After a full programme of matches in round two, round three of the Western Premier Division sees three of the early pace-setters take to the road. Champions Clydesdale, for whom Daniel Cairns took 6 for 19 as Calero Kelburne were dismissed for 78 last time out, make the short trip to fellow-winners Langside, while Prestwick will look to build on their impressive five-wicket victory at home to McCrea FS West of Scotland – led by Donovan Du Randt’s 6 for 29 and unbeaten 51 – at Whitehaugh.
The performance of the week, though, came at New Cambusdoon, where Ferguslie overcame Ayr by 89 runs. A partnership of 193 between skipper Riyaad Henry (122) and Taimoor Ahmad (87) formed the backbone of a victory confirmed by three-fers from Daoud and Haroon Tahir: last season’s runners-up travel to Dumfries full of confidence after kicking off their campaign with an excellent all-round showing.
“It was a very good team performance,” said Riyaad. “We were under a bit of pressure early doors but we showed the character we know we can show to get 289, a really good score, and then we bowled really well.
“The boys are doing really, really well together, which is important, and it sets us up quite nicely for the season. It wasn’t a [faultless] performance, but it was a good one.”
The dramatic end to last season’s title race, which saw Ferguslie beaten by a single wicket in the winner-takes-all decider against Clydesdale, is still fresh in the memory. So has the experience added extra impetus to the team’s bid to go one better this time around?
“Yeah, for sure,” said Riyaad. “We were gutted to have lost that last game: the way Clydesdale played they truly deserved to win it, but we felt that we did too and that was quite difficult to take. But immediately afterwards, conversations were starting in terms of, we’ll just have to be better next year. We need to make sure that we don’t leave it to that last game, we want to be firing on all cylinders from the start.
“Pre-season was really good. I wasn’t there for most of it because I was working, but the boys worked really hard with Taimoor and Haroon [taking] the lead. That’s one of the really good things about our club,” he added. “We’ve got a group of leaders, and everybody wants to improve and be part of a winning team. It’s a great culture to be around.”
Ferguslie’s win over Ayr provided ample demonstration of that winning mentality, as well as a touch of deja vu. At Prestwick last year, a 240-run stand between Riyaad and Taimoor turned around a similarly perilous situation, kick-starting an unbeaten run that was only ended on the season’s final day: Ferguslie will be hoping that the omen is a good one as they look to build that momentum again.
“That would certainly be nice!” laughed Riyaad. “But in the end it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, where you’re playing, what form you’re in: it’s about being able to do it on the day. The past doesn’t matter: it’s going to be about who works hardest, who wants it more, and that to me is the most important thing.
“But it would be lovely if history did repeat itself in that way,” he smiled. “I’d take it, any day.”
Next up for the Paisley team is a trip to Nunholm, where Riyaad is expecting another good contest.
“We love playing at Dumfries,” said Riyaad. “It’s a great place to play, they’re a good bunch of boys and they’ve got such good people around the club.
“They are a relatively young team, and they have [Jesse Smit] back this year. He’s a really good player: the year we won the league [in 2018] he scored a hundred against us in a game that was going down to the wire. So he’s someone that can change the game and they have guys around him as well, so it’ll be by no means a walk in the park.
“But then I don’t think any team in the league is,” he added. “Any team on its day can beat you. But hopefully we get a good pitch, nice weather, and a really good game.”
Elsewhere, McCrea FS West of Scotland take on SM Cricket Stirling County at Hamilton Crescent, while Tunnock’s Uddingston, who fell to defeat at New Williamfield last week, welcome Ayr.
Western Premier Division – 14 May 2022
Your Move Dumfries v M8 Driving Ferguslie (at Nunholm)
Calero Kelburne v Prestwick (at Whitehaugh)
Langside v Clydesdale (at Albert Park)
McCrea FS West of Scotland v SM Cricket Stirling County (at Hamilton Crescent)
Tunnock’s Uddingston v Ayr (at Bothwell Castle Policies)
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