Round Ten of the Western Premier Division promises some of its most significant action to date, with crucial ‘six pointers’ at both ends of the table. Although Clydesdale and Ferguslie remain out in front, Prestwick and Uddingston have stayed in hot pursuit, and while each has been in fine form of late, they will also know that any slip-up at this stage may well prove to be terminal.
Perhaps the game of the day is at Titwood, where Clydesdale take on fourth-placed Uddingston. Their meeting on opening day marked the start of a five-match unbeaten run for Paddy Barbour’s team, but it is Uddy who arrive with the satisfaction of having just gone one better.
Key to that six-game sequence has been the batting of Mo Awais, whose half-century against Stirling County took him to 611 runs for the season so far. The Western Warrior showed his class once again on a surface that offered plenty for the bowlers, and with Uddingston due to play the other teams above them before the month is out, he is delighted to have helped his side keep up its title challenge.
“It was a very, very big win for us,” he said. “We knew that it was going to be tough playing against Stirling because they have guys who have been in amazing form, especially Brandon [McMullen] who has been scoring good runs. But we were mentally prepared, we were physically prepared, and it was a very big result for us in the end.
“Batting was difficult to start with – the ball was moving and they were bowling in pretty decent areas which made it very hard at the beginning. So I took some time, I kept telling myself that I had to stay at the wicket, and it got easier as I went on.”
Awais’s aggregate is made all the more remarkable considering what was, in his own words, a ‘rough start’ to the campaign. The opener’s first four innings yielded only 82 runs, but against Poloc on 3 July he hit his stride in style by way of an extraordinary double hundred, only the second to have been scored in the WDCU’s present incarnation. When he was fourth out, he had 217 of Uddingston’s 289 runs to his name: the game was lost to the weather, but Awais has never looked back.
“In that game we were 20 for 0 after ten overs,” he said. “But I gave myself a chance, I was patient – and then I got started,” he smiled.
“I have tried to change my mindset over recent games,” he went on. “At the start of the season I was struggling to score many runs, but my captain and the senior players were giving me confidence, backing me, saying that they knew the runs were coming and to take my time and be myself.
“[My plan is to] stick in for a couple of overs and then see how it goes. I want to stay in for at least the first Powerplay, and I know that if I am still there after ten overs, then that’s me, I’m in.”
Awais’s change of mindset has been mirrored by that of the whole team, who have put their difficult start behind them in similarly emphatic style.
“We lost our first game of the season against Clydesdale and then we lost again against Prestwick,” he said. “But after that we spoke to each other, because we knew we were way better than that. We backed each other, and from then we gelled together even more.
“We are hungry to win each game. We can’t lose any more if we want to win the league. It’s a do or die situation, so we’re playing every single game like it’s the final game of a tournament. We’re taking every game very, very seriously and trying to win every one.”
And that effort continues on Saturday, with a trip back to some familiar surroundings.
“I have great memories of Clydesdale,” smiled Awais. “When I was playing there we won two leagues in a row and a Scottish Cup. And we know that Saturday is going to be a tough game, a tough challenge, because they have players like Richie [Berrington], Fazal [Jawad], their captain Paddy [Barbour] is in good form: there is quality all through the team.
“But we are ready. We’re well prepared, we’ve been training hard, so I’m saying, bring it on!”
Western Premier Division – 7 August 2021
Clydesdale v Tunnock’s Uddingston (at Titwood)
Langside v Greenock (at Albert Park)
M8 Driving Ferguslie v McCrea FS West of Scotland (at Meikleriggs)
Poloc v Your Move Dumfries (at Shawholm)
Prestwick v SM Cricket Stirling County (at Henry Thow Oval)
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