WICKET wizard Scott Hamilton is celebrating after he was crowned Scotland’s top bowler.
The Kelburne all-rounder claimed more scalps then any other during the SNCL season, with his deadly brand of medium-pace swing bamboozling batsmen across the country.
And his final tally of 32 wickets from 13 games was too much even for rivals in the top flight-Premiership to contend with, as well as those from the second-tier Championship which ’Burne competed in this term.
But it was a close call, with Falkland’s professional Harsha Cooray pushing 35-year-old Hamilton all they before posting his final tally of 27.
The Paisley bowler, however, remained the last man standing.
He said: “It was an excellent season for me personally.
“It was close going into the last few games but it was good for me to have that goal to go for.
“We played Falkland in our penultimate match and there was only three in it between Cooray and I.
“They bowled first and he took two wickets but in our innings, I took four and knew I was safe then.
“We even played our final game of the season the following day against Freuchie and I ended up with another three wickets to put a bit of daylight between us.
“My best figures were five for 24 against Dumfries, who finished top of the league and were promoted.
“They were the best team in the division so to take five wickets against them means I must have been doing something right.”
And he was, spending extra hours after training working with wicket keeper Sandy Strang to perfect his line and length.
The graft paid off as Hamilton and his Whitehaugh team-mates finally adjusted to life in the SNCL national set-up after winning promotion from the Wester Union two years back.
Scott added: “Two years ago I won the Western Union Bowler of the Year award after taking 40 wickets – but this means so much more.
“This is definitely a greater achievement and I was delighted to be named top wicket taker.
“It was a big jump in standard for us coming into the SNCL, while the format has taken a little getting used to as well.
“In the Western Union, each bowler gets 15 overs, but in the National League, you only get 10, so you have to bowl well from delivery number one.
“You need to hit the ground running because you don’t have the time to feel your way through the first few overs.
“On top of that, you are up against much better batsmen who will punish any loose deliveries.”
Having limped home dead last a year ago, Kelburne only dodged falling through the relegation trap door and out of the SNCL national set-up after a nervy play-off win against Strathearn.
But they made significant strides this year, largely thanks to Hamilton’s accuracy with the ball, finishing 10th from 15 teams.
But Scott insists with a little more luck, they could have pestered teams further up the table.
“We finished bottom last year and only stayed up via the play-offs so we have shown a good level of progress this season,” he said.
“We proved we could beat anyone on our day and with a bit of luck, we could have finished higher.
“We bowled out Stewarts Melville Royal High for 77 and Dumfries for 117 but both times we couldn’t chase that down.
“If we’d have won those games we could have finished in the top five.”