Eastern and Western Preview – Week 7

Cricket Media's seventh week preview of the Eastern and Western divisions

Lizzie Sleet @CricketScotland
June 10, 2017 7 years

Grange star Harris Carnegie looked ahead to the table-top showdown against his old Arbroath chums – and insisted he will treat it “just like any other game.”

Carnegie quit Lochlands during the winter to link up with the Edinburgh outfit.

And this afternoon he returns to his former stomping ground with one aim in mind: to strike a major blow in the race for the title.

The young wicketkeeper said: “It is obviously a hugely important match and I imagine there will be a lot of passion from both sides.

“But along with the rest of my team, we are treating it just like any other game.

“With both outfits protecting an unbeaten record, there is sure to be a great deal of excitement.

“I am focussing on getting the job done and going clear at the top of the league.”

Arbroath welcome back skipper Marc Petrie from an injury lay-of, along with the influential Elton Willemse.

Vice captain Ross McLean declared: “We haven’t mentioned the championship – it is far too early for that.

“We are all concentrating on enjoying our cricket and the intention is to perform the way we know we can against a very strong Grange line-up.”

Another intriguing Tayside tussle will be at Forthill, where Forfarshire will be determined to step up their revival against champions Carlton.

The home brigade broke their duck last weekend – and player-coach Chris Greaves stated: “The monkey is off our back and we can move onwards and upwards.

“We have a very talented young team and it was always likely to take some time before we fired.”

Heriot’s head for struggling Falkland eager to consolidate their third place, while Watsonians host Glenrothes.

Aberdeenshire welcome SMRH, chastened by their rout at the hands of Grange.

THEY were the last team to win the title before two years of dominance by Clydesdale and today Ayr will attempt to prove they are ready for another tilt at glory by beating the champions.

Andi McElnea’s men have home advantage at Cambusdoon and are in high spirits following their derby success at Prestwick but Dale also won their local scrap against Poloc and are out to keep their three-in-a-row hopes alive.

McElnea, the man who led Ayr to that memorable success in 2014, said: “We see this as just another game in which we have to perform as this is as a league where anyone can beat anyone.

“The team is making progress but there is still room for improvement.”

McElnea has a new weapon in his armoury following the emergence of opening batsman and wicket-keeper Neil Smith as a potent bowler.

Smith has developed the knack of picking up crucial wickets while conceding few runs as he showed with 3-17 at Prestwick and McElnea added: “Neil’s bowling has given the team a lift.

“He just bowls a tight line and length and keeps it nice and simple.”

While Ayr have a settled side, Clydesdale have selection problems with Scotland all-rounder Richie Berrington ruled out and Con de Lange doubtful.

The Titwood side hand top team chances to youngsters Kallum Dhami and Hamid Mahmood, the latter son of former Scotland spinner Musaffer.

Spokesman Colin Mitchell said: “Ayr are a well organised unit and we expect another stiff test for our emerging squad.”

The league leadership has changed hands in each of the last four weeks but Ferguslie will attempt to change that by beating Dumfries at Meikleriggs.

That is no foregone conclusion given the capabilities of the visitors who have already beaten champions Clydesdale as well as producing a memorable run-chase to overhaul Greenock’s 250 seven days ago.

Anup Vejandla, who scored useful runs in the win over Kelburne, is unavailable so Lucas Frandale comes in while Greg Cameron returns in place of Fasih Sultan.

Tom McBride and Chris Bellwood will aim to maintain their free-scoring form for the visitors.

Poloc hope to recapture their form of the opening two weeks of the season when they entertain East Kilbride.

The Shawholm troops have subsequently lost three in a row to slip to third bottom while EK sit a place below after completing just three of their scheduled six fixtures.

Uddingston have the chance to step up their challenge when they entertain a Kelburne side who have yet to win.

However, home skipper Bryan Clarke is aware that the Paisley side may be in a false position at the foot of the table.

Greenock, bidding to bounce back from a Scottish Cup exit at the hands of League One Drumpellier, host Prestwick who are on the rebound from their defeat to Ayr.

Harry Briggs and Sailesh Prabhu are unavailable for the hosts who draft in Sehmat Pandher and Fraser Godsman.

Following a bold but ultimately fruitless run-chase against Ayr, Prestwick are determined to consolidate their place in the top three.

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