Men’s T20 Blitz: Players to watch

Gary Heatly takes a look at the ones to watch as we head into the Men's T20 Blitz.

Cricket Scotland @CricketScotland
September 12, 2020 3 years

The Tilney T20 Blitz for 2020 gets underway this Sunday when the Highlanders host the Knights in Broughty Ferry – here are some ‘players to watch’ from all three sides involved in the event as they aim to be crowned champions come September 27.

Caledonian Highlanders

Michael Leask: The Highlanders skipper was made for this form of the game as he can be destructive with the bat, miserly with the ball and is excellent in the field.

The 29-year-old Aberdonian has played 31 T20Is for his country to date going back to 2013 and with the bat he can either hit the big shots or rotate the strike depending on what the situation requires.

His spin bowling and the speed with which he gets through his overs makes the opponents think while, as a captain, he is always thinking himself and is not afraid to make bold moves if – and when – they are required.

Callum Garden: The top/middle order batsman hit a superb 60 not out last year as the Highlanders beat the Knights in this competition. 

During the summer of 2019 he was a key man for his club in 50-over-cricket with the bat, some of his crucial knocks including 57 not out against Heriot’s, 44 against Aberdeenshire and 54 against Carlton as they won the top flight title in the East.

Along with the likes of Rory Johnston, Jack Hogarth and Scott Cameron is part of the new wave of talent coming through at the Forfs.

He can also keep wicket and is one of three glovemen in player/head coach Craig Wallace’s squad for the opening matches of the 2020 event against the Knights along with Wallace himself and Harris Carnegie.

Eastern Knights

Dylan Budge: In the summer of 2018, 603 runs in nine days in 50-over-a-side cricket earned Budge a Scotland ODI debut in the win over England.

Since then he has also done well in the T20 format of the game and has played six T20Is for his country.

He is a good leader with plenty of cricket under his belt despite only turning 25 today [Friday] and, with the bat, he will act as a good foil for the Knights big hitters like Oli Hairs and Mike Carson at the top of the order.

The Knights captain is also a strong fielder and can chip in with the ball when required.

Tom Mackintosh: The wicketkeeper/batsman is still a teenager, but he is very highly thought of in Scottish cricketing circles and seems to have an old head on young shoulders.

Along with fellow youngsters Jamie Cairns and Charlie Peet, the Merchiston Castle pupil has stepped up to play for the Grange first XI and the Knights regularly in the last couple of years and has not been overawed.

He was also part of the Scotland under-19 squad that travelled to the World Cup in South Africa earlier this year and he is a strong stroke player.

His temperament was highlighted in 2018 when he hit a six, a two and a four to win a Scottish Cup semi-final for his club side in the last over against Ferguslie.

Western Warriors

Richie Berrington: The 33-year-old has been there and done that in the white ball game at all levels and he will be looking forward to captaining the Warriors in this competition.

With bat in hand he never seems to get flustered and often when he comes on to bowl in the middle overs he makes a crucial breakthrough and that has helped him to play in 61 T20Is for Scotland since 2008.

This format of the game has moved on a lot since then, but Berrington has adapted and he has great respect from his regional team mates with the young players in the squad looking up to him as a role model.

Hamza Tahir:  Watching the England T20I series with Pakistan and Australia recently we have all seen just how important spin is in this format of the game.

To be a spinner in T20s you have to be brave, be willing to mix things up and always keep your head up when hit for a boundary.

Tahir, the 24-year-old Ferguslie player, does just that and the Knights and Highlanders batsmen know they will have to deal with his overs carefully when they face him.

The left armer has grown in confidence since he made his T20I debut for Scotland two years ago against Pakistan and he has a bright future in the game.

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