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Domestic Preview – Week 1

Cricket Media deliver the first preview of the season from the Eastern and Western Premier divisions

Lizzie Sleet @CricketScotland
April 27, 2018 3 years

WDCU Premier

Shahzad Rafiq, the Prestwick captain, says his team will take nothing for granted as they launch the defence of their Western Premier title on Saturday.

The champions start strong favourites against newly-promoted Stirling at the Henry Thow Oval but realistic Rafiq, said: “Their confidence will be high after last season and we know they have some quality players.

“We expect nothing other than a tough test.

“As far as defending the title is concerned, we are not thinking that far ahead. All we want to do is remain competitive, play exciting cricket and enjoy ourselves as we did last year.

“If we are in contention at the start of August I’ll be delighted.”

Stirling counterpart Matt Tweedie meanwhile has revealed his team will take inspiration from Prestwick who won the top-flight title just two seasons after being promoted.

He said: “It’s impressive how they have been able to progress so well over the last couple of years and
this game is a great opportunity to see how we shape up against the best team in the league and hopefully kick-off of an exciting challenge.

“We have a good idea of what we need to do in order to be competitive so we need to focus on consistently executing our skills in every game.”

Both teams are missing a key pace bowler with Willie Rowan unavailable for the champions and Stirling’s Akram Shakoor injured. Prestwick will hand the new ball to Scotland U17 prospect Euan McBeth.

West of Scotland, returning to the top flight after a two-season absence, introduce Zimbabwean all-rounder Trevor Garwe as they entertain Poloc at Hamilton Crescent.

West skipper Gregg Watson said: “We’re delighted to be back and are confident that on our day we can give the best a run for their money.

“We always feel we’re stronger at home so hopefully we can start with a win.”

Poloc have three debutants in their side in Imran Ameer and Ihtesham Ul Haq, who have joined from Glasgow Accies and Clydesdale respectively, while South African Coenie Nel features as overseas amateur.

One of the day’s top matches sees Ferguslie, in the top three for the last three seasons, entertain deposed champions Clydesdale at Meikleriggs.

The Paisley side welcome back Hamza Tahir and Taimoor Ahmad after a season at Poloc while Ihtisham Malik is back for Dale, also after a spell at Poloc.

Uddingston welcome Mo Awais from Clydesdale but line-up against former team-mate Anwar Hafeez who will be in the Ayr side to visit Bothwell Castle.

Greenock await the arrival of Indian professional Saurabh Bandekar but South African Laurens Smit makes his competitive debut against Dumfries at Glenpark while the visitors introduce fellow South African Jesse Smit and New Zealander Andrew Mascall.

Eastern Premier 

Majid Haq couldn’t disguise his excitement and anticipation as he stepped up preparations for his return to Scottish top-flight league action.

The experienced internationalist spearheaded the promotion surge by RHC Lions – and they launch their campaign against champions Heriot’s at Goldenacre.

Haq said: “We have to kick on improve, but from what I’ve seen in the last year from the guys, they are more than capable of rising to the challenge.

“We have also recruited well to strengthened the squad further. “

Heriot’s have lost Scotland man Mark Watt, who is plying his trade as pro for Tynemouth, while seamer Adrian Neill has also moved south.

Haq added: “Of course they will miss Watty as he was there star all rounder with the most wicket runs.

“Losing Adrian is also a blow to them but they have a quality professional in Hayes van der Berg who is a very consistent performer.”

It has been a long a mightily frustrating winter for Arbroath.

Eight months have passed since Marc Petrie’s troops had the title snatched away by Heriot’s.

And the Lochlands men embark on their mission to grab back the glory.

They open their campaign on home turf against Stewart’s-Melville – and skipper Petrie can’t wait for the action to begin.

He said: “We’re massively looking forward to the new season and after a couple of very productive warm-up games, we feel well prepared.”

Arbroath have lost star stalwarts Brendon Ford and Elton Willemse, who have retired, however they have drafted in two overseas players.

Petrie explained: “Our pro is Shanuka Vithanawasam, a Sri Lankan all rounder, while the amateur is Bryce Allchin, an opening bowler from South Africa.”

Petrie will be without other front-liners for this afternoon’s tussle.

Fraser Burnett has work commitments, Ross McLean is visiting his girlfriend in Cambodia and Jack Waller is due to sit university exams.

The captain added: “I’m sure Stew-Mel will be well prepared and we must make sure we’re on top of our game right from the start.

“League positions from previous seasons mean nothing – we must start again.

“But we are confident in our ability and know it takes a lot for any team to beat us if we’re performing at our best.”

Grange’s big-name signing, former England Test bowler Ryan Sidebottom has not yet arrived in Edinburgh.

Their other recent recruit, Conor Shorten, is injured so won’t figure against his old side Aberdeenshire at Raeburn Place.

Forfarshire’s prime aim this term will be to find consistency, following last year’s roller-coaster existence.

They also launch their campaign at home, with Watsonians visiting Broughty Ferry.

Skipper Umair Mohammed stated: “We have signed Bill Kruip, who is a bowling all-rounder from the Valleys club in Brisbane.

“We are also delighted to have Scotland man Michael Leask at our disposal after his spell at Somerset.

“I am sure both players will bring special qualities.

New recruits are Bill Kruip from Valleys, Brisbane. Bowling all rounder. Michael Leask is back.

Shire appear to have a strong line-up on duty with Matty Parker, Craig Wallace, Chris Greaves and Brock Ditchmen all included.

Glenrothes, again led by Scotland hero Safyaan Sharif, open their account against Carlton at Gilvenbank.

The Fifers will be hoping he will reproduce the form that made him a leading light in the recent World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe.

Clubs are kindly reminded to familiarise themselves with the changes to the Code of Conduct and Disciplinary procedures, which can be found HERE 

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