CSL Preview - week 3
Cricket Media preview the third week of CSL top-flight action in Eastern and Western divisions.
Kelburne may be among the early pace-setters in the Western Premier division but skipper Qasim Sheikh refuses to look beyond the challenge posed by today’s opponents East Kilbride.
The Paisley side, having negotiated potential banana skins by winning at promoted pair Prestwick and Stenhousemuir, are at home for the first time this season and appear firm favourites against a Torrance House outfit who are still looking for their first victory.
However, Sheikh said: “We have made a positive start to our campaign but it is still the early stages and we know things can all change very quickly.
“Therefore I always encourage my players to keep their feet on the ground and not get too far ahead of themselves.
“EK may have lost their opening two games but I am still very aware of the challenges they possess.
“You just have to look through their line up and any team with the likes of (Moneeb) Iqbal and (Ross) Lyons in their ranks can be dangerous.
“I have also noticed their overseas amateur has performed well so far since arriving in the country.”
Indeed, Petrus Coetzee already appears to be a useful addition to the East Kilbride ranks with bat and ball but it is Kelburne’s overseas player Brad Williams and Sheikh himself who have really shone in the opening weeks of the season.
Both men already boast a pair of half-centuries though the cautious captain knows the dominance of two players can have a negative side.
Sheikh added: “Myself and Brad have spent a lot of time at the wicket but because of that I am conscious that many others haven't.
“Here’s hoping our openers come to the party this weekend and someone gets a big one.”
Kelburne have one enforced change to what has proved a potent bowling line up with the experienced Dougie Wylie unavailable due to work commitments, his place going to former Uddingston spinner Sameer Zia.
Meanwhile East Kilbride will look for a more solid display from a top order which has yet to provide a winning platform.
Kelburne share top spot with Paisley neighbours Ferguslie who are unchanged for their trip to face an Uddingston team who are buoyed by their derby success against Drumpellier a week ago.
The third team boasting a 100% record are Dumfries and they face a stiff examination at Prestwick where the hosts have already done enough to suggest they will hold their own in the top flight.
Elsewhere, champions Clydesdale are looking for an immediate bounce back following a surprise defeat at Dumfries a week ago.
The Titwood troops entertain a Drumpellier side who are yet to win and home skipper Majid Haq is looking for a more ruthless display.
He said: “It wasn’t good enough last week because we didn’t take advantage of the good position we got ourselves into in both innings.
Dale have drafted in Kasim Farid for his first appearance of the season after scoring a century for the second eleven last week.
Ayr, aiming to hit back after a heavy defeat at Ferguslie, are still without the suspended Andi McElnea for the visit of a Stenhousemuir side who are yet to register their first top flight win.
ARBROATH skipper Marc Petrie believes Grange will be “gunning for” his men today - and he added: “We will certainly be going full tilt to claim their scalp.”
The sides clash in a crucial Eastern Premiership tussle at Lochlands - their first meeting since the end of last season when, in a dramatic climax, Grange pipped Petrie and Co for the league title and Arbroath snatched instant revenge in the Scottish Cup Final at Stirling.
What makes this afternoon’s encounter all the more intriguing is the fact that both clubs suffered painful defeats seven days ago.
The hosts were slapped down by Heriot’s at Goldenacre, while Grange were humbled by capital rivals Carlton.
Petrie said: “There is no doubt that both teams will be gunning for the win - especially after what happened last year and events last weekend.
“From our point of view, we will be concentrating on improving our own disciplines, the batting in particular.
“We gave away our wickets far too easily at Heriot’s and the lack of partnerships led to our downfall.
“Grange are a very good solid all-round unit, but as I have stressed in the past, we are not a group of guys who become too concerned with individual names on the opposition team-sheet.
“We know that if we perform to the best of our ability, we are a very tough team to beat.”
Petrie confirmed that Fraser Burnett will return to action following his controversial suspension.
He replaces Elton Willemse, who has returned to South Africa for a family visit.
Bryce Carnegie drops down to the seconds, making way for Craig Cameron, who will boost the seam attack and middle order.
Brendon Ford is absent again, having failed to fully shake off the effects of a groin strain.
Forfarshire are also aiming to get back on tracks when they welcome Falkland, who will be buoyed by their success in a tense an low-scoring collision with newly promoted Glenrothes.
Glens have found life hard in the upper flight and things won’t be any easier as they square up to Carlton in Edinburgh.
Aberdeenshire will be fancied to be too strong for Heriot’s at Mannofield, while Stoneywood-Dyce are unlikely to find the power to halt Watsonians at Peoples Park.