After a weekend which highlighted the competitiveness of the Western Premier Division once again, week six of the season throws up several more fascinating ties. Prestwick, now out on their own at the top of the table after ending Clydesdale’s 10-match winning streak on Saturday, welcome Your Move Dumfries to the Henry Thow Oval, while McCrea FS West of Scotland, lying in third after their four-wicket win over M8 Driving Ferguslie, meet Tunnock’s Uddingston at Hamilton Crescent.
It promises to be a similarly intriguing encounter at Albert Park, where Langside take on Ayr. The two go into the game with only a single win each thus far, but Langside manager John McCrossan is hopeful that the side can do itself justice despite the availability issues it still faces.
“I think we’ve been a wee bit unlucky because our two opening bowlers have been away for the last two weeks – one for longer, in fact – so we’ve not had the bowling attack that we usually have,” he said. “We’ve been decimated a bit because a lot of our players haven’t been able to get back to Pakistan to see their families since Covid, so are trying to get over there now that they can.
“It is still a transition period for us [under new captain] Anwar Hafeez],” he went on. “We’ve got about four younger players in now: last season it was mainly older players apart from Asad Khan, but now we have about four, one of whom is a 16-year-old [Bahadar Esakhiel, signed from Clydesdale in March] who is in the Scotland age-group set-up as well.
“We are trying to get those younger players in, but we’re competing on the southside with Clydesdale, which makes it very, very hard. But we know that we need to [keep trying]: even some of the older players are saying that they would gladly lose their places to a youngster coming in. Those we have in are helping, they offer a great deal in the field, which is something we were struggling with, and we encourage them with bowling and batting as well, although Bahadar isn’t bowling at the moment because of injury.”
A fine win over Dumfries in week two was followed by successive losses to Clydesdale and Prestwick, a run extended by a Manas Sahare-inspired Stirling County in round five. John, however, is optimistic that Langside can extend its stay in the top flight.
“For me bowling-wise, our three key men are Mo Afzal, Farhan Shah and Zeeshan Khan,” he said. “Zeeshan’s figures speak for themselves lately: even against Stirling last week, he bowled ten overs for 21, and they scored 267!
“But Ayr will be another hard game because they have some really good players, the likes of Michael English, Neil Flack and a few others. It’s hard when you come up from the First Division: we knew that as well when we came up. We know [that the league] is going to be a long, hard road for us again, but we hope we can stay up. That’s the most important thing for us.”
While Ayr welcome back Hamza Tahir in place of Narahari Bhandari, both M8 Driving Ferguslie and Calero Kelburne will be unchanged for the Paisley derby at Meikleriggs as the latter look to repeat their win at the same venue in the McCulloch Cup last Wednesday: SM Cricket Stirling County also name the same eleven for the visit of Clydesdale, for whom Owen Gould and Zain Ashraf come in for Zeeshan Bashir and James Galling. Tunnock’s Uddingston make two changes, with Gavin Bradley and Zeeshan Azhar coming in for Fergus Clarke and Ziggy Ahmed: Prestwick, meanwhile, welcome back Inderjit Singh in place of Matt Morgan.
Western Premier Division – 4 June 2022
SM Cricket Stirling County v Clydesdale (at New Williamfield)
M8 Driving Ferguslie v Calero Kelburne (at Meikleriggs)
Langside v Ayr (at Albert Park)
McCrea FS West of Scotland v Tunnock’s Uddingston (at Hamilton Crescent)
Prestwick v Your Move Dumfries (at Henry Thow Oval)
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