CSL week 3 previews

24 May

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Cricket Media previews this weekend’s fixtures in the top flight of the Scottish divisions in the East and West of the country.

Western Premier Division


Given a favourable weather forecast, it can confidently be predicted that the Western Premier Division will finally bowl into action at the third time of asking. It has been a frustrating fortnight for all concerned and perhaps for Clydesdale in particular since the Titwood side were scheduled to entertain reigning champions Dumfries on the opening day and had hoped to lay down a marker. However, without a ball bowled during the opening two weeks, no-one has lost ground and Clydesdale are arguably in better shape today given the availability of Karim Farid and the recent acquisition from West of Scotland of Anjan Luthra, the former Scotland U19 batsman. Saltires seamer Safyaan Sharif remains sidelined by injury. Ayr, confident of improving on last season’s sixth place finish, will be wary of a backlash following Clydesdale’s midweek defeat to Kelburne in the Murgitroyd Cup.

Prediction: Home win



It is a mark of how far these two clubs have come that this is their first-ever top flight meeting. As reigning champions, Dumfries start favourites but Renfrew are determined to make their mark in their maiden Premier Division fixture and will take inspiration from the achievements of their former SNCL Championship rivals. Home skipper Scott Beveridge has identified Australian-born fast bowler Peter Loszczyk as a key player in his side’s title defence. Said Ahmed, beginning his eighth campaign, will spearhead Renfrew’s bid to establish themselves in the division.

Prediction: Home win



Having already lost twice in the Scottish Cup, Stirling are eager to launch their league campaign with victory and take some encouragement from their last Saturday outing when they went down narrowly to Forfarshire. Ross Gelderboem’s half-century in that game suggests the South African will be a key figure. Drumpellier meanwhile want to carry their cup form into the league after standout wins against Watsonian, Weirs and Freuchie. Player-coach Muhammad Ramzan has already made a big impression on his return to Langloan, skipper Graeme McLaren saying: “Ramzan’s influence has been first class. There is a better work ethic and people want to do well for him.”

Prediction: Away win



Dumfries may be reigning champions and Clydesdale favourites but Uddingston and West are both targeting a title push. Home skipper Bryan Clarke said: “We are looking forward to getting our campaign up and running and we always enjoy our games against West. We’ve managed to play a couple of T20 games over the last two weeks and have trained well so hopefully we can hit the ground running. Anyone who gets on a good run early could be difficult to catch especially in an already short league programme.” West player-coach John Blain declared: “We’re expecting a high-scoring match on a historically good pitch and we will have to be at our best against a strong Uddy team.” The Bothwell side are without the experienced Ricky Bawa but West have major selection problems with Gavin Smith, Dave McNulty and Ian Cran all out, meaning much will depend on Blain’s ability with the ball.

Prediction: Home win


Eastern Premier Division


This should be the day’s top match between two teams who are not only unbeaten but have genuine aspirations to challenge for the title. Aberdeenshire skipper Tyler Buchan summed-up the mood in the home camp when he said: “The boys are really up for this one after beating Grange in our first game and then having the frustration of being rained-off last week. “We know it will be another big test but that’s what you want.” Carlton and Saltires captain Preston Mommsen, available for the trip to Mannofield despite tomorrow’s YB40 clash with Derbyshire, said: “We’ve made a strong start and are determined to keep it going at a venue where it is never easy.” The Dons are without Ian Brand who is working offshore while Tony McKenna is getting married. Matthew Hays comes in for his first game of the season while Scotland U15 star Ryan West is handed his top team debut. Carlton youngster Matthew Wells deputises behind the stumps for Jamie Kerr who misses out due to a family bereavement.

Prediction: Away win



Wins a fortnight ago means something must give as these two attempt to establish themselves as genuine title contenders. Arbroath skipper Marc Petrie said: “We are on a good run of form, having had wins in the Scottish Cup prior to beating Watsonian in the league and we want to keep that going to create even more momentum. It will be great to get back into action after the disappointment of last week’s rain and we believe if we execute our skills and take personal responsibility with can get the win.” Stoneywood-Dyce all-rounder Michael Leask is relishing his joust with Saltires team-mate Calvin Burnett. He said: “We are good pals but there will be keen rivalry during the game before we become team-mates again on Sunday.” Matthew Hurst comes into the home team in place of Alvin Pollard who is unavailable while the Aberdonians are at full strength.  

Prediction: Home win


Opening day defeats were not what either of these sides wanted but losses to Aberdeenshire and Arbroath respectively merely heightens the need to put points on the board today. Grange, having recruited shrewdly, were among the pre-season favourites to relieve champions Watsonian of their title and Neil McCallum’s men will surely find form sooner rather than later. Henry Edwards and Giles Holmes are unavailable for the hosts who draft in Iain Worth and Drew Weir. ‘Sonians cross the capital with skipper Ewan Chalmers hoping to score the runs that could see him force his way into the Saltires starting line-up for tomorrow’s (Sun) clash with Derbyshire.

Prediction: Home win


Both sides are bidding to put a first win on the board following defeats on the opening day and Heriot’s, with all the top flight experience, start favourites. However, they are without one of their most influential performers in Sean Weeraratna who has work commitments. Player-coach Steve Knox is looking for Andre van Niekerk to make a big impact in what is his first top team appearance for more than a year. SMRH player-coach Cedric English is expected to shake off the effects of a hamstring injury to play.

Prediction: Home win

First Division Preview - David Kelso

Forfarshire will also be minus a potential match winner when they square up to Falkland at Forthill. 

New overseas signing from Australia David Colin-Thome is sidelined with a hamstring problem, which is likely to rule him out for two or three weeks. 

Youngster Scott Cameron is handed an opportunity to stake a claim for a regular place in the first team, with captain Craig Wallace wanting Shire to carry on where they left off against West Lothian last time out. 

He declared: "We produced an impressive all-round display that day. Fingers crossed it will be another flat track. 

"Other than David being absent, the team is a good balance between young and old." 

Elsewhere in the eastern zone, Freuchie will fancy their chances of success against West Lothian at Linlithgow, while Dundee HSFP have an opportunity to break their campaign duck at the hands of Penicuik. 

It is the same scenario for Glenrothes, however at least they have home advantage against Corstorphine. 

In the Western Division, Poloc will be striving for instant revenge when Eeat Kilbride pitch up at Shawholm for the second time in four days. 

On that occasion, the visitors snatched a tense six-run triumph in the League Cup. 

Home spokesman Keith Young said: "While the T20 format is hardly an accurate guide to form in the longer game, it can still provide some insight as to how the teams might match up to one another."

Poloc, who are taking on EK for the first time in the league, field the same side who were denied action by the weather over the past two Saturdays.

Kelburne should have the edge over Greenock at Whitehaugh and Ferguslie ought to make it a Paisley double at the hands of Prestwick at Meikleriggs. 

There is little to choose between the sides at Albert Park as Weirs entertain Stenhousemuir.


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