Promoted side Falkland are delighted to be in the Eastern Premier League this season and the club’s players are looking forward to taking on the nine best other first XIs in the region over the coming months.
The Fife outfit welcome Carlton, who finished second in the top flight last year, to Scroggie Park this Saturday to open up with and home skipper Adam Ferguson and his charges are buzzing to be getting going after a long winter.
“The guys are feeling really good and we are excited to be in the Premier League and mixing it with the best teams,” Ferguson said.
“The club’s groundstaff and volunteers have worked very hard to get Scroggie Park looking at its best for the return of top flight cricket and we know that Carlton will be coming here on Saturday looking to get off to a flyer.
“They played in the European T10 competition in Spain recently so have plenty of cricket under their belts and they have strong players within the team, but we want to put in a strong showing to start the campaign and then build from there.
“Whenever you go up a level home games are always important”.
Sri Lankan Harsha Cooray is due to be back with Falkland this season, but may not have arrived in time for this weekend while many onlookers are interested to see how Falkland’s crop of talented young players, led by Scotland under-19 World Cup player Lyle Robertson, get on at this level.
As mentioned, Carlton were second last year and wicketkeeper/batter Tom Simpson will be leading the Grange Loan men this time around, taking over the captaincy from Ali Evans.
The squad has been boosted by the arrival of Zimbabwean seam bowling all-rounder Neville Madziva this week and Simpson said: “With an encouraging mix of youth and experience throughout our squad we have more than enough quality to compete for trophies across every format and every competition this season.
“The opportunity guys had in Spain recently to experience a whole new style of cricket has helped act as a fantastic pre-season, further strengthening the skills and mentality of the squad and should put us in good stead for the start of the season.”
The team to beat will still be Heriot’s and new skipper Lloyd Brown is “honoured” to lead the Goldenacre men into the campaign.
Under the captaincy of Scotland spinner Mark Watt, Heriot’s secured the top flight title and the Scottish Cup double in 2021, nailing down their position as the best 50-over-a-side club side in the country.
With Watt having a lot of Scotland commitments and a contract down south at Derbyshire for part of the summer, he will still be able to play for Heriot’s when he can, but has passed on the leadership role to South African Brown.
Brown only moved to Edinburgh to work early last year with his fiancée, but he settled in at his new cricket club straight away.
“I had a great time at Heriot’s last year, the guys welcomed me in straight away and I was proud to play my part for the first XI in a successful summer,” Brown said.
“Now I am really honoured to have been asked to captain the team going into 2022 action and the challenge for us as a playing group is to keep our standards high like in 2021.
“Other clubs will be out to beat us, but we have a good balance in the squad and we are looking forward to getting things going.”
Heriot’s, with a fairly settled squad, begin the season on Saturday away at Arbroath.
The Lochlands outfit finished sixth in 2021 and Marc Petrie has passed the captaincy to Bryce Carnegie.
Craig Ramsay has moved down to England for work and will not be able to play this season while Matthew Parker will miss the first few games due to work commitments.
“I’m excited to lead the club that I have been a part of for the last 20 years,” Carnegie said.
“It will be tough season against some good sides, but I am confident in the players that we have.
“Matthew Hurst will be available more this season so hopefully he can return to his previous form opening the bowling.
“We are awaiting arrival of our overseas amateur Neo Matsoso, a South African bowler, who will hopefully join up with us for our second game while Wihan Lubbe will be our pro this season and will arrive after his stint with the South African A side in Zimbabwe.”
Gen!us Grange were third last term and Tom Foulds is still their skipper as they start off at home to RH Corstorphine.
“We cannot wait to get stuck into the season,” Foulds said ahead of the Portgower Place opener.
“It has been a good pre-season and we know that Corstorphine have strengthened, so we are expecting a tough first match this weekend.
“We are delighted that Chris Greaves, the Scotland player, and Robbie McGlasham, who moved to Edinburgh from the north east of England during the pandemic, have joined the squad and they are a couple of experienced players who will work well with our exciting youngsters as we look to build on last year.”
Scotland under-19 World Cup player Jamie Cairns is away to play in the north east of England before he starts university.
RHC have James Dickinson as captain now, taking over from Caleb Whitefoord who will still be a key part of their side.
The Barton outfit were seventh last term and have added Scotland A all-rounder Liam Naylor to their ranks as well as Scotland under-19 cap Sean Fischer-Keogh from Greenock.
Brandon James returns from Zimbabwe as their overseas amateur for this season and Dickinson said: “We are really looking forward to this first game as we have been working hard with our coach Craig Yelverton and got some good friendlies under our belts too.
“Craig has been able to work closely with players from all XIs in the club which has been beneficial while being able to bring in the likes of Liam and Sean has really created competition for places and raised standards around the first XI and that is what we want.”
Forfarshire were fourth last time out and they are once again led by Scott Cameron.
They start 2022 away to Stoneywood-Dyce in Aberdeen and Cameron said: “I’m looking forward to the season, we have had good preparation and can’t wait to start playing games again.
“We still have a young squad, but as a group we have a lot of experience now so we will see what the season brings.”
Graeme Black and his partner recently had a baby boy so he will not feature, but Bryce Alchin is back after a year in South Africa.
Stoneywood-Dyce had some bright moments last year, but struggled on the road and in the end finished second bottom above Meigle who were relegated.
Jamie King again captains the People’s Park side and they have been boosted by the arrival of South African overseas amateur duo Garreth Wolmarans and Du Preez Stander as well as local player Nathan Elliott from Aberdeenshire.
“We know we had a tough year last year, but there’s definitely a feel-good atmosphere around the club,” King said.
“Key players like Jan Stander and Lennard Bester have committed to being available for almost the whole season and we have had a very solid pre-season, beating a strong Clydesdale team comfortably away from home.
“We want to try and compete at the right end of the table this year.”
Watsonians were fifth in 2021 and they start with a home match against Stewart’s Melville who came eighth last time out.
Mike Carson, who has previously captained ‘Sonians, has taken over that role again from Pete Maksimczyk.
Greg Brown and Rob Thirwell have both moved away from Edinburgh, but all-rounder Akarshan Arora has arrived in the capital to work after time in Australia and Andrew Brock has joined the club from Grange.
Douglas Voas, a wicketkeeper/batter, has also moved from Linlithgow and Carson said: “We have had a good winter in terms of the quality of training we have managed to put in and the friendlies have been good workouts, so we are going into the season feeling fairly confident.
“A number of guys put their hands up with bat and ball in the warm-up games, so we are looking forward to getting going now.”
Steven Parker is once again at the helm for Stew Mel and their stocks have been bolstered by the return of South African professional Shaylen Pillay who was very good in his last stint at the club.
Neel Tandel, an overseas amateur from South Africa, and Connor Shorten and Soyeb Khanusiya will also be looking to contribute for the first XI while Callum Steel has left.
“We are looking forward to building on our eighth place finish from last season having added more depth to the squad,” Parker said.
“We’re confident of an improved league position by the end of this campaign and we are excited by the crop of young players coming through the club’s youth system such as Jo Newman who will no doubt have an increased influence in the first XI going forward.”
Saturday, April 30’s fixtures:
Stoneywood Dyce v Forfarshire (noon)
Falkland v Carlton (noon)
Arbroath v Heriot’s (noon)
Gen!us Grange v RH Corstorphine (noon)
Watsonians v Stewart’s Melville (1pm)
Thanks to Robbie Nellies for the Falkland photo
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