THE Cricketer is knocking opponents for six once again. But only in a metaphorical sense.

Andrew Young’s nickname has nothing to do with his prowess with bat or ball but is instead a nod back to the time when he was part of a British ski team that completely outshone their more celebrated Swedish opponents.

“How does it feel,” the vanquished Sweden team manager was asked in the aftermath. “To be beaten by this team of cricketers?”

“He didn’t see the funny side,” recalls Young with a laugh. “But it’s become a bit of a running joke. Any time we upset the odds it’s the cricket players at it again.”

Britain, then, may not have a great hinterland in cross-country skiing compared to their Scandinavian and central European counterparts but in Young they have one of the discipline’s rising stars.

A veteran of three Winter Olympic Games by the time he was 26, the Huntly-born skier found himself back on the sprint podium last weekend in Davos, Switzerland after a five-year absence.

He will return to the snow in Dresden this weekend for the latest round of the World Cup feeling just that little bit taller after seeing all his and the British team’s efforts throughout the year finally rewarded with a bronze medal.

“Someone asked me why it had taken so long to get back on the sprint podium – it’s not as if I’ve not been trying!” he adds.

“But it was just nice to get back there again. I skied really well in the final as well. The main emotions after were relief, happiness and just tiredness after you’ve done four rounds in one day just to get to the final. So there wasn’t much of a party afterwards.

“I was racing again the next day so it was just into full recovery mode. It was only on Monday on the road to Dresden that it sank in a little bit.

“It’s nice to get a tangible reward for your efforts although the feeling even before then was that the team was going in the right direction. Everyone has had a top 10 finish this year. It’s all about the support staff, technicians, the coaches, the physios and everyone else. Any success is a team effort.”

The 28 year-old moved to Trondheim in Norway in 2010 and now splits most years between the two countries. He returns to his parents’ house in Aberdeenshire for a summer of roller skiing on the roads, gym work and running, and then heads to Norway for the winter on the slopes.

“I’ve been living there for 10 years and they’ve accepted me now as an honorary Norwegian skier,” he reveals.

“I race for a club over there and they treat me like one of the locals. I can speak the language although it took me a few years to learn. My friends kept me on my toes and made fun of me whenever I said something wrong – that helps you learn quicker!”

None of his Norwegian skiing friends were in Davos and won’t be in Dresden either, joining the Swedes and Finns in staying away due to the pandemic.

“I find that surprising, especially from the Norwegians who are the biggest and richest team,” says Young.

“They are like the All Blacks in rugby. They have a huge budget and the best support staff. So you would have thought they would have found a way to make it safe.

“We made the seven-hour drive from Davos to Dresden in the team van which we usually use for our equipment. It’s just a three-seater so it was the two athletes and our physio which was fine as we’ve been in a bubble together anyway. It’s the most uncomfortable van I’ve ever been in! But it was safer than being on a train or plane with people you don’t know.

“So if the little British team can find a way to manage all the Covid stuff then you’d think the big teams like Norway should be able to do that, too. I don’t understand why these teams haven’t travelled but I guess you can’t judge them too harshly in these times.”

Young is already targeting another Olympic appearance in Beijing in 2022 with his sights set on improving on past performances.

“That’s a really big goal for me. It will be my fourth Olympics and I feel like I’ve not produced my best performances yet. In Sochi I did okay but in Vancouver and Pyeongchang I could have done better.

“So I want to go to China and produce what I know I’m capable of. And performances like last weekend tell me I’m on the right track.”