WHEN it comes to attracting international sports stars, Stenhousemuir is not a name that usually features prominently
The town may be famed for toffee, but two overseas players have concluded that their time competing there to be a sweet success. Stenhousemuir Cricket Club, like many others in Scotland, pass under many people's attention without any fuss.
But for brothers Hamish and Tom Rutherford, hitting the opposition for six in Larbert has left them bowled over. A chain of thought made all the more remarkable as the duo hail from one of the world's leading cricket nations- New Zealand.
Playing at the Tryst would considered by many as a complete culture shock, but the brothers, who have justjetted home at the end of the season, have relished the opportunity. "I played here three years ago then I tried to come back to Scotland because I quite liked it," Hamish told Heraldsport. "It is quite similar to New Zealand and I knew what I was coming into. I was asked if I wanted to come back and they said they needed an amateur as well, so Tom came too."
The impression made on Stenhousemuir pro Hamish (21) during his previous spell in Scotland was quite significant as he was delighted to be given the opportunity to play for Stenhousemuir. "I just wanted to come and play cricket while it's the winter back home and it's summer here," he acknowledged. "There are two leagues here in Scotland and the standard is quite good, so it's been good playing here. "It's been a difficult season for us and was quite a transition because a lot of the older players left and we had a lot of young players at 17 and 18 years old, which was a hard ask for them, but it's been good."
And younger brother Tom (18) agreed with his older sibling. Playing for the Tryst side as an amateur,he had to endure a scare with immigration officials before pitching up in Stenhousemuir, and he admitted that the experience had proved to be a "learning curve".
"I was always looking to come and playcricket and when the chance to come with Hamish came along I was very keen," he said. "The standard's been good and has been a step-up from playing schools cricket, so it's been good that way and if the club asked me to come back I'd definitely consider it."
The all-rounders from Dunedin were certainly a bright spot for the club during the season that has just passed, and Hamish also refused to rule out a return in the future, while hoping to fulfil his dream of turning out for the Black Caps. He said: "My ambition is to one day play for New Zealand, but we'll just have to wait and see. At the moment, I'm not sure what I'll be doing next year, as I usually make my mind up around March, but my first year as a pro has been a learning curve and I've had to deal with things that I didn't when I was an amateur, so its been good and I would definitely consider coming back."
While it is clear to see that Scotland as a cricketing nation have a lot of work ahead if they ever want to emulate the success of the Rutherfords' home nation- Scotland is still a non-test playing country- the Stenny stars said that they had seen and played with enough talented players for the national side to make a bigger impact, but admit the difficulty is raising the game's profile. "There is definitely talent here," said Tom. "If kids are enthusiastic about it and get the right coaching, then Scotland could one day become a really good cricket playing nation.
"It's difficult though because here, the kids have football drilled into them by the media, where for us, it is rugby and cricket, which makes it difficult for football back home."
Hamish agreed, and said: "I think around this area in particular there are talented players and people talk about coaching but it is hard in Scotland with the resources available. But if they get it right at junior level, I see no reason why they can't keep progressing."
And Stenhousemuir will hope that words of encouragement from two up and coming stars from one of the world's most successful cricketing nations will ensure that their name and game will feature more prominently in the future..