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11 May

From Cricket Media: Willie Dick and David Kelso

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Western Premier Division


Saltires all-rounder Majid Haq is the new skipper of Clydesdale and would like nothing better than to start the campaign with victory over the champions. It was at this stage last season that the Glasgow team lost at Dumfries in a result which at once lifted the Nunholm side and appeared to spark self-doubt in the Dale ranks. That said, the Titwood men still took last season’s title race to the final day of the campaign and, having been boosted by the arrival of Shoaib Khan from Pakistan, they will be among the frontrunners again this term. It may be tougher for Dumfries to match last year’s heroics especially since inspirational captain Stuart Corbett-Byers has retired. Defeats to Ferguslie and Heriot’s in early Scottish Cup jousts do not augur well but Dumfries remain resilient. 

Prediction: Home win



Neither side has had much to shout about in recent seasons, though Drumpellier’s fourth place finish was commendable during a rain-curtailed campaign last summer. However, both teams look ready to put pressure on the more fancied sides. Andi McElnea, Ayr’s new skipper, has a shrewd cricketing brain and, with Kiwis Neale Parlane and Michael Schofield brought in to help develop a crop of talented youngsters, the Cambusdoon side could be among the darkhorses. So, too, could Drumpellier who have drafted in former Pakistan Test batsman Muhammed Ramzan as player-coach and Australian fast bowler Jarrod Armitage.

Prediction: Away win



Uddingston have Sri Lankan professional Ras Priydarshana back for a fourth season while Vassu Reddy and Neil Martin are among a number of recruits. However, the return to fitness of UAE international Sammy Zia, who missed the whole of last season, may be the biggest boost of all to the Bothwell club as they attempt to mount a challenge. On the negative side, the departure of Paul Hoffmann is sure to be felt. Stirling, having dodged relegation last season, probably face another battle to stay up especially since Josh Edwards has left to join Grange. The outcome of today’s clash will give a clear pointer of what lies ahead for both teams. 

Prediction: Home win



Having been in contention until the final Saturday last summer, West start among the favourites to be in the running for honours again especially since a clutch of youngsters are a year older and more experienced. Led again by player-coach John Blain, who has signed a new three-year deal, the Partick men will be warned to take nothing for granted against a Renfrew side who are determined to enjoy their first season in the top flight. For seven seasons Pakistani professional Ahmed Said has been a talismanic figure and, despite facing a higher quality of opposition, he is sure to score heavily on Premier Division wickets.

Prediction: Home win


Eastern Premier Division


Potentially the most attractive fixture on the day’s card sees two of Scottish cricket’s major forces scrap for an early advantage. Grange may start favourites to secure their first silverware after two barren seasons but the Dons have already shown impressive form in the Scottish Cup and, in Australian fast bowler Daya Singh, have unearthed a match-winner as his bowling and batting heroics against Uddingston demonstrated. Grange’s former skipper and Scotland batsman Sanjay Patel has retired but the Portgower Place side, boosted by the arrival of Josh Edwards, are still able to name nine players with representative honours for today’s opener. It would have been a full housed but for injuries to Gordon Goudie – another new recruit – and Simon Smith.

Prediction: Home win



Carlton legend Cedric English returns to Grange Loan as SMRH make their first appearance in the top flight. The former Scotland all-rounder is now player-coach of the Inverleith club and was instrumental in their first division title success as was young Australian batsman Brayden Tracey who has returned for a second season. However, SMRH received a setback this week when professional Kieran Neoma-Barnett was forced to remain in New Zealand with a calf injury. Carlton, among the favourites for the title, are led this season by interim Saltires captain Preston Mommsen while the Australian-based batsman Hamish Gardiner has already made a big enough impression to be involved with Scotland’s second string and U19 left-arm spinner Chayank Gosain is a developing asset.

Prediction: Home win



Scottish Cup holders Heriot’s go into their opening league fixture in good spirits following last week’s win over Western Premier champions Dumfries and player-coach Steve Knox believes his side can find the consistency needed to challenge. Knox will again be a key figure at the top of the order while young bowler Mark Watt, picked for the Highlanders’ Pro Series squad, should have an increasing influence along with Cammy Farrell and the returning Adam Lockhart-Kraus. Stoneywood-Dyce face a major challenge to match last season’s fourth placed finish especially since Gordon Goudie has departed. A big weight will fall on the shoulders of South African youngster Taariq Chiecktey and Scotland youth player Omar Afridi.

Prediction: Home win



Title-winning captain Stuart Chalmers has handed the reins to namesake Ewan as the Myreside men attempt to show last season’s success was no flash in the pan. However, they are sure to miss the influence of South African Jean Symes, having opted to do without an overseas professional. Arbroath will also rely for the main part on home-grown talent though young Australian Hamish Bartlett will perform overseas amateur duties. Brendon Ford, signed from neighbours Forfarshire, will be an important addition while Scotland U19 captain Ross McLean may flourish at the top of the order. Meanwhile, the Lochlands side have pulled off a coup by signing Alvin Pollard, the cousin of big-hitting West Indies star Kieron who will make his debut at Myreside.

Prediction: Away win

ARBROATH president Geoff Fisher has backed new skipper Marc Petrie to make a positive impression in his first season in charge of the Lochlands brigade.

He issued his forecast as Petrie and his men prepared to open their CSL Eastern Premier Division with the toughest possible task - an away clash with champions Watsonians.

Scotland gloveman Petrie has taken the reins from Fraser Burnett, who has university study commitments.

And Fisher is already convinced they have the right man at the helm.

He said: "I have been very, very impressed with the way Marc has gone about things since the start of the season, both on and off the field.

"And that makes me confident that we will have a much more consistent and solid campaign than we did last year, when it was all a bit of a scramble.

"We have opted not to have an overseas pro this time round and i believe that will bring the best out of the local lads.

"They will shoulder more responsibility and go into matches with extra determination, knowing there is no big-name safety net."

Young opening bat and spinner Ross McLean will act as deputy to Petrie.

Though they have no pro, Petrie thinks new recruit Alvin Pollard will be a valuable addition to the ranks.

He explained: "Alvin is from the Caribbean island of St Vincent and is a cousin of the West Indies star Keiran Pollard.

"He is a UK resident on account of being in the Marines and luckily for us he is based here in Arbroath.

"I am sure he will be a very useful performer with the new ball."

There is a big Tayside and Fife presence in race for glory in the Eastern First Divisionm with Freuchie and Glenrothes in particular aiming to shake off their rocky Scottish Cup form.

Freuchie open their account on home turf against Corstorphine and veteran David Cowan believes there will be a big improvement following last weekend's embarrassing hammering at the hands of Drumpellier. 

He said: "The crossover point between the football and cricket seasons was always going to be an extra challenge for us.

"Now we have the footballers back, we can field a more competitive line-up."

Forfarshire's quest to return to the top flight at the first time of asking begins with a tussle with old rivals West Lothian at Broughty Ferry - and they will be hoping to be as competent with the bat as they were with the clubs last week when they won the three-way golf match with Arbroath and Dundee HSFP at Alyth!

The High guys will be seeking to consolidate in this division after their promotion. They will, however, be clear-cut underdogs when they head across the bridge to Falkland.

And, in spite of their Cup difficulties, Glenrothes will fancy their chances of a positive result at Penicuik.

View other news from May 2013

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