An Interview with Michael Carson

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KR: So going back to the beginning, how many years have you been in
Edinburgh now?
MC: Five years and this is my fifth season playing at Watson’s. It’s been longer than I thought. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been here that long but five years is quite a long time. The company I worked for had two sites in the UK. One of them is in Fife and that’s where I got the job offer. I chose to live in Edinburgh as I thought it’d be a more appealing place to live. I’d actually never been to Scotland when I got the job offer, but definitely very happy with the decision and to be living here.

 

KR: Who can get credit for you signing for Watsonians?
MC: It was Paddy Sadler who was my captain at Cambridge Uni. I knew he was from Edinburgh and when I found out about the job offer I got in touch with him and asked for recommendations. He obviously suggested Watsonians. Living down the road from Myreside obviously helps as well as it allows me to walk down the road after a few beers!

 

KR: Tell us about the Cambridge set up. Must be cool being a first class cricketer?
MC: Well I didn’t actually play in any of the first class games. I didn’t get selected for any of the games. We had a lot of good players and as a batsman who bowls spin I couldn’t get into the team.

 

KR: You played one game against Gloucester according to Cricinfo!
MC: OK. Yeah I played one game. I batted down the order as it was a good side.

 

KR: You came up here and went straight into opening the batting?
MC: I’m happy batting anywhere but do enjoy opening the batting. I prefer to just get out there and get on with it. It’s always 0/0 which helps. In the middle order you never know what the situation will be. I don’t think I told Chubby I was opener but I was happy when he suggested it when I started.

 

michael carson
Carson batting at a sunny Myreside

 

KR: What were your impressions of Scottish cricket in that first season?
MC: I was surprised by how many clubs there were. Particularly in and around Edinburgh. It was a higher standard than I was expecting also. The leagues in England are localised so sometimes the quality isn’t as high. Because of the national leagues you do get a good standard in the top leagues. It’s definitely a higher standard than I was playing back home.

 

KR: And how did the first season go?
MC: The 1st season went fairly well. I can’t remember specific runs but I enjoyed playing and scoring runs. I definitely enjoyed it.

 

KR: When was the big run fest again?
MC: It was 2017. I don’t really know what happened. The first season went alright. In the second and third seasons I struggled a bit and struggled a little for consistency. I remember thinking I was kind of struggling to play at this standard. Playing more regularly in 2017 definitely helped. In 2017 we started to play more t20s and the weather was a bit better. Back home I was used to playing Saturday, Sunday and sometimes mid-week games which would come to over 50 games a season. I don’t think anything changed to get the runs. Part of it was probably just keeping it simple. I knew which shots I could play and which I couldn’t.

 

KR: I’ve always liked your simplified approach to cricket. It’s a difficult thing to coach however? What can others taken from your approach?
MC: The two things I’m thinking when I’m opening the batting are if it’s up there I look to play straight. If it’s short and hittable I look to hit it over the leg side. If you’ve only got two things in your mind it’s quite easy to face most bowling.

 

KR: And as part of that amazing run in 2017, you got a big score at Falkland?
MC: That was a ridiculous game to play in. It was a fun day.

Munsey and Carson
George Munsey and Michael Carson after their 378 run partnership

 

KR: So you came into this season feeling good?
MC: Yes, when you’ve got your approach and you think it works for you, that gives you the confidence to repeat it and hopefully get similar results. The winter training with the Knights definitely helped. There was a lot of match scenario batting in practise at Mary Erskines. You’re facing really good quality bowling. I came into the season feeling prepared as a result.

 

KR: So what’s your best innings?
MC: One of the more enjoyable was the Ayr cup game. Playing against an unfamiliar team I didn’t know was a challenge. The satisfaction from batting all the way through and seeing us home was great and really enjoyable. Nella got us off to a good start and I just carried on from there. It led us onto the Scottish Cup Final. The Cup Final was probably the best I have batted but we didn’t win the game so I wouldn’t say that. When Brendan and I were going well, we looked like we had a decent chance of nicking it.

Carson en-route to a Scottish Cup final Century in 2017.picture by Donald MacLeod.

 

KR: So that led onto the Knights stuff?
MC: Yes well I got called up for the trip to Holland but that got rained off so I didn’t actually play. I got invited to train during the winter though but I didn’t really expect to get into the team straight away. I thought it would be good to challenge myself. The chance to get 1 on 1 coaching was really appealing also.

 

KR: What type of coaching was it?
MC: A lot of mind-set stuff. There was a clear difference to club net sessions. There’s no one telling you what to do in club nets and you can play a reverse sweep every ball if you want to. With the Knights, every session was scenario based and really challenging.

 

KR: Ok so back to Watsonians. What was your welcome like? Did you feel it was welcoming?
MC: As a newcomer to the team I felt very welcome into the club. Absolutely no problems at all and I didn’t have any issues settling in. I obviously had someone who I knew played here. There’s probably more we could do to encourage new people to join the club but once people join I think we’re welcoming and friendly.

 

KR: What could we do to improve club wise?
MC: Trying to get more cross interaction across the club. I don’t know exactly how you do that. More junior/senior club interaction, more families and there’s also the women’s side to work on. Overall make it feel more like a single club. There’s dozens of things you could potentially do. Maybe trying to encourage more to have a drink afterwards. Hopefully more of the junior ones will be playing 2s,3s, 4s etc. I think we do some great things like getting the senior players getting involved in the junior coaching. I’d like to get involved more in coaching juniors and women’s subject to time allowances.

 

KR: So Scotland stuff. What’s the chat there?
MC: As I said before I wasn’t expecting to be even playing for the Eastern Knights and so didn’t even think about Scotland opportunities. My approach is pretty much just try and take whatever opportunities I can. I’m looking forward to testing myself again at a higher level. Trying to get into the side will be really tough with a lot of established players. If the opportunities come up then that would be awesome.

 

KR:  The Scotland A debut went pretty well?
MC: Yeah I got a bit of luck early on getting dropped and I ended up on 80 in the first innings, probably should have got more as well. They had good opening bowlers and one of their main spinners was injured. I got a bit carried away and got caught at deep midwicket. Maybe that shows I’m not cut out for three day cricket! It was quite a relaxed atmosphere under Craig Wallace from Forfs and I enjoyed that.

Carson with pads on about to bat for Scotland A.

 

KR: So back to Watsonians, What’s next?
MC: From a club point of view, we’re potentially going to be missing a few of the more experienced players. We’ll hopefully recruit one or two new players. In saying that, I’ve quite enjoyed being one of the more established players and the pressure that brings. There’s a responsibility to score runs. It may be the same sort of thing next year. I know other players in the team enjoy the added responsibility from being a senior player. Shaka batted really well in the second half of the season for example. I want to be making big impressions for the team though.  I feel like I can offer more with my bowling as well.

KR: Yeah, that googly is a nightmare to face. Ok onto some quick fire questions:

 

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS:

Favourite Player to bat with: I’d probably have to say George Munsey. He’s a positive player. He knows his game and the run rate’s generally not a problem when you’re batting with him. He just encourages you to stick with what you do and that suits me.

Best Team you’ve played with: The Eastern Knights this year, definitely. The depth of batting in some of the games was really strong.

Best player you’ve played against: I’m not sure. The best bowler would maybe be Evo when he’s bowling well. He doesn’t give you many bad balls.

Best Team you’ve played against: That game against Gloucestershire at Uni. They had a proper team out. I can remember facing Norwell and I’ve never seen someone move the ball off the pitch and that pace so much. The first innings I stuck around, but was pretty overwhelmed. He bowled one I left and it nipped back an absolute mile and bowled me.

Favourite Ground: Definitely Binfield back home. The quality of the wicket, the quality of the outfield is great. They’re starting to get some recognition like minor counties age group games.

Favourite Bat: I’m not that fussed about bats. Probably the Biggest Kahuna which I used to have. That was just a monster of a bat. It was 3lb1 and used to go a mile. Brilliant for playing front-foot, back past the bowler type shots. At Myreside it was effective!

Biggest Cricket Ambition: I’d love to play a game for Scotland.

Best cricket advice: I think enjoy it. If you’re in the field it can be a long day, but try and enjoy being part of a team. Makes it much more enjoyable, more relaxed. It also makes you want to support each other like backing the bowling or take a great catch.

Player to watch out for? I’d say the two I’ve seen that have the most potential are Callum MacLeod and Matty Brian. Potentially guys like that could and should be playing regularly and contributing match winning performances.

Best person to have a post-match drink with? This is hard. I’ll go TC. I enjoy having a drink with him.