After a brilliant week two of action in the Eastern Premier League, week three has thrown up some intriguing matches and it should make for a fascinating Saturday.
Matthew Cross’ 162 that propelled Heriot’s to a big win over Gen!us Grange last weekend rightly grabbed many headlines, but Stoneywood Dyce’s Lennard Bester was also in superb form with the bat.
Coming in at 52-4 as his side batted first at People’s Park against Falkland, Bester had to assess the conditions and fire some impetus into the innings – and he certainly did that.
The 35-year-old made 127 off just 93 balls – including 12 fours and six sixes – before he had to retire with a muscular issue around his ribs.
His century propelled Stoneywood Dyce to a big win in the end and they head to Arbroath this time around in fine fettle.
Bester should shake off his injury to play and the man who grew up playing his cricket in South Africa said: “It was important to get a good win last weekend and for me personally to get some runs. I think the team is shaping up nicely this year.
“We have a good balance of experience and younger players coming through while the two overseas amateurs Garreth Wolmarans and Du-Preez Stander are good players.
“There are also players in the seconds pushing for first team places and that depth will be important as the season moves along because we know there will be weeks when certain people are not available and our away form was not good enough last year.
“We hope to rectify that this time around although we know we will have to play well at Arbroath because they have a proud home record.”
So, how did Bester end up living in Scotland and playing for Stoneywood?
“My brother Hein, who lives in Ellon now, was an overseas amateur for Stoneywood around 20 years ago now while when I moved to the UK in 2015 I didn’t play at first,” Bester, who played in South Africa for Alberton and then Pirates in and around Johannesburg, explains.
“However, I then played some games for Mannofield and got the cricket bug before joining Stoneywood and it is a great club to be a part of.
“I want to try and make myself available for as many games as possible this season and really contribute as the team looks to do better than last year.
“Now I feel at home in Scotland and the cricket club is a big part of that.”
For Stoneywood, Nikhil Ninan is unavailable this week and Leighton Collins replaces him.
Arbroath have Matthew Hurst, Matthew Parker and Pranav Saravanan returning to the team in place of John Salmond, Matthew Salmond and Luke Hayes.
Carlton had a good win at home to Arbroath last time out and now they are ready to make the trip to Portgower Place for an Edinburgh derby with Grange.
Experience always counts in these kinds of matches and while Carlton professional Neville Madziva is not experienced in Scottish conditions just yet the 30-year-old all-rounder has certainly played at a very good level.
Madziva played 12 ODIs and 15 T20Is for Zimbabwe between 2014 and 2019 and previously came over to the UK for a short spell to play because then Yorkshire head coach Jason Gillespie wanted to find him a club and work with him.
That stint was cut short, but now he is in Scotland for a full summer and said: “I have really enjoyed my time here so far and everyone at the club has made me feel very welcome, I am still just getting used to the cold weather!
“I have always wanted to try and play properly in the UK if I could and I am grateful to Carlton for giving me the opportunity, I will be playing for the first team and helping coach the junior section as well.
“We had a good team performance last weekend, but we know we will have to be better to beat Grange and I hear the clubs have had some good games over the years.
“I am looking forward to playing at the ground where Scotland play a lot of their games and I hope to help the team do well in the next few months.”
Like Madziva, Rory McCann and Hugo Southwell are experienced and they come into the Carlton XI this week.
Grange have Gordon Goudie, Charlie Peet and Haris Ali coming in for Dylan Budge, Freddie Huddleston and Chris Sole.
Stewart’s Melville host RH Corstorphine at Inverleith and skipper Steven Parker returns for the home side while South African professional Shaylen Pillay arrived in Scotland this week and is available.
Brandon James, their overseas amateur, and Elliot Mason, who has recently performed well for the second XI, are brought into the RHC side for this one.
Falkland meet Forfarshire at Scroggie Park and, with Graeme Watson, Steven Meikle and Ryan Jennings unavailable, the home side bring in Devon May, Cammy Paton and Andrew Gibson.
Forfarshire are unchanged from the team that defeated Stewart’s Melville.
Watsonians and Heriot’s both won in week two and they will meet at Myreside in an Edinburgh derby.
After scoring 122 for the second XI last time out, Douglas Voas is added to the ‘Sonians line-up while Josh Stinson returns,
Heriot’s have just one change, Hayes van der Berg coming in for Elliot Ruthven.
Saturday, May 14 fixtures:
Stewart’s Melville v RH Corstorphine (Inverleith)
Falkland v Forfarshire (Scroggie Park)
Arbroath v Stoneywood Dyce (Lochlands)
Gen!us Grange v Carlton (Portgower Place)
Watsonians v Heriot’s (Myreside)
Stoneywood Dyce’s Lennard Bester is pictured
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