In the latest of this season’s Thursday features, Gary Heatly catches up with Gala CC and Marchmont CC…
The Baillie Gifford ESCA Championship season has got off to a flying start and third is due to play first this coming Saturday in an intriguing clash in the Scottish Borders.
With four wins from five completed games, Marchmont CC’s first XI are top of the table at this stage with Edinburgh CC (also four wins from five) in second spot and Gala CC – three wins from four – in third.
Gala welcome Marchmont to Meigle Park at the weekend coming off the back of last week’s hard fought 12-run triumph over Gen!us Grange II at Portgower Place in Edinburgh in a match reduced to 35-overs-a-side.
Batting first, Gala managed to post 180-4 with their new Sri Lankan pro Upul Indrasiri, who only recently arrived on these shores, showing his quality with 108 not out.
Duncan Millar weighed in with 48 as they got themselves up to a defendable total.
In reply, good bowling from Gala saw Grange fall to 87-5 before Campbell Scott hit a valiant 73, but the visitors held on to restrict the hosts to 168 all out.
Aashiq Rhode was key with the ball with 4-25 while, amazingly, the week before Dinesh Tharanga had taken 9-15 – to back up his 64 runs – in a 105-run triumph over Edinburgh Accies.
“The boys are in a good place just now, there is a really good buzz about the club,” Gala first XI skipper Josh Irvine said.
“The numbers around the club have been good since we came out of the various lockdowns and such like and that has meant that we have competition for places and are able to put out two Saturday XIs as well as a Sunday team and we also have a good junior section.
“This season so far the good thing has been that everyone has played their part in helping us get over the line in certain games and that team spirit and the battling qualities we have were shown last weekend when we really had to bowl and field well to keep Grange from getting over our target.
“I wasn’t playing two weeks ago when Dinesh put in his amazing performance, but I know what he is capable of and he can cause batters problems in this division for sure.
“And it is great to now have Upul here for the rest of the season, he showed his class last week on his league debut with a century and he also took one wicket.
“Along with playing, he will be coaching our seniors and juniors and everyone can’t wait to learn from him, he has great experience.
“We know Marchmont have been going well and look forward to the game.”
Marchmont also battled to victory last time out in the Championship, bowling Kelso out for 120 at Cavalry Park before a wobble in the batting saw them edge home by just two wickets in a 45-overs-a-side contest.
In the first half of that game for the Edinburgh side, Milind Bangar led the way with the excellent figures of 3-10 from nine overs while Anup Mohapatra also took three wickets and Dhiraj Prakash took two.
In reply, they fell to 73-7 and were in a bit of bother until a superb 42 not out under pressure from Bangar saw them home.
The previous week in a victory over Clackmannan County, Bangar was also the star man with 5-19 from nine overs with five maidens and the Marchmont first XI captain Paddy Keogh said: “Milind has been brilliant so far this season for us.
“With the ball he is very consistent and we needed him to come in and hit a few runs with the bat last week to get us past Kelso, so it is great to have him in our ranks.
“The good thing for myself as a captain is that although we are top of the Championship table currently we know that we have not been at our best yet and there is still more to come from us.
“We have had to scrap for quite a few wins rather than getting over the line comfortably, but at key times key players like Milind have stepped up for us.
“The club has always had a fine tradition of being very sociable and welcoming and since I came to the city to study a few years ago and joined up with the guys at Marchmont I have loved every minute of it.
“We have players of all ages and from all backgrounds at the club and we are now putting out three league teams every weekend which is testament to the hard work done by so many to help Marchmont thrive.
“In the Championship every game is a test and we are prepared for another one at Gala at the weekend.”
Elsewhere in the division on Saturday, Edinburgh are away to Grange, Carlton II are hosting Edinburgh Accies, Clackmannan County are on the road to Heriot’s II and Kelso are due to entertain Morton.
Gala CC’s first XI are pictured in the main photo after last week’s win over Gen!us Grange II, Marchmont CC first XI captain Paddy Keogh is also pictured