Domestic Preview - Week 18
Cricket Media preview the final round of 2016 domestic fixtures in the Eastern and Western Premier divisions.
Majid Haq insists the punishment handed out by the WDCU will make Clydesdale even more determined to retain their Western Premier title.
The Titwood side were rocked when the WDCU handed out a 25-point penalty for failing to follow protocol in cancelling last week’s match against Prestwick.
Dale thought the title had been won following that abandonment but they now effectively need to win it for a second time after East Kilbride were handed a lifeline by this week’s dramatic events.
Haq, who lifted the Scottish Cup aloft last Sunday, goes back to his first club Kelburne knowing victory is essential to secure another piece of silverware.
Defeat, coupled with an East Kilbride win over Uddingston, would see Dale’s double dream wrecked.
Haq said: “We feel an acute sense of injustice about the punishment we’ve been given and way the WDCU handled last week’s events.
“I know the club intends to appeal and so hopefully matters can be resolved in a much fairer way.
“But, for now, what has happened will only serve to motivate the players who I know will re-double their efforts to win the title again.
“For me it will be very special if I get to lift the trophy at the club where I started out as a youngster.
“We’ll need another big performance against a good Kelburne side but the lads have shown they can handle pressure situations.”
Haq has recovered from a niggle and will lead the same eleven who won the cup final against Arbroath.
Meanwhile East Kilbride skipper Hari Singh, another former Dale man, welcomes the chance his side have to win the title for the first time even if they remain underdogs.
He said: “All this has done is just give us an outside chance. Everything has to go right for us and we are well aware of that and not getting carried away.
“All our focus is on our game. Uddingston are a tough side and we always have close games against them.”
Elsewhere Dumfries entertain Ayr while relegated pair Stenhousemuir and Drumpellier end with games against Prestwick and Ferguslie.
Victory at Hillhead will see Greenock crowned Division One champions at the expense of Poloc whose clash against Stirling last weekend was re-instated as a tie after league officials refused to allow the use of video evidence to prove an umpiring error had been made to deny the Shawholm men the winning run.
WHILE the focus of the Scottish cricket fraternity will be trained firmly on the race for the Western Union crown, clubs in Tayside and Fife will be eager to finish the Eastern Premiership campaign on a high note following a summer of mixed fortunes.
Forfarshire - inspired by the coaching skills of Graeme Beghin and big-hitting of skipper Craig Wallace - have taken over from Arbroath as the leading performers in the league.
Outgoing champions Grange are their opponents at Broughty Ferry, and despite the fact little is at stake, the hosts will be keen to put down a marker for next season.
It has been a disappointing few months for Arbroath in the wake of their trophy-winning run in recent years.
Suspensions, a spate of injuries to key men and work commitments have prevented the Lichties fielding their optimum line-up on a regular basis.
Their most recent dent was delivered by Clydesdale in last weekend’s Scottish Cup Final in Glasgow and this afternoon they will be bidding to bounce back against Aberdeenshire at Lochlands.
Glenrothes have been dealt a painful lesson on the realities of life in the top flight, however they will go into their second season at this level much better prepared to compete strongly.
They face another tough task when they take on Watsonians, who were pipped by Carlton for the crown. The new top dogs will be in end-of-term party mood as they welcome basement boys Stoneywood-Dyce to Grange Loan.
Due to the ongoing disciplinary issues in the Western Union, Carlton won’t know until close of play today who they will be facing in the Grand Final next weekend.
Falkland, meanwhile, will just wish the 2016 season never happened as they reflect on a series of crushing defeats. They sign off on home turf against an improved Heriot’s outfit.