After the extraordinary end to Prestwick’s game with Uddingston last week, all eyes will again be on the Henry Thow Oval as the third round of fixtures in the Western Premier Division gets underway on Saturday. The hosts welcome Clydesdale, who will be looking to reinforce their own title credentials after a similarly unbeaten season so far.
With league wins over Uddingston and Dumfries, and Stoneywood-Dyce in the last sixteen of the Scottish Cup, ‘Dale captain Paddy Barbour is pleased with his side’s promising start to the campaign.
“[The league games] were pretty similar, actually,” he said. “We bowled them out for 130, 140, and although we then had a slightly more difficult time in each chase than we might have, I always felt that we were going to get there in the end.
“But then we had the Scottish Cup on Sunday where we managed to rack up a big total [of 285 for 5],” he added, “so we have scored plenty of runs as well. If we can put all three aspects together at once, that’d be good!”
Perhaps most impressive of all has been the performance of Clydesdale’s youngsters, with Owen Gould and Bahadar Esakiel both standing out alongside the more established Daniel Cairns. Wicketkeeper Gould batted at three in the win over Dumfries, top-scoring with 26, while Esakiel, having earlier taken 2 for 28, was there at the end to help see his side to victory.
“They’re both great batsmen who have been at the lower end of the order because our middle order’s quite strong,” said Paddy, “but there was a wee chance for Gouldy to go up the order and he performed really well. Every time we’ve called on the youngsters they’ve stuck their hands up, and hopefully that continues.”
While Clydesdale’s batters have got them safely over the line after two good innings with the ball, it has been Prestwick’s bowlers who have made the difference in both their wins, Azeem Akbar taking six wickets and new signing Majid Haq eight, at a miserly average of 2.13.
“On paper their bowling is probably their main strength, and down there that strength is maximised,” said Paddy. “But we’re looking forward to it – similar to the Uddingston game, it’s a good test for us against a team we’ll be challenging for the title, so if we can dent their hopes this weekend that would be good.
“But we’re concentrating on ourselves, making sure that we’re firing on all cylinders,” he added. “We know that if we play at our best we can beat most teams, and hopefully that’ll be the case on Saturday.”
While one of the two will be losing its 100 percent record – the Scottish summer permitting, of course – Ferguslie has the chance to extend theirs at Meikleriggs, where a clinical performance led by Adil Ghaffar (4 for 28) and Taimoor Ahmed (3 for 16) brushed aside the challenge of Greenock last Saturday. Stirling County visit Paisley fresh from a nine-wicket win over Langside, Western Warrior Brandon McMullen underlining his all-round credentials ahead of this Sunday’s clash with the Eastern Knights by way of 3 for 17 and an innings of 54 not out.
Langside travel to Bothwell Castle Policies, where champions Uddingston will hope to put the trauma of last week’s collapse at Prestwick behind them. The other two winless sides in the Division, Poloc and Greenock, go head-to-head at Shawholm, while West of Scotland, who got off the mark with a 114-run win over the former last week, entertain Dumfries, for whom Chris Brockwell took 6 for 31 last time out. There is a long way still to go, of course, but the race for points at both ends of the table is already hotting up.
Western Premier Division – 19 June 2021
M8 Driving Ferguslie v SM Cricket Stirling County (at Meikleriggs)
McCrea FS West of Scotland v Your Move Dumfries (at Hamilton Crescent)
Poloc v Greenock (at Shawholm)
Prestwick v Clydesdale (at Henry Thow Oval)
Tunnock’s Uddingston v Langside (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.