The Western Premier Division season has reached its halfway point with Prestwick still leading the way. Clydesdale’s defeat at Meikleriggs has provided a bit more breathing space at the top of the table for Fraser Macdonald’s side: those in the chasing pack, though, are lying closer to each other than ever.
Moving onto their shoulder in seventh is Tunnock’s Uddingston, who took advantage of Ayr’s loss at the Henry Thow Oval to go above them in the table. Saturday’s win over Langside was their third of the campaign, and the extraordinary innings from Mo Awais that took them to it left skipper Bryan Clarke searching for superlatives.
“I’ve said this a hundred times before, but Awais is unique,” he said. “Someone scoring 150 off a hundred balls you think would be brutal, an assault, but it’s not. It’s a thing of beauty. It’s back-foot punches and glides, it’s extra cover drives that land on the old squash court roof and balls flying into the car park and people’s gardens: there’s no other word for him but unique.
“Langside came at us really hard,” he went on. “Our former pro, Anwar Hafeez, is there: he’s a good player who had a real plan as to what he was going to do, and Azaiz Ahmad had his plan too – if it was up, it was off. We were probably on the back foot a little when they were 111 for none in the fifteenth, but Abdul Sabri came back and bowled really nicely then Ross [Lyons] came on and worked out Anwar a little bit, and as Anwar came at him he dropped one short and got him stumped. [Azaiz] was [run out], and from there we took control of the game.
“We would probably have rather been chasing 160, 170 [than 229] but we weren’t too disgruntled, knowing how flat it was and how quick the outfield was and all the rest of it,” he continued. “I just think pink ball cricket is different, and, yeah, go hard, because 220, 230 all of a sudden is not the score that it once was: that 220, 230 is worth 160, 170 with a red ball.
“But the way that Awais went about the chase was fantastic. As I said, it wasn’t about trying to smash everything: it was delicate, it was timed, it was very intelligently put together. It was about running get momentum, making sure he was taking his ones: it was about Amaan Ramzan batting beautifully alongside him, getting 60-odd but actually facilitating Awais’s innings and taking the pressure off him when it was needed. It was a great partnership, and they were absolutely buzzing at the end: they put on 207 and were delighted with it, and so were we.”
Five games on the road have brought Uddingston only one victory, by 112 runs at Whitehaugh. But by following it up with last weekend’s success, Bryan is hopeful that home advantage will play its part through the ‘back nine’ of the season.
“It was great to get a couple of wins in succession,” he said. “With the exception of Ayr, every game up until last week had been away from home for us, partly at our own request because we’d asked for a fixture swap to accommodate some hockey stuff going on later in the season, but we ended up doing five on the road and sometimes that’s very, very difficult. So we were delighted to get home to our own surroundings.
“Having said that, as a bowling team we are in transition at the moment. We missed Aamir Gul badly last weekend: he gives us ten overs that you know aren’t going to cost many runs. But it was nice to see the other guys step up: Abdul bowled beautifully as I said, Zeeshan Azhar did a great job as well, and then there was Awais and Ross too, of course, who with 4 for 39 more than contributed with the ball. But we can improve, we know that.”
Next up for Uddingston are champions Clydesdale, who are sure to provide them with a test made even sterner by their recent tribulations.
“Clydesdale will definitely be smarting after losing a couple,” said Bryan. “But you’d expect Craig Young to be back in the team after missing out last weekend – he certainly makes them better when he’s playing – and I’m sure Richie will enjoy batting here again if he’s available and fit. We’re missing Aamir and Ross as well, which will be a massive blow to our batting and bowling as well as in the field, but we’ve got plenty of guys in reserve who are desperate to step up and do well.
“We know it’ll be tough, but with Awais and Moneeb [Iqbal] – who scored a wonderful hundred at Kelburne off 80 balls or so – and the other players we have, we’ll be ready.”
Craig Young will indeed return for Clydesdale for the game at Bothwell Castle Policies alongside Zeeshan Bashir – Zain Ashraf and Owen Gould miss out – while at the Henry Thow Oval, Hasan Khan comes in for M8 Driving Ferguslie in place of the unavailable Anup Vejandla: leaders Prestwick also make a single change, with Jake Stafford replacing Tom Fleet. Jak O’Connell and Chris Brockwell return for Calero Kelburne and Your Move Dumfries respectively, while skipper James Fennah is back for McCrea FS West of Scotland’s trip to Albert Park.
Western Premier Division – 25 June 2022
SM Cricket Stirling County v Ayr (at New Williamfield)
Calero Kelburne v Your Move Dumfries (at Whitehaugh)
Langside v McCrea FS West of Scotland (at Albert Park)
Prestwick v M8 Driving Ferguslie (at Henry Thow Oval)
Tunnock’s Uddingston v Clydesdale (at Bothwell Castle Policies)
The Cricket Scotland Podcast will include a round-up of the men’s and women’s league action from across the country every Tuesday, with player interviews from our featured games. Follow @ScotlandPod on Twitter for all the latest information.