Clydesdale lift 2016 Citylets Scottish Cup
Clydesdale last night ended a twenty-eight year wait for Scottish Cup glory when they denied Arbroath a second consecutive success in a low-scoring thriller at Hamilton Crescent, Glasgow.
The Glasgow side, who secured the Western Premier title twenty-four hours earlier, had just too much firepower on the, lifting the country’s premier knockout competition for the seventh time.
Scottish cricket’s showpiece event, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary and back at its traditional home, lived up to expectation as two of the most competitive sides could not be separated until the final over.
Chasing a modest 169 for victory, Clydesdale needed a superb half-century from man-of-the-match Con de Lange before getting the better of wonderfully feisty Arbroath outfit who came so close to giving their exuberant supporters another trophy to celebrate.
After a steady start Dale began to lose their way after Brendan Ford produced a superb tumbling catch to remove Mo Awais off Calvin Burnett.
Carl Huyser survived two huge appeals from the Arbroath fielders before mis-cuing off the bowling of Craig Ramsay to depart for 23.
At 44-2, the Glasgow side were suddenly in need of a steadying influence but Arbroath’s bowlers, just like their Clydesdale counterparts earlier, found a way to pick up regular wickets.
Ross McLean was the star turn, removing Richie Berrington who was adjudged lbw and then gaining a second verdict to remove the obstinate Zulfi Shahid who had compiled a battling 29.
McLean, who had earlier anchored his side’s batting, went on to claim a third wicket in Zeeshan Bashir before de Lange produced a superbly controlled innings which gradually turned the game.
The Scotland all-rounder summed-up conditions perfectly, refusing to take any risks and instead skilfully finding the gaps in the face of some tight bowling while seizing on any rare loose deliveries.
He took his side to within three of the target with 51 including a couple of boundaries and two powerfully struck maximums before edging to slip.
However, Dale were virtually home and, despite the loss of one more wicket, they duly completed a two-wicket success with skipper Majid Haq unbeaten on 18.
Earlier Arbroath had found run-scoring equally challenging after electing to bat under threatening dark clouds.
A combination of nagging line and length from Abdul Sabri and Basit Ali along with a lush outfield meant that runs were hard to come by.
Sabri made the breakthrough when Ford edged behind while a further two wickets in quick succession put Arbroath firmly on the back foot.
McLean, the former Scotland U19 captain, showed commendable patience to accumulate in ones and twos while another of the Angus club’s crop of talented youngsters Jack Waller showed more aggression.
Waller was beginning to warm to his task, reaching 23 by lifting a Bashir delivery over the mid-wicket boundary before falling next ball to Berrington’s brilliant diving catch in the circle.
McLean’s long vigil came to an end when he became Andrew Scobie’s second stumping victim off de Lange.
The opener had made a painstaking 40 but he found no-one able to stay long enough to form a substantial partnership.
Instead Arbroath had to be content with a series of late cameos, Marc Petrie hitting a rapid 24 while Calvin Burnett hoisted two lusty maximums in one over off Haq but their tally of 168-7 proved just too few.
Triumphant Dale skipper Haq said: “It’s a proud moment for me to lift the cup after such a long wait.
“The guys deserve a lot of credit. We have some of the best players in the country in our line-up so it’s easy for me to captain them.
“It was a hard-fought games and and Arbroath made it really tough as we knew they would and their supporters are among the best around.
“But we also had a great backing today and I’m delighted they turned up in such big numbers to get behind the guys and help us over the line.
“It’s a great feeling.”
By Cricket Media, Photos Donald MacLeod