BRYAN Clarke, the jubilant Uddingston captain, lavished praise on his Western Premier title winners after they held their nerve to lift the trophy for the first time in six years.
The Bothwell Castle troops made the tricky trip to Titwood knowing they needed to beat Clydesdale to be sure of becoming champions.
In the event, Prestwick’s home defeat to Ferguslie ultimately rendered the outcome meaningless but Uddingston took the title in style with a convincing 85-run win over a Dale side for whom Scotland all-rounder Richie Berrington made a rare appearance.
Sent in to bat in challenging conditions, the visitors were in some trouble when Mo Awais, Anwar Hafeez and Hari Singh all departed cheaply while Umar Razzaq (3-47) was among the wickets.
However, superb fourth wicket stand of 150 between Amir Gul (59) and Gavin Bradley (85) propelled them to a competitive total of 233-5.
Dale’s response was dominated by Berrington who looked as if he might single-handedly put Uddingston’s title hopes back in the balance.
The Scotland man had reached 69 but was running out of partners when he tried a reverse sweep off Hafeez and was caught, paving the way for the Lanarkshire team to close out their win, Scotland pace bowler Gavin Main claiming 3-14.
Clarke said: “It was a great day for the club and we’re all delighted.
“It was probably a good toss to lose as I’d probably have put them in as well but Gav and Amir was the story of our innings – they put together a fantastic partnership and we felt 233 was pretty good.
“Clydesdale lost a couple of early wickets but Richie was going well and there’s always a chance when he’s in but we were content to worry about the others and that’s how it panned out.”
Clarke, Gul and Main were the only regulars in both 2013 and 2019 title winning sides and comparing the two successes, Clarke said: “This year was probably a more competitive league and the weather has kept it interesting with some big games being washed-out.
“Every time over the last few weeks where we’ve had an opportunity to stretch our lead it has rained so we’ve really had to make sure we’re on our game when we have played and the boys have been brilliant.”
Meanwhile, Clarke and his team were the subject of a glowing tribute from Uddingston president Paul Hoffmann.
The former Scotland fast bowler said: “The team deserved the title. They’ve always found a way to win this year.
“There were games where we had to defend low totals and our bowlers were always able to perform. Likewise, when we had to chase 250 against Prestwick mid-season our batsmen stood up.
“Bryan has been a great club leader. The players have responded to him. They know how much effort he puts into the club. He spends a lot of his personal time working on the ground. He’s often down there at 7am on game days helping to get the ground ready.
“He also deals with a lot of admin off the pitch, as well as the responsibilities that come with being the captain. I’ve played for many clubs in my career but I don’t know anyone who puts the effort into a club like he does.”
Uddingston will play Eastern Premier champions Forfarshire in next weekend’s Cricket Scotland’s Grand Final.
Meanwhile, Prestwick’s hopes were extinguished when they slipped to only their second defeat of the campaign, deposed champions Ferguslie producing one of their best batting performances of the season to post 255-7 at the Henry Thow Oval before dismissing the hosts for 213.
That result means that West of Scotland finished runners-up after beating Stirling by 56 runs in a reduced overs match at New Williamfield.