William Dick Cricket Media Scotland
Ian Moran is clearly a cricketer of tough mental fibre. The Australian all-rounder could have been forgiven for chucking away the flannels and taking up tiddlywinks such was the personal disaster visited upon him during a wretched Saltires return at the Citylets Grange last Sunday.
Moran, belatedly called back into the side following a successful first stint a year ago, suffered the sort of misfortune you would only wish on your worst enemy when Chris Read, the Notts and former England wicketkeeper, plundered 32 runs from a single over of the Aussie's medium pace bowling.
Lesser men may have pulled up with an imaginary calf strain after the first four deliveries went 6-4-6-4 amid gasps of glee from visiting supporters and a mounting sense of pity from anyone with the merest sense of compassion. Instead Moran soldiered on gamely - only for his final two deliveries to be cruelly hoisted out of the ground by a rampant Read.
Yet, while the temptation to wallow in self pity must have been strong, Moran has emerged from the carnage of a bitter and cruelly unforgettable experience with renewed determination. From the frying pan of Read's onslaught, Moran is ready to douse the dangerous flames of an Old Trafford fire where a star-studded Lancashire Lightning outfit lie in wait.
In the wake of last week's chastening experience, the prospect of running in to bowl at hard-hitting countryman Brad Hodge or the great England hero himself - Andrew Flintoff - might have had Moran breaking out in a cold sweat. But instead, the Sydney University player is invigorated by the prospect.
"Obviously it wasn't the best game of my career," admitted Moran, reflecting with commendably good-natured understatement on an outing which also saw him bowled by spinner Graeme Swann for a first-ball duck.
"I simply bowled the wrong lengths at the death and Chris Read is a good enough player to take advantage. Getting hit for 32 in an over is not something any bowler wants and I'm obviously disappointed that it happened. But there's no point dwelling on it. All I can do is learn from it and look forward.
"I've been practising my yorkers all week in the nets and hopefully when I get the ball on Sunday I'll get it right."
What made last weekend's experience all the harder to take was that the punishment arrived without any warning. Moran had earlier sent down four tidy overs for just 14 runs when skipper Ryan Watson threw him the ball for a second time with three overs remaining and the Saltires still in contention.
The following six disastrous deliveries paved the way for the Trent Bridge stars to take the game beyond the Scots with 61 runs from the final three overs.
"I'd started OK and felt good at the start of the over but everything just went wrong and these things can happen in cricket. But the boys were good about it afterwards. They tried to keep my spirits up but I have to admit I was pretty inconsolable at the time because I knew that over had pretty much cost us the match. We were certainly in the hunt up to that point."
Now, though, Moran is looking positively ahead and believes claiming the wicket of Flintoff would erase any lingering demons.
"Facing Lancashire at Old Trafford is the perfect scenario for me this weekend and I personally hope Flintoff plays," he said. "They are one of the strongest county sides around and Old Trafford is a Test ground which is steeped in history. It will be a great thrill to play there and even more so if I can claim the wicket of England's most famous player."
Moran has already bagged some big-name scalps for the Saltires, South African Lance Klusener and Aussie Chris Rogers being the most notable in a match-winning five-wicket haul against Northants a year ago.
However, the 27 year-old all-rounder admits he was ill-prepared for last week's match after a winter dogged by injury and just 12 competitive overs under his belt since arriving back in Scotland as professional at Uddingston.
When Cricket Scotland's bold bid to sign South African Albie Morkel broke down it was widely predicted that Moran would be invited for a second term to join Tasmanian batsman George Bailey in an all-Aussie overseas pairing. Indeed chief executive Roddy Smith admitted that a bowling all-rounder from within the ranks of club pros in Scotland was his priority.
Instead bosses committed a serious folly in appointing a second specialist batsman in South African Arno Jacobs. Thus a second key batting position was given to a foreigner while Moran was left idle in the Lanarkshire rain.
"I guess it was disappointing not to be offered a new deal at the start of the Saltires' season but the selectors make these decisions and clearly they wanted another top order batsman.
"I'm just happy to be back now but the most frustrating thing for me is that I had so little cricket behind me when I went into the Notts game. Because of the weather Uddingston have only had two league games so far and in one of them I wasn't needed to bowl my full 10 overs.
"Coming on top of a winter when I was restricted because of injury it's not been the ideal preparation."
However, Moran is ready to pay back both the selectors for their strangely timed vote of confidence and his team-mates for that costly over.
"It was round about this stage last season that we got on a roll and the boys have been threatening to get it right for a few weeks now," he said. "Hopefully we can do it against Lancashire and then Durham on Monday but the key will be knocking sides over.
"If counties are only three or four wickets down with 10 overs or so to go they'll score heavily as we saw last week. So we've got to get early wickets and keep taking them."
Paul Hoffmann returns for Dewald Nel - now of Worcestershire - in the only likely change from last week's starting line-up.
However, Hoffmann would surely have no complaints if his Uddingston team-mate, having endured such pain seven days ago, grabs the match- winning headlines today.