Mark Watt has been one of the most consistent performers for Scotland for quite some time now. The 24-year-old made his debut in 2016 and has been going from strength to strength ever since. Ever since his debut, he has delivered one top-notch performance after another, outsmarting many a batsman. His bowling averages in ODIs and T20Is are 29.51 and 20.06 are a testament to how consistent he has been.
There won’t be a better platform for him to make a statement by coming good in the T20 World Cup in India which will be held later this year. While the squads for the World Cup have not been announced, it seems unlikely that Watt will not be picked. The focus for the team and the spinner, therefore, will first be on doing well in the qualifiers. The side has suffered a lot of disappointments and heartbreaks in previous qualification tournaments. And they wouldn’t want to repeat their past mistakes.
Watt spoke to FirstSportz in an exclusive chat about his inspirations, his goals, favourite performances, the upcoming T20 World Cup and more.
Excerpts from the exclusive interview with Mark Watt
Why did you become a cricketer? What inspired you? Did something spark in you during a moment where you realized it or was it something that you always worked towards?
My school that I went to never had cricket in it’s curricula so I used to go and watch my dad play on a Saturday at Leith Links. I started going and throwing a ball about and found out i had good hand eye coordination.
Who was your inspiration when you were younger? Who did you look up to?
I used to love watching Warne bowl as I started out as a left arm leg spinner. But when I swapped to LA off spin I quickly realised how good Vetori is… would love to work with him one day.
The pandemic situation has been very difficult for a lot of sportspersons. How have you been training and keeping yourself both physically and mentally fit?
Physically I’ve been just getting out and running quite a bit, even managed a half marathon during lockdown which is something I would never have attempted before lockdown. Mentally I’m just trying to stay hungry and determined to have a great start for Scotland whenever it is we start back, it could be 5 months or it could be in a couple weeks and I don’t want to be playing catch up when we get back to it .
With the World T20 qualifiers looming, how has preparation been? How do you evaluate Scotland’s chances of pulling off an upset or two?
I think we have a great chance of pulling off upsets. We qualified for the tournament by not playing our best cricket which people will see as a negative but also exciting that we have so much potential with our destructive batting line up and aggressive bowling line up.
Who was the mentor or coach who played a key role in making you who you are today?
There’s definitely a few to name, Steven Knox definitely played a massive part. And also Gordon Drummond who both stuck with me all the way through my youth and then to Craig Wright for backing me to play for Scotland. Also of course to my parents who have always pushed me to play and get better.
Being a left-arm orthodox bowler, did you model your bowling around any bowler in particular? Or was your bowling something that you naturally developed by yourself?
No, definitely not. I have quite a unique action and don’t want to change too much with it. Always have room to improvement and have variations coming into my game but I’m keeping the fundamentals are key in my eyes.
What is one performance of yours that you consider your favorite?
Obviously the England game is up there, but one of my favourite games for Scotland is one where I didn’t take any wickets. We played against Holland in the desert T20 and didn’t get the highest of totals to which Holland got off to a great start. I came on and bowled 4 overs for 18 and dragged the come back, also Con de Lange took 2 for 17 off 4. And we ended up coming back to winning that game. I loved bowling in tandem with Con and that game is a real stand out in my career.
Would you like to share how your stint in the Vitality T20 Blast and with the counties helped? Do you have any further plans in England?
Thoroughly enjoyed my time in the T20 blast, definitely keen to get involved with another county. Playing against the best in the world is what any professional sportsman aims to do.
Could you share how it felt during the famous ODI win over England? Having taken 3 wickets in the game, it must have been special for you. How was the scene in the dressing room?
It was just a great day, seeing the emotion and scenes after the game, it was just unbelievable. People running on the pitch asking for photos saying how proud of us they were. It’s something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. In the dressing room, it was just pure enjoyment for what we had just done. Not so much on an individual basis but just to beat the world’s best on TV in front of the world, it really put us back on the cricketing map.
Can you talk to us about Scottish cricket? Do you think it is on the right track at the moment? How do you think it can improve?
Quite simple really. We just need more funding. With more funding, we can get better facilities and more games which will drive the kids to watch and hopefully inspire them to go on to be like us.
Having got off to a great start, what is the next goal for you? What would you say is your ultimate dream?
The next goal for me is to do well with Scotland. That’s all I really have on my mind at the moment. In the years to come, I like to be playing in some T20 leagues along with Scotland being a Test playing nation. That’s the goal.
What is your advice for budding cricketers around the world?
Advice for cricketers across the world is don’t get too high and don’t get too low. If you have a great game enjoy it, but don’t get complacent. If you have a bad game, own it learn from it and move on.