Player Spotlight: Andrew Umeed

Some English commentators seemed surprised when Andrew Umeed struck a century on his first-class debut for Warwickshire against Durham in the County Championship.

It was as if the Glasgow-born youngster had emerged from nowhere in the blink of an eye.

Yet, as anybody who has followed Scotland at age-group level will be aware, the 20-year-old has quietly, methodically, and with impressive single-mindedness, been pursuing his cricket dreams for many years.

The first time I met him was at Mannofield in Aberdeen in 2013, where he batted with remarkable maturity for somebody still in his teens. And afterwards, he spoke of his determination to keep learning, and making the best of the talent he possessed.

Ever since our meeting, his steely purposefulness was striking. He was charming company, and polite to a fault, but there was no disguising his commitment to pushing himself towards making waves on the English county circuit.

He was on the Edgbaston organisation’s radar before he was even 18. And now, after starring for Scotland at the last U-19 ICC World Cup and making his Scotland debut against Afghanistan last summer, he is continuing to make positive headlines.

His performance against Durham was stylish, accomplished, uncomplicated, technically astute: the qualities which have shone through his development from schoolboy luminary to adult star.

As Craig Wright, the former Scotland captain and coach, told CricIndex: “I’ve known Andy since he was a really young kid because I played with his dad at West of Scotland.

“Ever since those days, he has been dedicated to working hard on his game and his father, Isaac, has invested an amazing amount of time in him.

“Andy has always played above his age-group, coming through the system and he was never fazed by anything. He toured South Africa in 2008 with our U15 team as a 12-year-old and played in the 2012 U19 World Cup in Australia when he was 16.

“It was always evident that he had real belief in himself and a great temperament for an opening batsman, especially in multi-day cricket.

“He has developed as a character as well as a player over the past few years, and I have no doubt he will go on to score plenty more hundreds for Warwickshire and also, hopefully, for Scotland in the future.”

Majid Haq has been similarly uplifted by Umeed’s rise from his early days at Uddingston, through to the stage where is batting in the company of Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott and Varun Chopra.

And there is no doubt the influence of his father has been instrumental while he has made the smooth transition from the amateur ranks to the professional circuit.

Haq said on Wednesday: “Andy is a quiet, grounded boy, but he has always had great ambition from an early age.

“I think he is one of the most accomplished batsmen to have emerged from Scotland in a very long time. He has a terrific temperament and desire to bat for long periods.

“When he bats, he a lot of time to play the ball, which is the sign of a top player. And his dad deserves a lot of credit for the amount of time and effort he has put into his development.”

One or two pundits told me privately they were “very surprised” that Umeed was only picked for the one Intercontinental Cup clash in 2015. One added: “The selectors should have shown faith with him for Hong Kong and built up his confidence.”

But Andrew isn’t lacking in the latter quality and we will hear plenty more about this lad.

Comfort zones aren’t on his radar. Instead, at 20, this is one of the new breed of Associate cricketer, who realises the world doesn’t owe him any favours.

 

Picture courtesy of Warwickshire CCC (http://warwickshireccc.com)

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