CSL Preview - 6 June
While the Eastern Premiership spotlight will be trained on the south side of Edinburgh, Arbroath skipper Marc Petrie believes the outcome of the Carlton v Grange showdown will be every bit as important to his side as it will be to the capital rivals.
Petrie and Co square up to Heriot’s on home territory, however he admitted he will be keeping more than half an ear open for news on events elsewhere.
He explained: “Of course we have to make sure we do our job and get the win at Lochlands, but we know if that happens we will make some more progress in terms of league positioning.
“Carlton and Grange have been setting the pace, however something has to give - and we hope to be able to take advantage.”
In the wake of their rickety start to the season, Arbroath are making up ground fast.
And Petrie said: “This weekend is massive for us, knowing that the top two teams are also playing each other.
“We have played excellently over the past three or four weeks and we have earned a string of comprehensive wins.
“We must take that momentum into the Heriot’s match and maintain the consistency we have built up.
“Our aim is to keep thinking positively and make sure we got on top of the opponents early and put them under pressure.
“It has to be pointed out that Heriot's pose a major threat.
“Steve Knox has been in great form so far this season with the bat and Mark Watt is their main threat with the ball.
“We must not get complacent and keep building on our recent performances.
“The big plus is that we will be at full strength, as Blair Carnegie returns for Craig Cameron.”
Forfarshire - fresh from their morale-boosting cross-Tay success at Falkland - should be too strong for Watsonians at Broughty Ferry.
Falkland will fancy their prospects of getting back on tracks when they go into battle with Stoneywood-Dyce at Peoples Park.
The Fifers are bolstered by the return of Matt Surry and Ryan Hepburn, who replace Kirk Brunton and George Gallagher.
Champions Aberdeenshire aim to steady the ship with a home win at the expense of basement boys RH Corstorphine.
CSL Western Premier Division
IT would of course be premature to talk of title deciders at the start of June but for the first time this season a potentially pivotal top-of-the-table clash looms when Kelburne entertain Clydesdale at Whitehaugh this afternoon.
It is the upstart pretenders to the throne against the established aristocracy of cricket in the west and the match is given extra intrigue by the presence in the home dressing room of Qasim Sheikh.
The former Scotland batsman came through the ranks and won many honours with the Titwood club yet today, as Kelburne captain, will attempt to mastermind their downfall.
Sheikh would love to see his new club replace his old one at the top of the table, an enticing incentive for the Paisley side in their first season in the top flight.
He said: “It’s a massive game and for me there’s a little added spice due to it being my old club.
“I have lots of fond memories playing for Clydesdale and had the pleasure of winning two premiership titles there and also many junior trophies throughout the years. They had a lot to do with my development.
“But I’m fully committed to Kelburne now and what should be a great top-of-the-table match. We started from the first division and have fought to get to the point we are now.
“Hopefully we can take Clydesdale into a tough game and get the better of them through knowing our conditions.
“They have some match-winners in their side like my good friend Majid Haq, Con de Lange who will be full of confidence with his Scotland cap, and of course Richie Berrington another friend who is at the peak of his powers at the moment.
“However stars are there to be targeted and I have plenty of weapons in my side as well.”
Sheikh points to a well-balanced bowling attack which mixes the youthful Reivers recruit Ross Mclean with veteran performers such as Dougie Wylie and Scott Hamilton and observes that his batsmen are yet to hit top form.
Both sides have won three of their five matches and Clydesdale, only ahead by a single bonus point more than their rivals, will be taking nothing for granted.
Manager Colin Mitchell said: “Kelburne are dangerous opponents and Qasim will have them well organised and motivated.”
The hosts are at full strength while Dale strengthen their batting with the inclusion of Mo Awais.
Another intriguing encounter sees East Kilbride entertain Uddingston and it is the Torrance House outfit rather than the 2013 champions who have had the better start to the season.
Victory today would see Josh Johnston’s side established as title contenders and the recipe for success has been fairly straightforward.
“All the bowlers are taking wickets at key points and partnerships have come easy for us so we will be taking that momentum into the weekend’s fixtures,” said skipper Johnston whose side visit Kelburne on Scottish Cup duty tomorrow (Sun).
It has been a case of under-achievement for Uddingston whose captain Bryan Clarke admitted: “We're not doing ourselves many favours with the bat and have to be honest that we've really let ourselves down a few times now.”
Elsewhere, champions Ayr, ahead of hosting Forfarshire in the cup, should bounce back from last week’s reverse when they meet winless West of Scotland at Cambusdoon while Renfrew will bid for their first victory against in-form Drumpellier.
Ferguslie, for whom Reivers star Michael English scored a century last week, have also hit form and that should serve them well for the tricky trip to Dumfries. Both sides then face challenging cup tests against Eastern Premier opponents, Dumfries hosting Arbroath while Ferguslie continue their travels to visit Falkland.