Domestic Preview - Week 10
Cricket Media preview the tenth round of matches in the Eastern and Western Premier divisions.
Forfarshire player-coach Graeme Beghin has challenged his rookie stars to prove they are ready to answer the demands of top-flight competition.
Beghin will be forced to inspire his troops from the sidelines during the tussle with Glenrothes as he battles to shake off the effects of a nasty ankle injury.
Scotland ace Craig Wallace is also absent from the Gilvenbank showdown because he is on national squad duty, leaving the Broughty Ferry brigade without their two top batsmen as they bid to remain in the top two.
Beghin said: “I suffered the injury last week while appearing for MCC against the Scotland Under-17s at Goldenacre.
“At first, there were fears that the ankle was broken, however things are improving and I am taking it on a day-to-day basis with the hope that I will be OK for next weekend’s home match against current leaders Watsonians.
“This gives us the opportunity to give youth a chance and to showcase the depth of quality at the club.
“Any team that aims to be successful must go through occasions like these and I back us to show positivity.
“I am looking forward to watching these lads in action at this level as I believe they are the makings of the Forfs team of the future.”
Home pro Chris Greaves, who returns to the fray, senses the chance to claim their second success of a demanding season - a win that would go a long way towards ensuring survival in the Premiership.
He stated: “Forfarshire have been in great form, but with a couple of their big names missing it gives us an opportunity to cause an upset.
“It has to be stressed, however, that we will still have to perform to the best of our ability and as a team unit - which we haven’t done in the campaign - and that they have a squad filled with excellent young talent.”
Watsonians - on home turf - will be expected to get the better of Aberdeenshire, whose form has been rocky to say the least.
Scotland demands have also robbed Falkland of inspirational all-rounder Safyaan Sharif for the trip to Raeburn Place to tackle champions Grange.
Pro Brock Ditchmen said: “It has been a difficult week selection-wise, with several other guys unavailable.
“Saffy will obviously be a big loss and we will go into one of the hardest tests of the season with quite an inexperienced line-up.
“Grange will also be without some of their frontline players, so it should be an interesting contest.”
Arbroath skipper Marc Petrie rejected the notion that the jaunt north to square up to basement boys Stoneywood-Dyce will be a straightforward affair.
He declared: “We are looking forward to getting the second half of the campaign under way and finding some consistency following a couple of months of mixed performances.
“I believe the destiny of the championship will go down to the wire and I am refusing to rule us out with so much cricket still to be played.”
Arbroath are almost at full strength for the Peoples Park collision, and Petrie added: “We certainly won’t be treating them lightly. They are in a difficult position - but that will make them all the more determined to begin July on a high note.”
Heriot’s will be eager to continue their promising run when they welcome Carlton to Goldenacre for the capital derby.
Ferguslie head to Stenhousemuir today as they go into the second half of their Western Premier campaign in pole position.
The leaders lost a little ground to champions Clydesdale last week when rain wrecked their chances of converting a winning position into points against Drumpellier.
However, skipper Gregor Preston-Jones, whose side have suffered just one defeat to date, remains buoyant.
He said: “The fact that Clydesdale managed to win last week when we couldn’t get over the line brings them slightly closer to them but I don’t believe days like last Saturday are where the league is won and lost.
“Only half the season has gone so there is plenty of cricket left and I'm sure there will be twists and turns around the corner.
“Most importantly we have to not worry about what other teams are doing and concentrate on our games. If we keep winning then it'll be hard for teams to catch us.”
Preston-Jones will ensure that his side treat Stenhousemuir with the respect they deserve.
Since being caught cold at Meikleriggs in the corresponding match on the opening day of the season, the top flight newcomers have adjusted to their new surroundings, managing two wins along the way.
Indeed, were it not for the imposition of 12 penalty points for a total of three rule breaches, the Tryst team would not be languishing in bottom spot.
Champions Clydesdale aim to stay hot on Ferguslie’s tails but they too face a potentially tricky trip when they head to Torrance House where East Kilbride already boast the scalp of the leaders.
Hari Singh’s team have also developed the handy knack of being able to recover from the most unpromising situations as they demonstrated a week ago by bouncing back from 76-7 to win at Uddingston.
Moreover, Hari believes his side may have struck a psychological blow in midweek, revealing: “We beat Clydesdale in the Rowan Cup semi-final on Thursday night so it gives confidence going into the match.
“We know it's a big task because they are a very good side but I always back my team at home against anyone.”
Clydesdale, meanwhile, must shake off the absence Richie Berrington who is on Scotland duty.
Skipper Majid Haq, whose side also face Grange in tomorrow’s re-scheduled Scottish Cup quarter-final, said: “It's another crucial weekend for us and I see to say that every week now.
“It’s important we keep taking one game at a time. We know EK are a very dangerous side and have two of the best all-rounders in Scotland in Moneeb (Iqbal) and Ross (Lyons).
“Sunday is another tough game against one of the best teams in Scotland in what will be a very tight match. It’s great to have home advantage and we will be looking to get some great home support to lead us to victory.
“We have got good strength in depth and I'm now looking for guys to stand up and be counted in these big double header weekends.”
Elsewhere, Kelburne are without Jak O’Connell and Dougie Wylie who are replaced by Alex Gilmour and Zohair Naseer as they try to bounce back from last week’s loss at Clydesdale to stay in touch with the top two.
However, that will not be easy as they host a Prestwick side who have their sights set on emulating today’s opponents by claiming a top three finish in their first season in the top flight.
Dumfries entertain Uddingston in a clash which will see one side ease away from the danger zone, leaving the other to look over their shoulders.
There they will see a Drumpellier side who welcome back Graeme McLaren for the visit of an Ayr outfit who are still searching for consistency.