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Mark Watt on Scotland’s T20 World Cup chances, beating England and Australian tattoos

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Slow-arm bowling can be a chastening pursuit at times, especially in the modern era where aggressive batters have found a stroke for every delivery, but as he approaches his fourth T20 World Cup with Scotland, Watt is undeterred.

A left-arm spinner who doesn’t provide much turn needs to improvise and, on that front, the 27-year-old has never been found wanting, forever changing the length, angle or approach of his deliveries to flummox even the most experienced of batters.

When he took three wickets for just 12 runs to help Scotland defeat the West Indies in their opening game at the previous World Cup, footage of the Edinburgh bowler consulting a sheet of paper with his scribbled notes quickly went viral. Watt has a plan for everyone and anyone.

Given Scotland’s growth over the past decade and his role in that evolution, Watt isn’t flying under the radar any more but he maintains he hasn’t yet lost the capacity to surprise. Batters beware.

“I’m always learning new tricks here and there,” he confirms. “I’ve got a new delivery that I’m trying to perfect so hopefully it comes out well and takes the world by storm. I’m not the most orthodox left-arm spinner so you try to use anything you can in the game – that you can get away with – to try to get under the skin of the batters. Even if it just grabs you one or two dot balls you’ve done your job right. Those are like gold dust in T20 cricket.

“I’ll keep trying to think of as many things as I can. And the sheet of paper will definitely be coming out again. I’ll need those notes with me again as I’ve been doing my homework.”

There is no preliminary round at this edition of the World Cup that gets underway this weekend, pitching Scotland in with some of the game’s elite from the very start.

A first ever T20I meeting with Australia will round off their Group B fixtures but it is the opener with England next Tuesday – June 4 – in Barbados that naturally heightens the senses.

The two nations have never met in this format but memories abound of their previous encounter in 2018 when Scotland emerged victorious from an enthralling one-day international at the Grange. England had been the favourites, just as they will be in this one, but Watt, who took three wickets that day, is eagerly eying up a repeat.

“This is one I’ve been literally dreaming about, playing England in a World Cup in the West Indies,” he adds. “I’ve been losing nights’ sleep over how excited I am! I’ve been to the Caribbean twice before to watch cricket and I’ve always said I’d love to play there one day and now it’s happening.

“I’m sure the 2018 game will be in some of the England players’ heads as they’ll want to get back at us as we’ve been talking about that win ever since. But if we can do a job on them again then that would be incredible. They’re the reigning World Cup champions but to play them first up is ideal for us. All the pressure is on them.

“I don’t see why we can’t beat them again. We’ve got a decent track record of taking down bigger nations on the world stage. All the boys have learned from these games and we feel ready to go into this tournament and make our mark. We want to make more memories.”

Watt has a strong bond with Australia, too, having spent a winter playing cricket down under not long after breaking into the Scotland set-up. It remains a place he is very fond of but the thought of claiming the wicket of someone like David Warner, Mitch Marsh or Travis Head causes another smile to traverse his face.

“I’ve always wanted to play against Australia as I’ve never faced them before,” he reveals. “I’ve actually got a tattoo of a map of Australia on my ankle from my time there. This winter I was playing with Sharjah Warriors alongside Daniel Sams, who played for Australia, and I said that if we beat them in this World Cup he would have to get a map of Scotland on his ankle. And he agreed!

“So that’s another reason for wanting to beat them. The history of Australian cricket is littered with big names and the thought of going up against them and maybe taking a scalp or two is massively exciting.”

Watt confidently, and correctly, points out that Scotland’s match with Australia is “the last group game, hopefully not our last game in the tournament”.

To progress to the Super 8s would likely mean Doug Watson’s side having to defeat Oman, Namibia and one of England or Australia but Watt, typically, doesn’t think it is beyond them.

“Every team in that group will be tough to play against for everyone,” he offers. “Australia haven’t played us before so won’t know much about it whereas we know all about them. I wouldn’t write us off just yet.”

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