The midway point of the competitive season may have come and gone – but it is only now that Arbroath will unveil their real selves, according to skipper Marc Petrie.
Petrie’s side have endured a stuttering two months because of the unavailability of several front-line players.
However, today – for he first time in the current campaign – they will be at full strength for the tussle with Aberdeenshire at Lochlands.
The captain said: “It has been great to have a full squad from which to select.
“I am particularly excited about having Fraser Burnett back in action.
“He is one of the best batsman in the league and I believe he can rediscover his best form and help us in our remaining matches.”
Arbroath were defeated by Shire at the start of the term, but Petrie insisted: “Revenge is not the motivation.
“The focus is on making sure we build on recent momentum and become more consistent.
“I do feel we’re getting very close to producing the complete performance.
“This is always an entertaining fixture, there will be a good crowd and the weather forecast is good.”
Third-place Forfarshire will be without skipper Umair Mohammed, so Greg Cameron takes the reins for the trip to the capital to take on title pacesetters Grange.
Chief chasers Heriot’s will be confident of maintaining their challenge by taking the scalp of Stew-Mel at Goldenacre.
Watsonians are boosted by the return of Scotland star George Munsey for the south Edinburgh derby with Carlton at Myreside.
And RHC Lions will head for Fife, determined not to let struggling Glenrothes break their duck.
Uddingston will today become the latest team to attempt to derail Ferguslie’s apparently relentless charge to Western Premier glory.
The Lanarkshire club welcome the runaway leaders to Bothwell Castle Policies on the back of a weekend which summed-up their season to date, a thrilling league win against Ayr last Saturday being followed by a rather limp Scottish Cup defeat at Arbroath twenty-four hours later.
Skipper Bryan Clarke, who misses today’s encounter due to a family commitment, admitted: “We’ve really blown hot and cold so far this season but we still have a lot to play for.
“For us at the moment it’s about getting back in the groove and making sure our basics are good and we can build momentum for the remainder of the season.
“In terms of the league it’s Ferguslie’s to lose but you don’t win leagues at this stage in the season and, having been there, it gets harder the closer it gets and there will always be some bumps on the way.”
Avoiding these bumps is the task facing a Ferguslie side who negotiated a dangerous hurdle last weekend by winning at second top Clydesdale.
Ferguslie batsman Michael English, the league’s top scorer with 486 at an average of 69, is aiming for a third consecutive century.
Elsewhere, in-form Poloc are going for a fifth win on the trot when they head down the coast to face champions Prestwick.
The Ayrshire team’s title defence is in danger of fizzling out after they slumped to a fourth defeat of the campaign to slip into the bottom half of the table while their visitors are heading in the opposite direction, having gone third top.
Poloc, though, are without two of their leading bowlers in Ihtesham Ul Haq and Ahmed-Raza Hanif and will take nothing for granted against a more experienced Prestwick team.
The battle to beat the drop is the priority for Greenock and Ayr when they clash at Glenpark, the former having fallen to the bottom of the table following last week’s defeat at Dumfries.
Ayr, though, are just two places higher and like their hosts have won only twice this season.
One of these victories came against today’s opponents and a repeat of that nine-wicket success would do much to ease Ayr’s relegation worries.
Chris Hempsey is struggling through injury for Greenock while Ayr could be boosted by the appearance of opening batsman Neil Smith.
Dumfries, buoyed by their first win of the campaign, head to Hamilton Crescent to face a West of Scotland side who have lost their last two while Clydesdale aim bounce back from last week’s reverse when Stirling visit Titwood.