Domestic Preview – Week 14

Lizzie Sleet @CricketScotland
July 27, 2018 5 years

Greenock will today step-up their bid for top-flight survival when they entertain Clydesdale at Glenpark.

Neil Flack’s side have their tails-up following a morale-boosting win over Prestwick last Saturday but they face a Dale outfit who must win to retain any slim hope of catching runaway leaders Ferguslie.

A Greenock spokesman said: “Clydesdale will pose a huge challenge for us but we pushed them all the way in the first game at Titwood.

“Although we just lost that one it was one of our best performances of the season and we have moved forward since then.

“Clydesdale are second in the table and a formidable team but they are far from unbeatable and a win for us would be a major step towards playing Premier Division cricket again next season.”

Greenock are boosted by the return of Sailesh Prabhu, Jack Griffiths and Harry Briggs but Jon Hempsey is still missing.

The home side have identified their former team-mate, Scotland all-rounder Richie Berrington, as the biggest threat to their chances.

Berrington has been Dale’s standout performer this season with 442 runs and 17 wickets but the Titwood side will also rely on a number of emerging stars as they look to stay in touch at the top of the table.

Greenock’s win last week took them out of the relegation places, leaving Dumfries and Ayr staring down the barrel.

However, both have home advantage today and Dumfries will aim to make that count against an Uddingston team for whom inconsistency has cost them the chance to make a title challenge.

Despite falling into the bottom two, Ayr are in confident mood ahead of the visit of Stirling after last week’s astonishing win at West of Scotland where they fought back from a hopeless-looking position to prevail by 12 runs.

Ayr welcome back skipper Andi McElnea against a Stirling side who remain third top in what is proving to be a successful first season in the top flight.

Meanwhile Poloc are the latest side with a chance to stall Ferguslie’s charge to the title when they entertain the Paisley men at Shawholm.

Poloc, though, must re-group following three consecutive defeats including last week’s collapse at Uddingston when they contrived to slip from 132-2 to 168 all out – five short of their target.

The home side are without the injured Hasseeb Zaker while Ferguslie travel with a settled and confident squad.

Like Poloc, West of Scotland must put a horror batting collapse behind them when they welcome outgoing champions Prestwick to Hamilton Crescent.

CLUB captain Fraser Watts is hoping Carlton’s Masterton Trophy Final triumph can act as a springboard to a strong finish to their league campaign.

Watts’ side have already mounted a powerful rally in the wake of a shaky first half of the season.

And in the wake of Thursday’s success against RHC Lions, they go in to today’s clash with title pacesetters Grange in confident mood.

Former Scotland batsman Watts declared: “It has been a year of transition for the club and after a tough start we have found a rich vein of form.

“It is good to win some silverware. Hugo Southwell was brilliant again in midweek, but a lot of credit also needs to go to Michael Castle for the influence he has had on the boys since he arrived from Australia.

“He is a true professional and has made a big impact on the club and the players.

“Grange are an outstanding team who should really have had the league tied up by now.

“They are head and shoulders above the rest and it has been good to see them blooding some youngsters too.

“But we beat them a couple of weeks again – and aim to do the same this weekend.

Meanwhile, rival skippers Umair Mohammed and Marc Petrie couldn’t disguise their excitement at the prospect of today’s Tayside derby showdown.

Mohammed’s Forfarshire and Petrie’s Arbroath may have seen their respective sides’ title chances evaporate.

But they insisted the situation won’t dilute the magnitude of the Forthill tussle one iota.

The host captain declared: “As ever, both sets of players will be hugely looking forward to the occasion.

“Form goes out the window In these games and the pure determination to win is what really matters.

“We know Arbroath are a quality outfit with plenty of match winners so if we want to come out on top, we will need to be better than them in all three disciplines.

“Both clubs deserve a massive pat on the back for producing several exciting young local players.

“I don’t think there are many teams in Scotland who have as many home grown players coming through at this level.

“That’s testament to the youth structure system we both have in place.

“I have no doubt that there will be some future Scottish stars on show this weekend.”

Petrie added: “It is a massive match – it always is. The derby matches are certainly the ones I look forward to most every season.

“Although our chances of silverware are now over for this summer, we want to finish it as high up the table as we can.

“We know must make big improvements on recent weeks as our performances simply have not been good enough.

“I know we’re capable of better than what we’ve shown this season and that’s a challenge I’ve put to the guys going in to the last few games.”

Elsewhere, champions Heriot’s square up to Aberdeenshire at Mannofield and basement boys Glenrothes are at home to Watsonians.

RHC will bid to shrug off the Masterton disappointment by beating former stable-mates Stew-Mel on home turf.

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