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‘I’m someone who does enjoy my own company every now and again’ – Scotland seamer Brad Wheal on life in a bubble at the T20 World Cup

Scotland bowler Bard Wheal looks on during Namibia's run chase.
Scotland bowler Bard Wheal looks on during Namibia's run chase.

The Scotland cricket team have had to get used to hotel life over the last six weeks.

The nature of international competition at the moment, not just with cricket but with most sports, is that bubble environments have become common in a bid to keep Covid-19 at bay.

Scotland have been out in the Middle East since the end of September, having played a tri-series tournament in Oman before the warm-up games for the T20 World Cup in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

They were back in Muscat for their group games against Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and Oman and have since returned to the United Arab Emirates for the Super 12.

Scotland bowler Brad Wheal in action against Oman.
Scotland bowler Brad Wheal in action against Oman.

“It’s a proper hotel bubble so it’s a bit frustrating as we can’t really get out and do too much,” said Scotland’s Brad Wheal. “There’s a team room where we can play board games and keep ourselves busy.

“There’s ping-pong and a swimming pool but we’re only allowed that at certain times as Australia and New Zealand are also staying here so we have to rotate through the pool and the gym. They’re trying to keep us separate as much as possible.

“It’s a funny one sharing with New Zealand seeing we’re playing them next. A few of our lads know their lads so they seem a good bunch of guys when we see them around the place.

“On board games I’d say there are a few who are very competitive. Ali Evans is normally the instigator who wants to play every time. Matthew Cross and Calum MacLeod are always involved too. They’ve got a few sneaky tricks. You never really know if they’re cheating or not so you have to keep a watchful eye on them.”

Such an environment can make it difficult to separate from the stresses of cricket, therefore Wheal always ensures he makes time for himself.

“It’s important to do that,” he added. “I’m someone who does enjoy my own company every now and again. You have the option to take yourself away from the team once in a while, in your room or somewhere else in the hotel that’s quiet. It’s about finding that balance.

“I like to play my Xbox or watch the telly, get through a series and try to keep yourself busy. As there’s not a whole lot you can do, getting through some Netflix.”

The support from home has lifted spirits and players have been inundated with messages from friends and family in the wake of their exploits.

Wheal, who is originally from South Africa but has family near Glasgow, always stays in touch with his Scottish heritage.

“I’ve always been very aware of it,” he added. “My mum was born in Glasgow and her whole family is still round Glasgow and Kilmarnock. We went to see them every year or two, so I spent a lot of time up there.

“Their support has been incredible. Mum didn’t really have much of a Scottish accent as she moved out early but the rest of the family have always lived there.

“I’ve still got a couple of Kilmarnock jerseys back home, even though they haven’t had the best couple of years.”

Afghanistan players celebrate the dismissal of Scotland batter George Munsey.
Afghanistan players celebrate the dismissal of Scotland batter George Munsey.

Scotland have had a few days to recuperate and reflect on their opening Super 12 defeats against Afghanistan and Namibia.

Performances and results have not been what they would have hoped for but in the three final games this week, against international heavyweights New Zealand, India and Pakistan, there are opportunities for the Scots to cause one final upset.

“They were tough losses to take as they’re teams we feel can compete against and beat,” said Wheal. “I don’t think we’ve played our best game as a team yet; every game, there’s always something we feel we can do better at which is encouraging.

“We’ve played a very good standard of cricket over the last couple of weeks, without being at our best. Afghanistan was a tough one, playing at Sharjah with the small boundary and their guys had a day out, scored a bit too many runs.

“I think they will be up there competing at the top for a place in the semis. We’ve just got to pick our heads up and keep going. It’s just looking to put that all-round performance in, which we’ve not done so far.”

As one of the seamers leading Scotland’s bowling attack, Wheal will also have chance to pit his wits against world-class talents like Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli.

“More than anything it’s going to be exciting, putting your skills up against the best of the best,” he added. “These are the best few batters in the world you’re going to be testing yourself against.

“You’ve got to back your plans. You do your analysis and decide what your plans are going to be for each batter. When you’re standing there, it’s about feeling in complete control and the results will take care of itself, regardless of who’s standing down the other end.”

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