Aberdeenshire win Eastern Premiership

25 Aug

Angry Arbroath chiefs will decide today if they will protest to with Cricket Scotland after they lost their Eastern Premiership title in controversial fashion. 

After their own match at Stoneywood-Dyce was cancelled because of a saturated pitch, the 2013 national champions needed Falkland to beat Aberdeenshire to retain the league crown.

However, their hopes were snuffed out when the crucial Mannofield encounter was also called off due to a damp patch on the outfield - enabling Shire to claim the top slot. 

And Arbroath officials are convinced the plug was pulled two hours too early and that the umpires should have given the ground “every opportunity” to recover and become playable. 

Arbroath president Geoff Fisher said: “We had club members at Mannofield and what really irked us was the failure of the umpires to make full use of the time available for the groundsman to keep working on the damp patch. 

“The game was scrubbed out before 2pm, yet under the regulations they had until 4pm to start a match. 

“Given the importance of the fixture, we think much more could have been done - especially when the piece of turf in question was 15 yards from the wicket.

“What made the situation seem even worse was that once the stumps had been pulled, the Aberdeenshire and Falkland players took each other on at football on the same surface - and in glorious sunshine. 

“I know that whatever we do will be seen in many quarters as sour grapes, but there is a principle here. 

“We will discuss the situation fully and make a decision about taking the matter further with a protest to the ruling body.” 

Shire groundsman Kenny McCurdie told how he had battled for three days to get Mannofield playable, only for the umpires to have their final say. 

McCurdie explained: “The match officials are the ones who make the call on whether any ground is playable or not - always with the health and safety of players at the forefront of their thoughts. 

“It this situation, the pitch itself was dry and in perfect condition - however in the opinion of both umpires, this small patch of the outfield was not safe to play on. 

“In the middle of the week, I saw that the weather forecast was not promising and with the water table so high, I spent a long, long time spiking and slitting the whole ground to assist the drainage process. 

“Sure enough, we had a series of terrific downpours on Friday afternoon and evening, which seem to have put paid to any chance of play up at Stoneywood.” 

McCurdie told how he was out in the middle at 6am on Saturday to continue his efforts to get the match on. 

He added: “By 8am, the whole ground was fine - except for the patch on the run-up at the north end.  

“I spiked and slit that area again and again - but the umpires decided it was still too damp and that in their judgement there would be no prospect of significant improvement in time to allow any play.” 

Elsewhere, a half century from skipper Craig Wallace was the highlight of Forfarshire’s victory over Carlton at Forthill. 

The result confirmed that SMRH finished at the foot of the table. 

Veteran Steve Knox hit 64 to inspire Heriot’s to a capital derby success over Watsonians at Myreside.


*     *    *

 Gifford Baillie Eastern Championship

DISAPPOINTED Glenrothes stalwart Greig Hopcroft announced his retirement from first-team cricket after the Fifers failed to capture the Eastern Championship, which they had led from day one 

Corstorphine grabbed the glory on the final weekend of the campaign in spite of their clash with MDAFS being rained off. 

They cracked open the champagne when Glens suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Penicuik, decisively denting their percentage. 

Hopcroft said: “I am absolutely gutted that we blew the league and promotion - I still can’t quite believe how we managed not to quite get over that line. 

“But well played Penicuik, and more importantly well done Corstorphine.

 “With sadness, I have decided to step down from the first eleven cricket and I hope to help the seconds move upwards.”

Chris Ashforth emerged as Penicuik’s match winner at Kirkhill. First, he top scored with 38 as they reached 162 for eight - then snapped up four cheap wickets to send Glenrothes sliding to 110 all out.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Scotland.

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