CSL Preview - 11 July 2015
Leaders Clydesdale will today attempt to overcome the absence of two star performers and keep their Western Union title bid firmly on course with victory over Drumpellier.
The Titwood side travel to Coatbridge without Scotland duo Richie Berrington and Con de Lange but will surely take heart from the fact that the same pair missed last week’s win over Ferguslie.
Indeed, it could be said that they are without a third key player since ambitious plans to bring in Taufeeq Umar fell through this week when the former Pakistan Test sustained a dislocated shoulder.
Dale, though, are content to back the players at their disposal with manager Colin Mitchell pointing out: “It would have been nice to have a player of Umar’s pedigree but that’s not to be.
“We’re not overly concerned about it because I think the guys will take real confidence from the win against Ferguslie.
“They gave us a real stiff test and to have come through it showed a lot of character.”
Clydesdale will not treat today’s task lightly especially since Drumpellier are still involved in the fight to remain in the top flight and have players who are capable of troubling any opposition.
One of them, Sudesh Fernando, was a key figure in the WDCU Select side’s T20 win over Canada earlier in the week and the Sri Lankan will be keen to add to the 279 runs and eleven wickets he has so far claimed for the Langloan side.
The visitors are boosted by the return of fit-again Mo Afzaal and Sam Page who will make his first appearance of the season after a spell in Australia.
Closest challengers Kelburne are also on their travels, heading south to Nunholm where Dumfries will be out to avenge defeat on the second day of the season.
That was the match in which Kelburne announced themselves as a team worth keeping an eye on this term and they have continued to impress, losing just one of their seven completed fixtures.
Somewhat surprisingly that reverse came against Drumpellier and, while Kelburne skipper Qasim Sheikh might privately be hoping Drumps can balance the books by beating Clydesdale, he is more concerned with his own team’s agenda.
He said: “We have guys contributing throughout the team and we want to keep our momentum going.”
Elsewhere, Gregor Preston-Jones, the Ferguslie captain, is looking for his men to lift themselves following last week’s disappointing defeat at Clydesdale when Uddingston visit Meikleriggs.
The Paisley side remain on the fringes of the title race but Preston-Jones knows there can be no repeat of the collapse that saw his team lose their last eight wickets for thirty runs.
Having won their last two league games, Uddingston will be no pushovers and victory in Paisley could see the 2013 champions join Ferguslie in fourth place.
West of Scotland could ease their relegation fears if they can carve out only their second win of the campaign when East Kilbride visit Hamilton Crescent.
However, EK still have one eye on the title and are determined to bounce back after their Rowan Cup final defeat against Poloc on Thursday evening.
If West want to double their victory tally Renfrew would be content simply to break their duck but to do so they will have to overcome reigning champions Ayr at King George V Playing Fields.
That will be no easy task especially since Lenert van Wyk, Ayr’s South African batsman, is comfortably the Union’s leading scorer, his 408 runs having come at an average of 80.
After the first washout of the season it is back to action this afternoon as the Eastern Premier title race continues to unfold.
Sadly last week’s rain put paid to the top-of-the-table clash between Arbroath and Grange, depriving the former of the opportunity to leapfrog the front-runners.
However, both teams remain firmly in contention and Marc Petrie, the Arbroath skipper, is more interested in looking forward to today’s visit of in-form Falkland than contemplating what might have been.
He said: “Of course, we were disappointed last week having to call off the match against Grange but playing cricket in Scotland that is to be expected from time to time.
“It was just a shame it was such a big match that was unplayable.
“That’s in the past now and we will be looking to carry on our good form this weekend against a Falkland team who are playing well and have a lot of momentum with them at the moment.
“However we also have been in a good run of form in both league and cup and will be looking to continue that even with players missing.”
How sides cope in the absence of key players is always an issue in high summer as the international season reaches its peak but, in addition to losing Harris Carnegie and Jack Waller to the national U19s, Arbroath are also missing the Burnett brothers, Fraser and Calvin, who are attending a stag weekend in Iceland.
Petrie, though, believes Arbroath have sufficient strength in depth and added: “We are always confident in calling up our squad players, all of whom have first team experience and have been in good form for our second team”.
Brothers Craig and Ryan Cameron come in along with Blair Carnegie while Greig Peal has temporarily come out of retirement to face a Falkland side who are flying high after wins against Grange and Aberdeenshire.
The Fifers are missing Scotland all-rounder Safyaan Sharif but Petrie is taking nothing for granted, noting: “They have proven recently that they can perform well and win games without him and we won't be underestimating them.”
Forfarshire are also hit by call-offs for their trip north to face Stoneywood-Dyce with Craig Wallace and Michael Leask both on Scotland duty and Scott Cameron with the U19s.
Meanwhile, most cricketing eyes in the capital may be focused on events at The Grange where Scotland take on the Netherlands in the World T20 Qualifier but a couple of significant league matches will get underway in Edinburgh after the lunchtime conclusion of the international.
At East Barnton Avenue, Corstorphine will embark on their latest attempt to forge a first win of the campaign and, since leaders Grange are their visitors, Arbroath will have more than a passing interest in this one.
It could be a good time for Corstorphine to entertain their more celebrated city rivals since the visitors will be without player-coach John Blain and Scotland batting star George Munsey.
Carlton are even harder hit by call-offs for their derby with Heriot’s as skipper Preston Mommsen and fast bowler Ali Evans are on Scotland duty while all-rounder Gordon Drummond is away coaching the national U19s and in-form opener Fraser Watts is also unavailable.
Heriot’s have their own absentee in left-arm spinner Mark Watts but may see this game as opportunity to make a move towards the top half of the table.
Champions Aberdeenshire welcome Watsonians to Mannofield and nothing less than victory will do if the Dons are to harbour any lingering hopes of a successful title defence while ‘Sonians need the win to close the gap on third bottom Stoneywood-Dyce.