While Ferguslie were keeping up the pressure on Clydesdale with a resounding victory over Prestwick last weekend, the battle for survival at the other end of the Western Premier Division table was taking its own significant twist. Dumfries’ nine-wicket triumph over Stirling County moved them out of the bottom two for the first time in a month, and with only two games now remaining, skipper Chris McCutcheon is delighted that his team has given itself a more than fighting chance.
“It was a very good, encouraging performance all round,” he said. “Stirling were a wee bit short on some of their regulars which did help us in terms of their depth, but it was still key for us to get [Harry] Booker and [Akram] Shakoor out up front and then Brandon [McMullen] too, who are obviously big players. Brandon isn’t bowling at the moment because of injury, which was another aid I guess, but on the day, bar a bit of ground fielding early on, I thought the guys bowled very, very well.
“And I would say we convincingly chased it down,” he continued. “Batting has been one of our weak points this year because we’ve struggled for players as I’ve mentioned before, but Adam Malik is back after being stuck in Pakistan for a long time, and he got 48 not out batting really, really well. We’re very glad to have him,” he added. “He’s already won us a game with the bat, so we’re very happy.”
While still philosophical about what the rest of the season may hold, Chris is satisfied that the club is now, at least, in a better position to do itself justice.
“With two games to go anything can happen, I guess,” he said. “We could be dragged back into the bottom two or leapfrog Langside or even West depending on how the results play out. But we’re at full strength now and welcoming back a couple more players this week, so we’ve got a bit of momentum going.
“Even in the seconds, we’ve got a pool of nearly thirty players to choose from this week whereas previously we were down to eighteen or nineteen some weeks.
“We’ve got numbers back, we had a good grass-wicket session last night in the good weather, and there’s a good buzz about the club again. Undefeated in September in all formats!” he laughed.
Still unknown, at time of writing, is the outcome of the inquiry into Dumfries’ controversially-abandoned game with Greenock – “it’s obviously a big decision for all involved and not an easy one either,” said Chris, “but we remain optimistic” – but the club remains focused on matters within its control, beginning with Saturday’s trip to Uddingston.
“Well, after they bowled us out for thirty in our first game this season, there’s hopefully a bit of revenge on the cards!” said Chris. “But we were very weak in that game, and they did the job on us that was only to be expected at that time. They have got a very, very good bowling attack, but I would like to think that if we can get a couple of good wickets we can give ourselves a chance.
“It’s going to be a really tough challenge, but the good news is that it’s a nice place to play and we get to catch up with Niall [Alexander], one of our former players, so we’re really looking forward to it.”
Dumfries’ relegation rivals Poloc face a tricky trip to Prestwick after losing at Bothwell Castle Policies last weekend, while New Williamfield hosts the mid-table clash between Stirling County and West of Scotland. The division’s top two are both at home, Clydesdale to now-relegated Greenock and Ferguslie to Langside, who gave the leaders an almighty scare before succumbing by a single wicket at Titwood. If Ferguslie comes through that test unscathed, Meikleriggs will host the title decider next Saturday.
Western Premier Division – 11 September 2021
Clydesdale v Greenock (at Titwood)
M8 Driving Ferguslie v Langside (at Meikleriggs)
Prestwick v Poloc (at Henry Thow Oval)
SM Cricket Stirling County v McCrea FS West of Scotland (at New Williamfield)
Tunnock’s Uddingston v Your Move Dumfries (at Bothwell Castle Policies)
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