After the first full washout of the Scottish summer it’s as-you-were in the Western Premier Division, but with only four games left in the season the effect of last weekend’s cancellations has been felt at both ends of the table. While third-placed Prestwick’s title ambitions have effectively slipped out of their control, second-bottom Dumfries have been handed something of a lifeline as, with Poloc missing out on the chance of a win over Greenock, victory at Glenpark and a favourable result at Shawholm would lift Chris McCutcheon’s men out of the relegation zone with three to play.
“It’s a hundred-percent, must-win game if we have any aspirations to stay up,” the Dumfries skipper said. “But we’re travelling with a full-strength team for the first time this season, so we’re going into it with quite a bit of confidence. We’ve then got Stirling at home which we’re excited about, and although we were hoping to play last weekend against West of Scotland because we were at full strength then and they weren’t, if results go our way after everything being rained off we can move back above Poloc.”
Dumfries’ record of two wins from ten games reflects the challenging season the club has faced, but Chris is confident that it will continue to punch above its weight going forward.
“Player availability has been a big thing for us this year, which has unfortunately led to a few games being cancelled in the second XI,” he said. “We’re not like a Glasgow club where we can swap players about with transfers and so on – we have one nucleus for one club in what is a small town, I guess.
“But we always look at the structure of the club being there to support the facilities, hence why we get a lot of representative cricket just now, and we look to put our finance into the coaching and the junior side of things, where we have a really good set-up. But all the disruption this year hasn’t helped – we would normally have a professional and an amateur coming across, which helps with the coaching aspect and just gives a bit more drive and focus.
“I would also say that with COVID impacting people’s work, cricket has maybe not been as big a focus for some this year as well. Other sports’ pre-seasons have started earlier too, like rugby and football, so if you’re torn between two sports you’ve maybe picked another, so it’s been a challenge.
“But it’s a challenge we’ve come through – our squad numbers are back and stronger and next year our juniors will be a wee bit older as well, so it’s all good.”
And as his thoughts turn to Saturday and beyond, Chris is similarly optimistic about the wider future.
“It would be a big, big result for us,” he said. “[Staying in the division] was our aim at the start of the year. Is it imperative that we do so? Not in a sense – the younger guys would still enjoy their cricket playing at maybe not as strong a standard – but from a senior point of view, we’ll certainly be doing all we can to make it happen.”
Western Premier Division – 28 August 2021
Greenock v Your Move Dumfries (at Glenpark)
Langside v Prestwick (at Albert Park)
McCrea FS West of Scotland v Clydesdale (at Hamilton Crescent)
Poloc v SM Cricket Stirling County (at Shawholm)
Tunnock’s Uddingston v M8 Driving Ferguslie (at Bothwell Castle Policies)
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