Defence-first philosophy the key to success for Mark Watt

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Describing Mark Watt as ‘economical’ may be an understatement.

The left-arm spinner, who is with the Northern Warriors for season 5 of the Abu Dhabi T10, was the undisputed star for Scotland in the recently-concluded ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.

In the Super-12s stage of the tournament, Mark Watt bowled his full quota of four overs in all but one game and gave away more than 23 on just one occasion.

Against Afghanistan, who scored 190, the spinner had figures of 1-23 (eco 5.75) and against New Zealand, who hit 172, Mark Watt’s stats read 1-13 (eco 3.25).

He has a career economy rate of 6.97 in all T20 internationals- phenomenal numbers in a world dominated by batsmen – and this despite bowling mainly in the powerplay and at times, the death.

All this is no coincidence though. Mark Watt has a set philosophy on how to bowl and his execution ensures he keeps up the numbers.

“The main thing about my bowling is not going for runs, so I’m quite defensive. If guys won’t score runs off me, hopefully they will attack the others and concede wickets,” Watt stated.

Bowling in the two most dangerous phases of the game requires some serious skill and variations and strangely, Mark Watt prefers bowling at the death.

“I think if you can bowl at the death, you can bowl in any other phase. I actually practise a lot of yorkers – not many spinners do that – and it’s nice to see that it works against top players,” said Watt.

“I have a few variations up my sleeve – I may bowl from behind the wicket just to let the ball hang in the air longer or maybe rush the batsman into blocking the ball. As long as things like that work, I’ll keep doing them.”

The Northern Warriors’ squad boasts of arguably one of the finest spinners the limited-overs game has ever seen in Imran Tahir and Mark Watt has loved picking his brain.

“Tahir is a very clever bowler and when he came in to practice two days before the season began, I was just asking him loads of questions. He helped me with tips about spin and talked to me about how to operate in T10 cricket. I’m trying to learn as much as I can from these players,” gushed Watt.

Two other players in his camp though have given him a tough time – captain Rovman Powell and Moeen Ali.

“Powell is a strong player, he can hit the ball really long. Moeen Ali is another very good player of spin, especially as a left-arm spinner bowling to a left-arm batsman is very hard. I do not like bowling to these two in the nets,” laughed Watt.

Northern Warriors are the defending champions but season 5 has not quite gone to plan yet – they have lost all four games thus far. However, Mark Watt believes they only need a win to turn things around.

“The mood in the camp is great, all the guys are buzzing and excited to just get on that winning train. The team is disappointed with how we have begun but we know there is a lot of cricket left to be played and hopefully, we string together that one good performance to win,” Mark Watt concluded.

He may not have made his Abu Dhabi T10 debut yet, but Mark Watt believes he has all the skills to succeed in the rapid format and hopes for a chance soon.

Could he be the lucky charm for the Northern Warriors? Only time will tell.

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