MacLeod ready to grasp second chance
Jon Coates (The Scotsman)
THERE is the spin bowler who was told hundreds of times he wouldn't make it unless he got fit, the all-rounder who lost half of his repertoire to the yips and the South African who was shoved into a broom cupboard by armed thieves.
For each of these Scotland players, there was once little sense in imagining they would run out in front of scores of thousands at The Oval in 2009, cast as characters in cricket's great modern fantasy. For Calum MacLeod, the feelings of doubt and resignation struck as recently as the last week of May.
"A week ago I was playing second XI cricket and wasn't even thinking about World Cups," he says. "Then all of a sudden I got a phone call out of the blue, and it's just an opportunity now, isn't it?"
It's fresh to see a 20-year-old turn to a word like opportunity when responsibility or burden would befit the context. The loss of both Scotland's full-time fast bowlers to injury, and their most decorated one to something more cerebral, has not so much opened a door for the Shotts youngster as cast him skywards in a twister.
This morning against New Zealand he will be asked to lead the line in his country's World Twenty20 match, and yet his promise is barely a fraction fulfilled. It's similar to where John Blain found himself in 1999, in fact.
"Everything just seemed to click into place this time. Luckily, for me, Blainy is not in the squad and Dewald Nel, unfortunately for him, broke his finger and that just left me with a massive chance.
"I see myself as a new-ball bowler but obviously with the way Nel and Blainy have both played for Scotland in the past, it's hard for me to come in and straight away take it away from them.
"I'd be quite happy to spend a bit of time behind them, learning my trade, and then hopefully step up – which has happened a bit sooner than I thought it would."
Warwickshire colt MacLeod had his first sustained run in the team in April, during the botched qualifying campaign for the 2011 World Cup. But he vanished back to his county in early-season amid talk he had gone into a huff over his omission from the Twenty20 squad.
"After the disappointment of not being in the squad, what I said was that I thought I would just let Scotland have their time to get ready for this tournament," he explains. "I was definitely not ruling out playing for Scotland because it's a massive thing for me. I just didn't want to interfere in their progress."
Nor does his buring ambition to graduate from Dougie Brown's second XI at Edgbaston to the top team supersede his Scotland duties, MacLeod promises.
"I'm lucky enough to be at Warwickshire on the full-time staff and I want to break into the first team, I want to take wickets and play championship cricket. I know that if I do that it's going to benefit me in the long run and help Scotland.
"Warwickshire might be my career, and hopefully somewhere I can play a lot of cricket, but it doesn't offer me the chance of playing Twenty20 World Cups and hopefully World Cups, which is where you want to be. It's all part of the process to play at the top level."