Domestic Preview - 9 July

08 Jul

Cricket Media preview the Eastern and Western Premier fixtures as the league reaches its eleventh week. 

Falkland all-rounder Safyaan Sharif has played down the significance of today’s derby with Glenrothes. 

With the Scroggie Park men sitting second bottom and Glens less than two percentage points above them, the match has the appearance of a relegation 20-pointer and visiting skipper Kenny Crichton has already expressed the view that the winners will survive. 

However, Sharif who returns from Scotland duty, said: “Obviously this is an important match for us – every match is. 

“But I don’t agree with Kenny’s statement as we’re only halfway through the season and there are still a lot of games to be played. 

“I am sure that we will get two or three wins so I am confident that we will not be in a situation where we will be struggling in the league. 

“With the players we have I am certain we will win on Saturday.” 

With home advantage, Falkland may start favourites but they will not underestimate their local rivals who are on a high following last week’s excellent win over Forfarshire. 

Rizwan Akbar’s five wickets and the all-round heroics of Keegan Rawling were the features of that match while, in Chris Greaves, Glenrothes have the division’s second leading run scorer and a player whose confidence was further boosted in midweek with a century for Scotland Development XI against Yorkshire Academy. 

If survival is the priority at Scroggie Park, Arbroath still have eyes on the title and victory over Heriot’s at Lochlands would see them take a significant step in the right direction by leapfrogging their opponents. 

Skipper Marc Petrie said:  “The league table certainly is tight and I said last week as long as we keep winning we're still in the race - that is what makes each week more important than the last. 

“Our form recently has been more consistent and people are starting to put in better individual performances. 

“We know from earlier in the season how dangerous a team Heriots are but, as always, we'll be concentrating on our own game.” 

Arbroath are without their leading wicket-taker Craig Ramsay while Harris Carnegie and Matthew Hurst are also unavailable but Fraser Burnett returns.  

Having lost their last two games, faltering Forfarshire face what looks like a must-win clash against leaders Watsonians at Forthill. 

The Broughty Ferry men welcome back the league’s leading run scorer Graeme Beghin who has recovered from injury and are further boosted by the return of skipper Craig Wallace. 

Both may need to be at their best if Forfarshire are to inflict only a second defeat of the season on the high-flying Myreside men. 

Third top Grange are looking for a little bit of revenge when they cross the capital to face Carlton who sit one place higher. 

Andy Brock’s side were left red-faced after being dismissed for only 74 when the sides met at the start of the season. 

It will surely be closer on this occasion. 

Aberdeenshire are looking to complete a derby double over Stoneywood-Dyce at Mannofield while the visitors desperately need to find an elusive first win of the campaign.

Gregor Preston-Jones, the Ferguslie captain, is prepared for another tough challenge as his side head to Ayr aiming to consolidate their place at the top of the Western Premier table. 

The Paisley side’s successful season to date can arguably be traced back to the corresponding fixture at Meikleriggs on the second week of the campaign when they dismissed free-scoring Ayr for just 82. 

However, the Cambusdoon troops may be a different proposition on their own patch especially since they line up with the division’s leading run scorer Michael Papps who has already amassed 530 runs at an average of 66. 

The former New Zealand international has had fine support from opening partner Neil Smith, the Western Warriors batsman, who has a healthy 348 runs to his name. 

To stem the flow of runs Ferguslie can call on one of the most potent bowling attacks in the division, Hamza Tahir leading the way with 23 wickets while Mishkal Ramsaroop and Jamey Carruthers also feature in the top ten. 

It all adds up to an intriguing contest and Preston-Jones said: “It will be another tough game for us as Ayr are a good team, especially at home with batsmen capable of taking advantage of their good batting surface. 

“Smith and Papps are two great players who have scored runs against good sides so of course we'll be looking to get them out as early as possible. 

“We have an excellent all round bowling attack with the three spinners, Hamza and Haroon Tahir plus Mishkal Ramsaroop and in recent weeks the opening partnership between Jamey Carruthers and Greg Cameron have really tested the top order of teams. 

“Hopefully we can firstly beat the weather and then defeat difficult opposition. We are still just taking each game at a time and see where we end up.” 

Clydesdale remain hot on the heels of the leaders and today the Titwood side are on something of a revenge mission when they entertain Dumfries. 

Defeat at Nunholm on the second day of the season has left Dale playing catch-up but the signs are that Majid Haq’s men have put that early blip and a further defeat to Ferguslie behind them.

While they were frustrated by the weather last Saturday, Clydesdale go into this match on a five-game winning run in the league and with their tails up following Sunday’s Scottish Cup victory over Grange. 

Dumfries, in contrast, have lost their last five games and are in danger of being dragged into the relegation battle. 

Dale welcome back Con de Lange and Richie Berrington from Scotland duty and skipper Majid Haq said: “We are playing good cricket and several guys are in top form. 

“Abdul Sabri and Basit Ali are doing a great job with the ball and the other bowlers are backing them up. No side has scored more than 175 against us which is superb. 

“With the bat guys have been impressive at times but I’m looking for more from our top six or seven. 

“If we all click I’m sure we’ll be posting scores around 300 consistently.” 

Back-to-back defeats to Clydesdale and Prestwick have seriously undermined Kelburne’s title prospects but the Paisley side will bid to get back to winning ways when they entertain bottom of the table Stenhousemuir. 

In-form Prestwick are targeting a third consecutive win when East Kilbride travel to the Henry Thow Oval while Uddingston and Drumpellier contest the Lanarkshire derby at Bothwell Castle Policies.

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