
“I hope to represent Scotland later this year, it would be a dream come true.
“Going to the T20 World Cup would also be a dream, but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before then.”
Written by Gary Heatly