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Domestic Preview – Week 17

Cricket Media preview the final round of fixtures in the Eastern and Western Premier Divisions

Lizzie Sleet @CricketScotland
August 26, 2017 3 years

SHAHZAD Rafiq, the Prestwick captain, believes his side will be worthy winners should they clinch their first-ever Western Premier title this afternoon.

The Ayrshire team, who have topped the table throughout the second half of the campaign, will be crowned champions barring a last day collapse against relegation-threatened East Kilbride.

Victory would spark the celebrations but, such is Prestwick’s lead over second placed Ferguslie, that they would also lift the silverware should the match at Torrance House be abandoned.

The latter scenario is not the way Rafiq would like the season to end but he said: “We obviously want to finish things off in style by playing and winning but we can’t control conditions at East Kilbride.

“I know a lot of games have been off there this season but we’ve prepared well and we’re travelling with a bus load of supporters.

“We’re in the right frame of mind to play but if the game is off we’ll still have cause to celebrate a memorable season.

“I’m not bragging but I honestly believe we’ve played the best cricket of any team in the league.

“Our run totals show that as do the bowling stats – we’ve got a really well-balanced side and a group who have worked hard for this for three years.

“We’re so close but I just want to get the job done now and then I’ll be more relaxed.”
East Kilbride – who have completed just three home fixtures and eight in total – will pull out all the stops to get the game on knowing that they must win and hope Greenock lose to Clydesdale.

Greenock have suffered from inconsistency during their first season back in the top flight but have shown enough promise to suggest that should they survive an anxious last day they may blossom next season.

Talented teenage opening batsman Harry Briggs returns for the home side who have a doubt over Australian pace bowler Julien Hulbert.

Outgoing champions Clydesdale want to end the season on a high while former Greenock star Richie Berrington will bid to add to his impressive tally of 539 runs and 22 wickets.
Elsewhere, Ferguslie must beat Uddingston and hope Prestwick slip-up if they are to be crowned champions.

The Meikleriggs men have challenged throughout the campaign but may look back with regret on the corresponding fixture at Bothwell Castle – one of only two league defeats they have suffered.

Dumfries and Poloc will play out the season in mid-table safety though much more was expected of a Poloc side whose close-season recruitment had many tipping them as potential title contenders.

Meanwhile relegated Kelburne bid farewell to the top flight when they host an Ayr side whose title prospects petered out following their derby defeat to Prestwick three weeks ago.

LONG-SERVING Arbroath star Greig Peal insists there are no jitters in the camp ahead of today’s potentially dramatic climax to the title race.

The Lochlands brigade head for the capital to square up to Carlton, knowing anything other than a heavy defeat will definitely earn the championship.

Waiting in the wings on the other side of Edinburgh will be Heriot’s, who – by beating Aberdeenshire – would snatch the glory in the event of a major last-gasp slip-up by Peal and Co.

He said: “Last weekend’s victory over Glenrothes was tense enough, but from my point of view, all was calm

“We had been in several other pressurised situations during the campaign and have always got over the line.

“We beat Carlton earlier in the summer, but we don’t expect an easy ride at their place.”

He was backed up by skipper Marc Petrie, who laughed off the notion that Carlton could ease off following their Scottish Cup success.

He stated: “Their captain Ali Evans is a very competitive character and I am sure he will motivate his guys.

“We are all in a relaxed mood and determined to perform well for our fans.

“We have a coach-load and multiple car loads of them making the journey.”

Arbroath bring in Jack Waller for the injured Craig Cameron.

Significantly, Aberdeenshire will be without two leading batsmen at Goldenacre.

Pro Chris Ngoepe has returned home to South Africa and Ian Kirk, who narrowly missed out on a century in last week’s triumph over Grange, has work commitments.

Heriot’s are boosted by the return of player-coach Peter Ross, who will keep wicket.

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