CSL Premier Preview - Week 1
The sides go head-to-head at Broughty Ferry, with seamer Crichton insisting the aim of the newly promoted Fifers is simply “to compete.”
He declared: “No matter what happens, no one connected to the club will ever forget the day Glenrothes made it to the Eastern Premiership.
“We all know that every match will be a massive challenge - but we also know we are capable of performing to a level which is at least the equal of the other teams in the division.
“We have a squad featuring youth and experience, with talent across the board.
“The guys are familiar with Forthill and confidence is high that we can come out on top there.
“Our target for the season is to compete strongly and we will be delighted to end up in mid-table.”
Shire have lost Scotland all-rounder Michael Leask to Somerset, however spokesman Graeme Beghin stated: “A number of our younger players will have a greater presence this summer, which is good for cricket in general.
“We are all motivated to play true Forfs cricket, which means going into every match with a positive mindset, backed up by good skills on the field.”
Arbroath were pipped at the post last term by Grange and their cause wasn’t helped by losing their first two games - a fact that still jars with skipper Marc Petrie.
Preparing for the home-turf tussle with Stoneywood-Dyce, the wicketkeeper said: “A fast start is a must, after what happened 12 months ago and we are comforted by having pretty much the same group of players available.
“Having left school, Jack Waller is around for the whole season and he will slot into the top order.”
One of the high points of last season for Falkland was defeating champions Aberdeenshire - and they open their account against latest top dogs Grange at Scroggie Park, with bowler Ryan Hepburn stressing: “We are better prepared than we have ever been.”
He added: “The boys have been really positive during the pre-season under the stewardship of new player-coach, Stephen Boyd.
The villagers are without Jack Henderson, who is away in New Zealand, however they will be bolstered by the presence of Boyd, Deeno Ruhana, Jimmy Smithurst and Paul Spillane.
They all make their competitive debuts today.
Elsewhere, Carlton will be keen to make home advantage count in the capital derby with Heriot’s, while Aberdeenshire will be fancied to get their campaign up and running by claiming the scalp of Watsoniands at Mannofield.
CSL Western Premier
Majid Haq has ordered his Western Premier champions to focus on a successful title defence.
Skipper Haq helped Clydesdale end a ten-year wait for a major league title last season and he believes his side can match that effort this summer.
They launch their campaign against East Kilbride this afternoon at what is likely to be an unseasonal chilly Titwood and Scotland’s record cap holder and wicket-taker wants a winning start.
Ultimately Haq would love to see Dale end the east’s dominance of the domestic game – sides from the Eastern Premier having won the CS Grand Final in each of the four years since its inception, including Grange’s success against the Titwood men last August.
However, he warned: “We can’t afford to get ahead of ourselves and the only way we can challenge the best from the east is by winning the Western Premier.
“It was great to get across the line last year after a few near misses but now that we are champions we have to make ourselves the dominant force in the west.
“That is what we are determined to do and hopefully we can start the process against an East Kilbride team I rate highly.
“Grange have certainly set the benchmark and we want to get to that level but we have to take it a step at a time.”
Haq, who returned to Scotland last week following a holiday in Pakistan, is delighted to get back on the field following a turbulent winter which saw him lose his Cricket Scotland contract.
However, national coach Grant Bradburn recently insisted the door was still open to the Paisley-born all-rounder and Haq, looking lean and hungry following his break, would love the chance.
He added: “Although I was on holiday I worked hard in nets when I was in Pakistan and I can’t remember feeling fitter.
“I just want to concentrate on turning in the performances that can help Clydesdale win matches and see what follows.”
The Titwood side will hand league debuts to teenager Calum Drummond and the former Poloc professional Carl Huyser, now Dale’s development officer.
East Kilbride are skippered this season by Harmanjit Singh, one of three former Clydesdale players, along with Ross Lyons and Craig Smith, who would love to upset their old mates.
Elsewhere Kelburne, last year’s runners-up, face a potentially tricky trip to newly promoted Prestwick who have young Scotland A recruit Mitchell Rao in their ranks.
The Paisley side hand a debut to former Uddingston batsman Sameer Zia.
Ayr are without the suspended Andi McElnea for the visit of Drumpellier but welcome back former New Zealand Test batsman Michael Papps who scored more than 2,700 runs for them from 2009-11.
In the absence of skipper Gregor Preston-Jones, who is unavailable, Ferguslie are captained by Jamey Carruthers for the visit of newly promoted Stenhousemuir for whom Aamir Shahzad scored a century in a pre-season clash with Weirs.
Uddingston, with three former players currently making their way on the county circuit, will hand more responsibility to a new crop of youngsters like Niall MacLeod, Fergus Clarke and Sam Allan.
They entertain a Dumfries side who welcome back Australian Josh Geary but are without highly-rated teenager Chris McBride who will spend the season with Durham Academy.