Tom Sole, the crick­eter from a fa­mous rugby fam­ily

Son of Scot­land’s Grand Slam-win­ning cap­tain, the spin bowler is de­ter­mined to help his side suc­ceed in the up­com­ing Qual­i­fier event in the UAE, writes Paul Radley

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE -

Amid the gloom of Scot­land’s dis­mal dis­play at the Rugby World Cup, the coun­try’s crick­eters might be happy they have plenty to keep their minds oc­cu­pied this week.

They are pre­par­ing for their own tilt at play­ing on the global stage, at the T20 World Cup in Aus­tralia next year, via their qual­i­fi­ca­tion com­pe­ti­tion which starts on Sun­day.

All will have felt the an­guish of the rugby, fol­low­ing the sem­i­nal loss to Ja­pan on Sun­day. But one in par­tic­u­lar might have been feel­ing grate­ful he had de­cided, way back when, to pur­sue cricket in­stead of rugby.

On the sur­face, it was not an ob­vi­ous call for Tom Sole, given his gene pool.

Older brother Jamie had played rugby pro­fes­sion­ally, while fa­ther David was a Grand Slam-win­ning cap­tain who led Scot­land in their most suc­cess­ful World Cup, the semi-fi­nal fin­ish in 1991.

Sole played a lit­tle bit, too, even cross­ing paths with Adam Hast­ings, an­other son of a fa­mous fa­ther who played at this World Cup in Ja­pan, at times at school. But, he says, there was never any ques­tion of him be­ing di­verted from his first sport­ing love.

“It was al­ways cricket for me, even though I en­joyed rugby and played it till I was 16 or 17,” Sole said.

“I al­ways felt, ‘Oh, it’s the sum­mer, it is nice weather.’ I was hap­pier do­ing that, spend­ing all day out­side, than 70 or 80 min­utes in the cold and wet, get­ting hurt.”

And it is not as though he is the odd one out in his fam­ily, ei­ther. Older brother Chris, though not on tour here in the UAE for this tour­na­ment, is a Scot­land in­ter­na­tional, too.

“Dad never put any pres­sure on any of us to play sport, but he al­ways sup­ported what we wanted to do,” Sole said.

“I think he’s quite glad Chris and I chose cricket com­pared to rugby, where your ca­reer can be four or five years, or it could be less.

“My old­est brother had a sea­son at New­cas­tle Fal­cons, got in­jured twice in his time there, and that was it. One year was his pro­fes­sional rugby ca­reer.

“Al­ways at school, peo­ple were like, ‘Oh, he’s David Sole’s son, he should be good at rugby’. I didn’t re­ally care. I didn’t care what peo­ple thought I should do, I just went and played.”

Now the 23-year-old spin-bowler is forg­ing his own way in a dif­fer­ent sport.

He is part of a team who are the high­est-ranked side in the Qual­i­fier, and who have de­signs on seal­ing a place in the main event straight away by win­ning their pool in Dubai.

“In the past few years, we have beaten three full-mem­ber na­tions, tied with Zim­babwe in the World Cup Qual­i­fier, and we feel the squad we have now has im­proved,” Sole said.

“It is ex­cit­ing. We have been to­gether for a while, ev­ery­one knows how each other works, and how to push each other to go fur­ther with their cricket. We beat Eng­land last year, and I don’t think that was a fluke.”

In­jury meant he had to watch that win over an Eng­land side that would be­come world cham­pi­ons a year later from be­yond the bound­ary.

Now he is in­tent on mak­ing mem­o­ries of his own on the field, con­tribut­ing to suc­cess which he hopes will grow the sta­tus of his sport back home.

“There is a fol­low­ing, it is just ex­po­sure we have lacked,” said Sole, who took 3-24 against the UAE in Scot­land’s open­ing warm-up match yes­ter­day.

“I think that win against Eng­land put us a lit­tle bit more on the map, es­pe­cially against the main Scot­tish sports of rugby and foot­ball.

“Rugby is prob­a­bly the most ac­ces­si­ble sport. Foot­ball, ev­ery­one likes to think Scot­land are great, but they haven’t been to that many World Cups re­cently.

“It is grow­ing. Hope­fully one day soon we will be com­pet­ing against the best, in the best tour­na­ments in the world, and it will be a known fact that Scot­land and cricket go to­gether, in the same way that Eng­land goes to­gether with cricket.

“It feels like it is go­ing that way, and hope­fully the best is yet to come.”

Pho­tos Chris Whi­teoak / The Na­tional

Tom Sole, son of a rugby pro, has am­bi­tions to make mem­o­ries of his own as a bowler for Scot­land

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