CSL Preview - 15 August 2015
Forfarshire all-rounder Umair Mohammed has told his chums at Arbroath to think again if they are expecting any assistance in their quest to claim the Eastern Premiership crown.
Arbroath jumped to the top of the table last weekend by demolishing Heriot’s, while previous leaders Grange slipped up at the hands of third-placed Carlton.
And today the destiny of the title could be settled if the Lichties snuff out the challenge of Umair and his team-mates at Lochlands and Grange succumb to fallen champions Aberdeenshire, also on home turf.
And as he looked ahead to the crucial derby clash, Mohammed was quick to insist that Forfarshire will not be in the mood to give less than 100 per cent.
He declared: “Of course we won’t be doing anything to help Arbroath.
“Yes, our guys are great friends with their lads off the pitch - but once we cross that boundary rope, it is definitely game-on.
“Arbroath have performed very strongly since their early season jitters and they aren't top of the table for no reason.
“They have some quality players and I feel spinner Craig Ramsay has been outstanding for them this year.
“I am sure it will be a very close encounter, both teams having plenty of match winners within their ranks.
“We have no pressure on us what so ever - all the pressure is on them.”
The Broughty Ferry men will be without Ryan Watson, however they will be buoyed up by Michael Leask’s fine all-round performance which helped Scotland earn victory over the MCC at Titwood.
Carlton will be aiming to maintain their momentum when they square up to Falkland, who in spite of their inconsistencies, have proved they can take any scalp on the day.
Watsonians will be favourites to beat Stoneywood-Dyce at Myreside, while basement boys RH Corstorphine are braced for another difficult afternoon as they collide with neighbours Heriot’s at East Barnton Avenue.
OUTGOING champions Ayr will today attempt to stall the title charge of Clydesdale, the team almost certain to claim their crown within the next couple of weeks.
Rather like the weather, Ayr’s defence has been something of a damp squib though they have had some excellent performance from overseas professional Lenert van Wyk, the leading batsman in the Union this season.
Contributions from the Cambusdoon team’s talented youngsters have been more sporadic than they were twelve months ago but they do go into this game with their tails up following an excellent win over West of Scotland a week ago.
On that occasion van Wyk played a secondary role as the McElnea brothers found form together, Scott scoring a brilliant century and skipper Andi claiming four wickets.
They will look for more of the same and will undoubtedly need it if they are to become only the second team to defeat Clydesdale in the league this season.
Skipper McElnea said: “We’ve got a good chance as we feel we should have beaten them earlier in the season. That defeat proved to be a defining moment in our campaign.
“I’m not that concerned with their position but would just like to see us show signs of improvement from our dip in form.”
Dale’s one loss came back in May since when they have reeled-off eight straight victories, each seemingly more impressive than the one before.
It all came together perfectly last week when Majid Haq’s side saw off then closest challengers Kelburne thanks largely to a century from Richie Berrington and eight wickets shared by Con de Lange and Haq.
With the title within touching distance – thirteen points will clinch it assuming Ferguslie win all their games – Clydesdale remain focused and are wary of an Ayr side with a point to prove.
Manager Colin Mitchell said: “I fully expect Ayr to lift their game and to feel an extra motivation from playing against us.
“It’s always difficult the year after winning a title but they haven’t gone from being champions to being a poor side.
“We know their pro is a major threat to any team and they have lots of other good cricketers - Scott McElnea’s innings last week proved it.
“I’ve always thought he had a good bit of batting talent, perhaps untapped, but that could be the innings that sees him emerge as a genuine all-rounder.
“We are under no illusions about this game. Ayr is a hard place to go and you generally get a true wicket where neither side gets an advantage.
“We will need to be at our best.”
Clydesdale are at full strength though Berrington may only play as a batsman after suffering back spasms during the week.
Elsewhere, having claimed second place from their Paisley neighbours, Ferguslie must win to keep any pressure on Clydesdale.
They face a tricky trip to face an East Kilbride team who are again on course for an impressive top-four finish.
The visitors have two of the Union’s top four leading wicket-takers in Hamza Tahir and Jamey Carruthers while Michael English, who scored a match-clinching 64no for a Scotland XI against MCC in midweek, is third in the batting charts.
Renfrew have been devoid of such individual excellence this season, the main reason they sit bottom of the table and poised to fall through the relegation trapdoor.
They could take West of Scotland with them if they can fashion a first win of the campaign at King George V Playing Fields today though West can give themselves a lifeline with victory.
The Hamilton Crescent side, though, must win all their remaining games and hope that Drumpellier lose theirs, the Langloan side today heading south to face the 2012 champions Dumfries.