CSL East and West Preview
ARBROATH skipper Marc Petrie insisted his troops will stop short of wearing Grange Supporters Club scarves when they go into the fray in today’s crucial home-turf Eastern Premiership clash with Watsonians.
Petrie and Co are aiming to keep alive their quest to cling on to the title and go forward to defend their Scottish champions’ crown.
But for that to happen, pacesetters Aberdeenshire must slip up in at least one of their two remaining fixtures - with the Lichties hoping it will happen today when the Don square up to Grange at Raeburn Place.
Captain Petrie chuckled: “No, we won’t go as far as to wear Grange scarves - but we WILL certainly be thrilled if they can do us a favour, and they are quite capable of doing that.
“But when all is said and done, events in Edinburgh are totally outwith our control and all we can focus on is our own performance at Lochlands.
“Watsonians are always tricky opposition and we must keep up the momentum we have established over the past few weeks, when we have been in pretty good all-round form.
“As far as I am concerned, we don’t have any pressure on us. The title is Aberdeenshire’s to lose, so we will just do our usual thing and enjoy the cricket for cricket’s sake.
“As always, our intention will be to play in a positive and entertaining manner.”
Arbroath will be without Greig Peal (holiday) and spinner Craig Ramsay, who is at a wedding.
Their absence creates the chance for Mark Fleming and Jack Waller, who has performed well as a top order batsman for Scotland Under 17s.
In the mid-table scramble, Grange are keen to bolster their third-place status, while Falkland need to beat struggling Forfarshire at Scroggie Park to step up their bid to finish in the top half of the table in the first season after being promoted.
Elsewhere, basement boys SMRH host inconsistent Stoneywood Dyce and Carlton welcome Heriot’s to Grange Loan.
AN exciting week for Ayr Cricket Club could become even more memorable this afternoon as members of the first eleven briefly abandon their ground-staff duties and get down to the real business of playing the game – and perhaps winning a title!
Such is the volume of work involved in staging major matches that Andi McElnea and his team have been mucking in to ensure that Cambusdoon is in good nick for the ongoing one-day series between Scotland and New Zealand A which started yesterday and continues tomorrow (Sun).
However, this morning they will travel up the M77 and turn their attentions to a potentially pivotal Western Union Premier clash with West of Scotland at Hamilton Crescent when, if results go their way, the Alloway side could be champions.
Ayr remain unbeaten after a rather fraught win over East Kilbride last week and, on paper, should have little to fear from a West side who are second bottom.
Until a few weeks ago the outcome might even have looked like a formality as West, without a single victory, propped up the table.
However, the Partick side have won their last two matches and now represent a serious obstacle to Ayr’s title ambitions.
Skipper McElnea said: “It’s been a hectic week for the club and a really enjoyable one getting ready for the visit of the New Zealanders.
“All the lads have been doing their bit to have the ground looking its best because we’re pround to be hosting these games.
“But now we’ve got to focus on a really tough game.
“Every time we get a step closer to clinching the title something seems to happen to keep us waiting and we know West will be another really hard game.
“Their results have improved and their confidence will be high but I want my team to just concentrate on maintaining the standards we have set.”
West player-coach John Blain said: “We have turned things around because we’ve played better for longer periods and got the rewards.
“If we play as we can I know we’re capable of beating Ayr.”
West expect to be boosted by the return of Stewart Murray Jon Newell and Stewart Leggat while Steve Liburd, Ayr’s replacement professional from the Leeward Islands, will make his second appearance after impressing on debut.
At Titwood two teams will be waiting for Ayr to slip up as second-placed Clydesdale host third top Renfrew in a last-chance saloon encounter for both, the loser likely to be ruled out of contention regardless of the outcome at Hamilton Crescent.
Dale, also looking forward to Murgitroyd T20 finals day and a semi-final with Dumfries tomorrow (Sun), are disadvantaged by the absence of Scotland duo Richie Berrington and Majid Haq.
East Kilbride, having pushed Ayr all the way, will start favourites against bottom of the table Drumpellier at Torrance House while Dumfries could be forgiven for having one eye on tomorrow’s challenge when they host an Uddingston side who could move into the top three.