Evans keen to make Saltires impression
William Dick (CricketMedia Scotland)
AT 23 years of age, Ali Evans can hardly be described as a boy wonder, yet the former Carlton fast bowler, poised for a CB40 debut against Surrey today, appears ready to make up for lost time.
Having come through the Scotland youth ranks, playing at every age-group level, before serving his time at Loughborough MCCU, the tall fast bowler has had limited opportunities to demonstrate his skills at senior level.
Indeed, since making his debut in a one-day international in 2009, Evans has earned just four more caps while his tally of three wickets is modest.
However, Evans has continued to strive for his goal of becoming a full-time cricketer and his hard work is suddenly reaping reward on two fronts.
Having trialled with Derbyshire last summer and toured to Barbados with the county pre-season, the Scot was recently rewarded with a summer contract.
Now, injuries to Gordon Goudie and Safy Sharif having paved the way, Evans is itching to show the Scottish public what he can do when he lines up against the CB40 holders at the Citylets Grange today.
“It has maybe taken me longer than I would have wanted but things have progressed really well during the winter,” said Evans.
“In fairness, it is only in the last year since leaving university that I have been able to commit the time I want to making a real go of being a cricketer.
“Last summer was a great learning experience playing and training with Derbyshire and I was their leading wicket taker in the second eleven Championship.
“The tour to Barbados was really the crux of the trial period for me and I was happy with how I played out there.
“Now I’ve been rewarded with a contract I want to make sure I make the most of the opportunity.”
Evans is happy to divide his time between county and country according to the demands of the respective coaching staff.
“It’s great that Derbyshire and Scotland are working together to give me the best opportunity to improve as a player.
“It is going to be a real thrill making my CB40 debut at the Grange but then it is always a thrill every time you represent your country.
“Grange is a ground I enjoy playing at because it is a faster, bouncier wicket – more like the ones in England that suit my bowling.
“Derbyshire used me as an opening bowler in T20 matches on the Barbados tour and in matches against Leicestershire, Hampshire and Yorkshire I managed an economy rate of less than five runs-an-over.”
A similar rate in today’s forty-over affair against Surrey would serve the Saltires well.
Meanwhile, coach Pete Steindl will ask his players to continue the steady improvement they showed in last season’s tournament when they consistently scored higher totals than in previous campaigns.
While contributions all down the order were a major factor, so were the performances of the excellent Preston Mommsen who quickly warmed to his task as middle-order finisher.
Mommsen will surely attract the attention of county scouts if he can build on the prolific form that saw him accumulate 408 runs at an average of 58 – enough to make him fifth in the competition averages (of those who completed at least seven innings).
The bowling department may look a little threadbare especially with Sharif and Goudie unfit for at least the opening two games, though Evans and fit-again Matty Parker could form a potent new-ball pairing.
South African Jean Symes will add variety with his left-arm spin while the re-introduction of Moneeb Iqbal after a season down south is another plus.
While supporters would dearly like to see the Saltires improve on last summer’s haul of two victories, Steindl is wary of setting such tangible targets.
“We will continue to play positive cricket and play with intensity for eighty overs of every match,” he said.
“If we concentrate on performances, results should follow.”
This weekend’s Bank Holiday games, which see Notts arrive in Edinburgh tomorrow, are the first of four straight home fixtures with Glamorgan and Hampshire heading north later this month as Uddingston hosts competitive county action for the first time
The Scots then face all six away fixtures in a row, including the return meeting with Surrey at the Oval on June 5 and a first-ever competitive trip to Cardiff’s Swalec Stadium to face Glamorgan.
They conclude their 12-game county season at home to Durham and Somerset in August.
CB40 Fixtures 2012
May 6 SALTIRES v SURREY
May 7 SALTIRES v NOTTS
May 13 SALTIRES v GLAMORGAN
May 20 SALTIRES v HAMPSHIRE
May 27 DURHAM v SALTIRES
June 4 HAMPSHIRE v SALTIRES
June 5 SURREY v SALTIRES
July 15 SOMERSET v SALTIRES
July 22 NOTTS v SALTIRES
July 29 GLAMORGAN v SALTIRES
Aug 5 SALTIRES v DURHAM
Aug 19 SALTIRES v SOMERSET