Interview: Adrian Neill
Adrian Neill is one of Scottish cricket’s self-effacing characters, so the giant Aberdeenshire bowler found himself in the unfamiliar position of making history at Myreside last summer when he took all 10 Watsonians wickets for just 31 runs in the CSL Eastern Premiership.
He doesn’t go big on Churchillian rhetoric or hyperbole, but there again, when you are 6ft 11in, you can afford to focus on deeds and not words.
It was the latest illustration of the paceman’s emerging talent, and secured Neill a place in the record books after becoming the first player to claim a maximum haul of wickets in the CSL.
And, on Friday, his potential was confirmed when he was chosen in the Scotland A squad for the match against Durham 2nds in England, starting on Tuesday, April 17.
When I spoke to him to talk about his ambitions, the 22-year-old seemed happiest about the fact that he was genuinely contributing to the Shire cause.
In fact, as he admitted, the magnitude of what he had done was a tad overwhelming. “It felt a bit unbelievable when it happened and I think my team mates were more excited than I was when I got number 10,” said Neill.
“I couldn’t believe what I had done, to be honest, and it took a while to sink in, but it was obviously a good day.”
In basic terms, Neill has the height to trouble any opponents, given the bounce he can extract from the deadest of pitches. Whether he is nasty enough to direct the ball at rivals’ throats on a regular basis is another matter, but he has a menacing, skiddy presence about him.
“I definitely have been enjoying playing for Aberdeenshire and it was a great decision to go and play at Mannofield,” said Neill.
“I think in all team sports, it’s crucial to have a good ethic and morale in the team because everybody has their good days and bad days, so it’s important that you know, if you have bad day, that you can count on your teammates to back you up and perform, not just on the field.
“The club as a whole has a good atmosphere and you have the first-team players talking and fielding with the Fourths, so it’s excellent that the whole club works as one and is not divided, which I have seen at other clubs I’ve played for.”
It was only ever going to be a matter of time before Neill progressed to a higher level, and the former assistant Scottish coach Craig Wright kept tabs on the youngster last summer.
Indeed, he was invited to join the Highlanders squad on a couple of occasions, but had to decline these offers due to work commitments. None of which should diminish the scale of his ambitions in the future.
“It has always been a goal of mine to play cricket at the highest level and I hope one day I can play international cricket or maybe down in England [with a county] and we will hopefully get there,” said Neill.
“Yes, it’s hard to get off work for Highlanders games which are on weekdays, but I am working on it.”
And now he’s in the Scotland ranks with a chance to build on previous exploits.