Leicester Attitude at Ferguslie
These last few days have been very eventful for Ferguslie’s Michael English.
The rising batting star faced England all-rounder Ben Stokes in the nets at Durham last week, as part of the Scotland A team which locked horns with the English county.
Then he launched his club season in the Western Premier Division by hitting a superb unbeaten century to steer his side to an emphatic victory over Stenhousemuir.
On Monday, he celebrated his 21st birthday, not with some wild Bacchanalian revelries, but the same dedication and commitment to cricket which has characterised his advance through Scotland’s age-group structure towards international recognition.
English isn’t some flashy prima donna, but rather a down-to-earth individual, who was mildly irritated by the suggestion from some hapless hack – name of Drysdale – that Clydesdale and Ayr would sweep all before them this summer.
As he told CricIndex, it would be unwise to write off Ferguslie, just because they happen to be a young team without a significant number of Scotland luminaries in their ranks.
What matters, in his opinion, is the fact that the Meikleriggs team have a great camaraderie and desire for self-improvement, on and off the pitch, whether in enhancing their facilities, encouraging their youngsters or proving you CAN win titles with kids.
This is a side with an average age of 21 or 22, astutely captained by Gregor Preston-Jones, which features the likes of Jamie Carruthers, Hamza and Haroon Tahir, David Stafford, Dean Kennedy and professional Mishkal Ramsaroop.
And anybody who thinks they are in the league simply to make up the numbers should avoid entering into a debate on the subject with English.
“We worked hard to get promoted a couple of years ago, and we proved our qualities by finishing third in the Premier Division last year,” said English, who is determined to pursue a professional career in the sport.
“I think we can benefit from taking the same approach to cricket as Leicester City did in football [en route to winning the Premiership last Monday]: concentrating on our own strengths, taking every game as it comes, not getting ahead of ourselves or underestimating any opponents.
“There were a couple of games last summer where we didn’t do ourselves justice and we have to learn from these afternoons, but I’ve seen the attitude of the boys and, believe me, they are really up for this challenge.
“We know Clydesdale will be tough to beat, and we respect them as a quality side, but we started off well against Stenhousemuir, we are at home to Ayr this Saturday and I hope we can continue to show what we’re made of.”
English’s philosophy typifies the new breed of Scottish cricketer with a have-bat-will-travel mentality.
Times have changed since the Saltires were taking their first steps in the Totesport League in 2003 – it’s 13 years this weekend since Ryan Watson blitzed the Somerset attack for one of the fastest hundreds in history – but he’s confident that the emerging generation can set their own records in the future.
As he said: “I think we have plenty of talent and I don’t understand it when I hear people talking negatively about the game in this country.
“We have guys such as Leasky [Michael Leask] and Matty [Matthew Cross] down on the English county circuit, we have more and more teams where the average age is in the early 20s, and we are all spurring each other on.
“I know that we need to win matches at international level. But that is true whenever we take the field and we are working very hard.
“It’s up the clubs to be involved in changing things for the better. But there is a real desire among the boys at Ferguslie and we have to be positive.”
Some people still regard cricket as an “English” game. It’s nonsense, of course.
But it certainly applies with this fellow.
Watch him and his colleagues chase glory like the Vardy boys at Leicester!