• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Cameos not enough, Scots must be able to bank on Leask . . .

Michael Leask might not have much time for his day job at Clydesdale Bank at the moment but, in cricketing terms, the north-east batsman's account is well in the black.

Michael Leask has impressed for Scotland, Highlanders and Stoneywood-Dyce
Michael Leask has impressed for Scotland, Highlanders and Stoneywood-Dyce

Whether wielding the willow for Scotland, the Highlanders or Stoneywood-Dyce, the 23-year-old is increasingly making people sit up and take notice of his prodigious exploits. And the best aspect of his recent emergence is that he remains self-critical of his efforts and appreciates that he and his compatriots still have a long distance to travel.

It was, for instance, a bravura display by Leask, in striking 42 from just 16 balls, which galvanised the crowd at Mannofield when the Scots tackled England last month. Yet he was conscious of the fact he has too often flattered to deceive with glittering cameos, rather than producing the sort of innings which actually win matches.

This week, though, Leask was at it again, striking all of eleven 6s and 10 4s in a spellbinding knock of 132 - in a Twenty20 game - which ensured the Highlanders won the inaugural T20 North Sea Pro Series title. "It was funny, because I hadn't been hitting the ball that well in the warm-up, but once I was out in the middle, everything seemed to come straight off the middle," says Leask, whose bellicose knock featured a fantastic reverse sweep which sailed into the crowd. "I definitely think we are seeing the benefits of playing as often as we are and this new event has been a big help. I am involved in all different formats of the game and there's nothing better than being in real match situations rather than simply practicing in the nets.

"I know, from our perspective, the Pro Series has been a big success. It has allowed us to bring in some youngsters, to tackle the best of the rest of Scotland and go head to head against the Dutch."

Would the tournament be better if the Irish were involved? "I think it would and I believe their guys would benefit from it as well. Maybe they imagined it would be a walk in the park for them, but I think things are changing among the Associates.

"Scotland's best players have a real sense of ambition and we have to keep that up as we head towards the World Cup. Scoring nice 20s and 30s doesn't get the job done and I realise that as much as anybody."

Today's league programme features an eagerly-awaited meeting between Aberdeenshire and Stoneywood-Dyce and these near neighbours usually serve up intense encounters. This latest tussle should be no different, on the evidence of how they have been faring in the Cricket Scotland League Eastern Premier Division, but Leask is doing his best to downplay the local rivalry.

"Perhaps, in the past, we have been caught up in the derby element, but I'm telling the guys to treat it as just another game," says Leask.

"The message has to be that we should go out with the same purpose and attitude every week.

"Aberdeenshire will be tough but we have to focus on producing good, positive cricket and not worry too much about how we are both from the north-east. I believe we can beat them, but they have lots of quality and that is the challenge facing us, not where they come from."

Leask has been instrumental, with bat and ball, in steering his charges to a promising position but, in the bigger picture, his priority lies in being part of a Scotland and Highlanders line-up at the dawn of a new era.

"I'm loving my cricket and I've not been in the bank too often recently, so the aim is to build on a few promising displays and carry them forward," said Leask.

"It's an exciting time, with new competitions and a new coach, and plenty of youngsters coming through the system up here. But while it was great to score some runs against England [he was named man of the match], we still lost. None of us were happy with that."

He is only at the start of his international career. But Leask's philosophy is spot-on.

Contextual targeting label: 
Sport

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

238646