Grange savour CSL Final win
Harris Aslam savoured the best performance of his fledgling career as Grange outgunned Clydesdale to lift the CS Grand Final Trophy at Bothwell Castle Policies on Saturday.
However, the teenager did not overlook the part played by absent friends in a year of outstanding success for the Edinburgh club.
The Eastern Premier champions were without four stalwarts for the end-of-season showpiece with player-coach John Blain, paceman Raj Routray, batsman George Munsey and off-spinner Tom Sole all unavailable.
And it was the influence of Blain which the young leg-spinner felt moved to highlight – just as captain Andrew Brock had done moments earlier as he received the trophy.
Aslam, whose brilliant six-wicket haul earned him the man-of-the-match award, declared: “I’ve absolutely loved working with John Blain again.
“I worked with him when I was with the Scotland U17s a couple of years ago and he was a great help to me then as well.
“I know he puts a lot of hard work in and, although neither John nor I were at Grange last season, I know his commitment has rubbed off on the boys.”
There were clear signs of Blain’s never-say-die attitude in the way his side first battled to post a challenging 231-9 and then pegged their rivals back after Clydesdale had come flying out the blocks to reach 88-0 in the eighteenth over.
It was skipper Brock who made the breakthrough when Mo Awais, having made a sparkling 54, holed out to Aslam at long-off.
Aslam got the first of his wickets when Con de Lange picked out Chis Sole at short cover and the young leg-spinner, having removed Dale’s player-coach, made it a memorable double when he then found the edge of skipper Majid Haq’s bat.
The collapse was now in full swing, the Titwood side contriving to lose their last eight wickets for just 21 runs as Aslam claimed 6-40 and Brock completed the job with 4-39 to seal a 90-run success.
Earlier, Grange batted with great intelligence, patiently laying a platform which allowed them to accelerate in the closing overs.
The experienced Neil McCallum mirrored the team effort by taking 94 balls to reach his fifty before accelerating to 70 while also giving the strike to Gordon Goudie who bludgeoned 45 from only thirty-two balls with three huge sixes as the two former Saltires team-mates added 70 in ten overs.
That contrasted with the previous twenty overs when McCallum and Ian Worth had added just 61 runs while Clydesdale had appeared content to contain rather than attack.
Instead it was the two Grange spinners who showed the killer instinct, albeit on a track which offered more assistance as the day went on.
Aslam added: “This is the best feeling in the world right now.
“We were missing a few key bowlers like Tom Sole so I knew it had to be a big day for me and it couldn’t have gone any better.
“It’s my best bowling performance for Grange and it came at the perfect time.”
Aslam will now go off to prepare for what he hopes will be a starring role for Scotland in the U19 World Cup in Bangladesh in January while Clydesdale, having failed to end the east’s dominance of the Grand Final, may briefly lick their wounds before coming back stronger.
Even in defeat, Haq expressed his determination to build on the success of this season’s Western Union triumph.
He said: “It’s a big disappointment to lose out as we did with too many soft dismissals although Harris deserves credit for bowling really well.
“But we definitely want to defend our Western Union title and return for another go at winning the Grand Final.”