McElnea hoping to be Wizard in Oz
Neil Drysdale (CricketEurope)
When Cricket Scotland unveiled their under-19 squad yesterday for the World Cup in Australia later this summer, the inclusion of Ayr's talented paceman, Scott McElnea, demonstrated the range of talent which exists across Caledonia at youth level, and inspires confidence that the new generation can be competitive in their meetings with Pakistan, New Zealand and Afghanistan.
McElnea isn't a man to spout banalities; instead, just as he has done in recent months, whilst dodging the showers, and enhancing his reputation in the Scottish Regional Series, he will continue honing his gifts and beavering away at the coalface, dedicated to work, work, work.
"I live just a few minutes away from [Ayr's ground] Cambusdoon and I've been involved in cricket since I was eight, but obviously it will be a massive privilege to be involved in the World Cup," said McElnea, who has impressed the likes of former Scotland captain, Craig Wright, with his unstinting desire and determination to keep on learning his trade. "The weather has been frustrating in the last month, and it affects everybody, because batsmen in form often lose their rhythm from not having games, and, as a bowler, there is only so much training you can do in the nets.
"Yet I have received nothing but support from everybody at Ayr and in the wider Scottish set-up. During the last few seasons, the club has had some terrific professionals, such as Matt Horne amd Michael Papps, and their advice and support has helped me and all the other youngsters at the club enormously.
"So it is up to me to try and move on to the next level and I was fairly encouraged by my performances in the regional games in which I was involved. Personally, I think these are very important fixtures, especially now that we no longer have the SNCL, and the other youngsters feel the same. Firstly, we gain the chance to play against the best from the East and the North, and secondly, we get the opportunity to test ourselves against players who have represented Scotland at the highest level."
There are no frills with this fellow, who has enjoyed some tremendous experiences at Scotland age-group level, including being part of the team which triumphed at the Under-19 qualifying competition. If anything, McElnea seems to appreciate that he is only at the beginning of what should develop into a lengthy and auspicious international career. Some Scottish observers believe he should have been plucked out of the Ayr and West ranks into the Lions party, but the 20 year-old appears happy to pay his dues and earn his rewards with diligence and hard graft.
"I have different roles when I am with Ayr from when I am with the Under-19s, but, essentially, my job is is do the best I possibly can, whever I take the field," said McElnea, who will be in Scottish Cup action this weekend. "I try to bowl as many dots as I can and keep putting the ball in the right areas, and if you can achieve that, you build up pressure, and induce mistakes from the batsmen.
"I reckon I have benefitted a lot from going out to South Africa [with the under-19s] earlier this year. It was an intense trip, the facilities were brilliant, and there was a real determination amongst the squad to show what we could do, and, overall, it was a fantastic tour. There is a lot of competition for places around in Scotland at the moment, but that is a healthy sign and we are all spurring each other on."
McElnea's qualities are pushing him into the wider public gaze. And one suspects he will enhance his reputation after landing on the Gold Coast.