John Blain yesterday rolled back the years to help Grange clinch the Eastern Premier title with an emphatic 138-run victory over champions Heriot’s at Goldenacre.
Injury and other commitments have reduced player-coach Blain to a bit-part player during the campaign but the former Scotland pace bowler saved his best performance of the campaign for when it mattered most, claiming four key wickets to set up the first part of a possible double ahead of today’s Scottish Cup final between the same sides.
After Grange had posted a modest-looking 225-5, Blain took the attack to one of the most free-scoring top orders in the country with a superbly disciplined spell that reduced Heriot’s to tatters.
The veteran seamer claimed the first three wickets to fall and added a fourth to finish with 4-22 as the champions collapsed to 49-5 with their chances of a successful title defence in disarray.
Blain’s victims included the dangerous Hayes van der Berg who had plundered 465 runs going into this showdown but managed just 8 before miscuing to Ryan Flannigan.
It only got worse for the Goldenacre side as Gordon Goudie, Nick Farrar and teenager Charlie Peet got among the wickets to send the hosts tumbling to 87 all out.
Earlier the consistent Goudie notched his third half-century of the campaign as he and Flannigan gave Grange a solid platform.
They reached 93 before Goudie was bowled by Michael Shean for 57 and, while the visitors failed to fully capitalise on their start, good contributions from skipper Preston Mommsen, who anchored the innings to top-score with 61, and Tom Foulds (43no) hoisted the tally to one which proved more than enough.
Yesterday’s success gives Grange a massive psychological edge ahead of today’s cup final at Meikleriggs, Paisley.
Elsewhere Forfarshire guaranteed themselves a top three finish by performing a clinical demolition job on their main rivals Carlton at Forthill.
The visitors had been on an impressive eight-game winning streak but it was brought to a crunching halt as ‘Shire’s Umair Mohammed claimed 4-15 to help dismiss Carlton for just 101.
Forfarshire then raced to a ten-wicket win thanks to 59no from Chris Greaves and Rory Johnston’s 39no.
Arbroath, having slumped to third bottom following four consecutive defeats, successfully defended 161 to grab a morale-boosting win over RH Corstorphine at East Barnton but the match between Stewarts Melville and Watsonians at nearby Inverleith was cancelled.
Meanwhile relegated Glenrothes conceded their match to Aberdeenshire without travelling to the Granite City.
ONLY one fixture survived in the Western Premier but it was a game of huge significance at the foot of the table as relegation-threatened Greenock took a significant step towards survival with victory over Stirling at New Williamfield.
Chasing 179, overseas duo Saurabh Bandrekar and Laurens Smit produced a brilliant unbroken stand with 75no and 57no respectively to seal a seven-wicket success.
The result leaves Dumfries and Ayr staring at the prospect of a season in the first division while Drumpellier and East Kilbride confirmed their promotion following a spate of cancellations.