HIS selection in the Western Zone cricket side polarised opinions across the region’s cricket community.
And Scottish international Craig Wallace concedes he understands some people’s frustrations.
But that won’t stop him giving his all for Western when the NSW Country Cricket Championships begin tomorrow.
Wallace was selected after his first match in Orange, scoring 28 as a fill-in for Macquarie Valley in a trial match against a combined Mitchell-Lachlan team.
Long-time Western stalwart Adam Shepherd was vocal in his criticism of the selection, saying players who have given their all in Western cricket over a long period should have taken priority.
Selectors argued a player with Wallace’s pedigree, having represented Scotland at Twenty20 and One Day International level, could not be ignored.
Wallace, 21, is hoping to repay selectors’ faith during the three-day carnival.
“I read a few stories. I probably agree with what they’re saying. I certainly wouldn’t be happy myself,” said Wallace, who hails from the small town of Carnoustie.
“But I can only do what the selectors ask me to do and that’s put in a good performance this weekend.
“I hope we do well and I can get some runs for the team. I can’t wait.”
The keeper-batsman has taken a year off his university studies with the primary aim of helping Scotland qualify for the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka next September.
The short-term beneficiaries are Orange District Cricket Association heavyweights Cavaliers.
A friendship with Cavs opener Trent Colley, who used to play for a club at Wallace’s school in Scotland, will see the talented Scotsman play in Orange until Christmas.
So far, he is relishing the experience .
“I asked Trent if I could come out here and play for his club. The standard’s been OK,” he said.
“I just wanted really to come out here and play on grass wickets. I’m enjoying it, I’m glad I came out.”
Having represented Scotland at under 15s, 17s and 19s level, Wallace says his current standing as his country’s top keeper-batsman has been as a result of some luck - and plenty of hard work.
“I got a bit lucky, I suppose. Cricket in Scotland is at a stage at the moment where there aren’t too many keepers. Two have just retired,” he said.
“Colin Smith had been the keeper for 10 years and he retired a couple of years ago and they brought someone else in, who retired last year.
“I’ve got a bit lucky in some respects there but I’ve worked my arse off, though.”
While entering the Test match fray is a long-term goal of Scottish cricket, their immediate focus is on making next year’s T20 World Cup.
To get there, they will have to survive a cut-throat qualifying tournament in Dubai against 15 other emerging nations in February.
Only the top two teams will qualify.
And if Scotland is one of them?
“It would be a dream. Something I never thought could happen but within the space of a year, it could be a reality,” Wallace said.
Western Zone will face Central North in Newcastle tomorrow before backing up to play competition heavyweights Newcastle on Saturday and North Coast on Sunday.
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