In the first of this season’s Eastern Premier Division previews Gary Heatly looks ahead to Saturday’s matches…
Captain Scott Cameron is looking forward to leading 2019 champions ion8 Forfarshire into action on Saturday as the Eastern Premier Division for 2021 gets going.
Having missed out on the league season last summer due to the pandemic, some clubs were able to play friendlies amongst themselves, but nothing beats a full on league campaign and all the players will be looking forward to the next few months.
On matchday one, Forfarshire host old rivals Arbroath at Forthill in what is sure to be a great contest.
“We are looking forward to the game on Saturday, it’s going to be a tough test but a game we will be up for,” Cameron said.
“It’s been a long time since our last competitive game in the league so we can’t wait to just be able to play cricket again after what has been a tough time.
“A derby win is something you always want to get and we know we will have to fight hard to get it, but we want the win to kick start our season off in the right fashion.”
Arbroath, the 2013 champions, finished sixth last time around and their skipper Marc Petrie said: “We’ve got a great mix of youth and experience and we’re looking forward to the challenge this summer.
“I’m especially looking forward to giving opportunities to some young, talented players coming through at the club. I’m proud to say that every player in our squad has come through our own youth system.”
League new boys Meigle, the 2019 Strathmore and Perthshire champions, have had to wait to make their mark on this division and are on the road to Stoneywood Dyce first up.
“It’s been a long time coming since our promotion play-off in 2019 and we really look forward to the challenges that lie ahead,” Meigle captain Charles Clark said.
“We have prepared the best we can and we know it’s going to take a consistent effort and resilience to establish ourselves in this league. We have a settled squad which includes Scotland under-17 player Josh Edington, an exciting talent who we hope plays a big part for us this season.”
Stoneywood Dyce were seventh in 2019 and their skipper Jamie King states: “I’m honoured to be captain of Stoneywood Dyce and I’m very lucky that I will be able to call upon ex-Scotland international Jan Stander this weekend and hopefully throughout the season.
“I have a very experienced team with ex-captains George Ninan and David Lamb coming back into the fold so I’ll have plenty of experience to draw upon should I need it in the coming weeks.”
There are also three Edinburgh derbies in week one.
Carlton welcome Gen!us Grange to Grange Loan, Watsonians make the trip across the capital to play Stewart’s Melville and Heriot’s are at home to RH Corstorphine at Goldenacre.
In 2019 Grange finished second in the table and the Portgower Place men now have all-rounder Tom Foulds as captain.
Foulds said: “I’m extremely lucky to have the chance to captain such a great club and even more so, such a talented squad.
“We’ve got a great balance of more experienced heads mixed with some great talent which has come through the Grange Academy such as Tom Mackintosh, Jack Jarvis, Jamie Cairns, Ben Davidson and Charlie Peet.
“After a long time without competitive cricket what better way to start than against Carlton, we can’t wait.”
Carlton, who were fourth in 2019, have Tom Simpson skippering this weekend with Ali Evans away with Scotland.
“Games against Grange are always ones to look forward too, so this will be no different,” Simpson said.
“It’s great to be able to bring back some experienced heads such as Hugo Southwell, Umair Mohammed and Chayank Gosain who help provide a nice balance to the side.
“The value of having experienced players to lean upon during pressured games is a huge positive for me as captain.”
Heriot’s were third in 2019 and their player/coach Joe Kinghorn-Gray said: “The team has been training really well and we’ve had a lot of guys put in some good performances in the warm-ups games, so we’re going into the game against RHC with confidence although we are fully aware that they have got a team full of quality.”
Caleb Whitefoord captains an RHC side who finished fifth two years ago and he said: We’re very excited to get back into some competitive cricket. We’ve brought in a couple of quality players over the winter and their impact has already been felt in the quality and professionalism of our recent training sessions.
“We’re really positive about where we stand going into this season.”
Stew Mel finished just above the relegation spot in 2019 with Watsonians just a place higher.
Steven Parker leads the Inverleith men into the campaign while new ‘Sonians captain Pete Maksimczyk said: “We are looking forward to this season, there is a real buzz about the whole club.
“Pre-season has been led by our new coach Oli Hairs who has brought enthusiasm and positivity to the first team right down to the juniors.
“If anything the Covid restrictions have helped grow the club and created a real togetherness and we are itching to get started against what we anticipate will be a solid Stew Mel team on Saturday.”
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