CSL Eastern Premier - Week 1
Champions Arbroath yesterday launched the defence of their Eastern Premier title with the sort of performance that suggests they may again be the team to beat.
Last season the Lichties carved out a series of hard-fought victories on their march to a first-ever top flight success and that pattern was replicated yesterday as Grange headed home from Lochlands empty-handed.
The Edinburgh side have been tipped in some quarters to re-establish themselves as the country’s foremost club side and, when they dismissed their hosts for 168, an opening day victory looked on the cards.
However, Arbroath fought back superbly to restrict Grange to 154, Saltires seamer Calvin Burnett claiming the bowling honours with four wickets.
His brother, Fraser, had earlier top-scored with 36 while Hamish Bartlett contributed 32.
Meanwhile Aberdeenshire’s Chris Venske was the first centurion of the new campaign as the Mannofield side – runners-up last summer – got the better of Carlton.
It looked a good toss for Gordon Drummond, the former Scotland captain, to win as he had little hesitation in putting the Dons in to bat in damp conditions at Grange Loan.
However, Venske looked steady from the start, compiling a half-century opening partnership with Calum Howard in ten overs.
That became a century stand as the pair saw off the best that the home attack had to offer before Howard, having reached 35, miscued to mid-off.
Venske, though, had no intention of giving his wicket away and, with another willing partner in overseas amateur Hayes van der Berg, the visitors began to go through the gears.
Van der Berg had made a rapid 45 before, attempting to reach a half-century in the grand manner, succeeded only in holing out to long-on.
Venske was not to be stopped and the South African-born batsman, recruited last season when he arrived in the Granite City to work in an oil-related position, moved smoothly to three figures.
He carried his bat for a brilliant unbeaten 137 while Sri Lankan professional Harsha Cooray offered a couple of lusty blows to propel Shire’s total to 264-3.
Carlton’s reply was effectively thrown off course when they lost three early wickets but a century stand between Drummond and youngster Kyle Macpherson offered some hope.
Both men reached half-centuries but both fell to run outs as the required rate rose and scoreboard pressure took its toll.
In the end Carlton fell 56 runs short, Macpherson top-scoring with a fine 77, while skipper Tyler Buchan claimed four wickets for Shire.
Meanwhile Forfarshire’s hopes of a winning return to the top flight were dashed in an extraordinary match at Goldenacre.
The Forthill side must have thought they were on course for the points after dismissing their hosts for just 88.
Aman Bailwal did the bulk of the damage with a brilliant spell of medium pace swing which yielded the first five-wicket haul of the season.
The former Scotland U19 all-rounder, now on the fringes of the senior set-up, claimed 5-29 while Heriot’s top-scorer was teenager Ryan Brown with a modest 12.
There was still time for Forfarshire to bat before tea but it proved a disastrous spell during which they slumped to18-5.
Things improved marginally on the resumption with Bailwal briefly threatening to dig his side out of a hole with a battling 23.
However, his bowling figures were to be eclipsed as South African Ulrich Jooste had a competitive debut to remember for the Edinburgh side, claiming five wickets and conceding only eighteen runs as last season’s First Division champions were all out for 60 in the twenty-seventh over.
If there was disappointment for the Broughty Ferry team, Falkland, promoted with them last season, marked their debut in the top league with a battling win over SMRH.
In a rain-interrupted clash at Scroggie Park, the Fifers dismissed their rivals for 119 and were set a revised target of 126 from 42 overs.
Conor Ryan’s half-century ensured a five-wicket victory.
Michael Leask was in typically belligerent form, the new Stoneywood-Dyce captain hitting 94 in his side’s 200-9 against Watsonians at Myreside before George Ninan’s five wickets sealed a 48-run win for the Aberdonians.