The summer cricket season in 2020 was shorter than usual, but all regional age-grade sides made the most of the games that they were able to play and there are plenty of talented boys and girls coming through the ranks in Scotland.
Eastern Knights under-14 boy’s coach Neil Yelland said: “It was great to get out and get some cricket for the under-14s after starting work with a very promising group through the winter.
“Whilst we were disappointed to lose a couple of close games to the Western Warriors, the boys learnt a lot about game management and the things that make the difference in tight games.
“After a good intra-squad gameday – where a number of our under-14s featured and shone in the under-16 game – the Knights under-14s put in two really strong performances against the Caledonian Highlanders with great contributions from all involved.
“Heading into next year, I’m really excited about a couple of our younger players who broke through this year and, whilst I would expect next year’s squad to be a young one, I have no doubt they’ll be up to the task of regional cricket.”
The two matches Yelland mentioned against the Warriors were T20s played at Goldenacre in Edinburgh.
In the first game, batting first Ben Willmott (Clydesdale) provided some impetus to the Warriors innings with 27 off 26 balls.
Uzair Ahmad (Ferguslie) anchored the innings with a crucial 43 not out as the Warriors made 102/4.
In reply, the Knights batsmen found it hard as the Warriors bowlers were on top form, Qasim Khan (Ferguslie CC) excelling with 4/21 from his four overs as they won by 17 runs.
In the second game, chasing 93 to win the Warriors needed 30 off the last three overs. Ahmad was batting with very positive intent and his 31 not out off 30 balls was crucial and Rory Paterson (5 not out) also played a key part as they won with two balls to spare.
Two more T20s for the Warriors, who are coached by Tim Hart, came against the Highlanders at Titwood.
In game one the Warriors 123/4 was based around 49 from skipper Bahadar Eskahiel (Clydesdale) and 40 from Ahmad (Ferguslie) with the pair putting on 101 for the third wicket.
In the Highlanders reply, the Warriors bowled well with Shlok Thaker (Clydesdale) bowling a double wicket maiden and the fielding unit contributing three run outs to win by 69 runs.
In game two the hosts posted 116 all out, Willmott opened and anchored the innings with 46.
The Highlanders got off to a good start in reply and were 35/0 off six overs.
“However, Ewan McCartney (Helensburgh) then ended the game as a contest by bowling a triple wicket maiden and, in the end, the Highlanders 75 all out.
At under-16 boy’s level, the Warriors and the Knights won one T20 apiece in Paisley.
In game one at Meikleriggs the Knights batted first and put on a score of 105 all out.
Ruairdh McIntyre (Carlton) at the top of the order top scored with 22.
Owen Gould, the Warriors wicketkeeper, looked to be leading his team to a win with 40, but McIntyre finished with 3/12 and his club team mate Charlie Kentish took 3/15 as the Knights won by 11 runs.
That loss left the Warriors determined and they made amends in game two.
Skipper Alex Hodge (Watsonians) batted well for 29 for the Knights, but 4-14 from Shahan Raja saw the visitors bowled out for 87.
Gould (32 not out) and opening partner Aditya Mahapatra (35 not out) – as well as 21 extras – saw the Warriors home by 10 wickets.
The Highlanders won both of their under-16 T20 matches with the Warriors.
Notable performances came from Joseph Horne, Daniel Pearson, Josh Eddington and Logan Briggs.
The Highlanders under-18 girls played two T20 matches against the Eastern Knights at Livingston.
Chasing 94 to win in game one, Emma Halliwell of Falkland (36 not out) and captain Zoe Rennie of Arbroath (29) put together a 55 run partnership in a seven wicket win.
The Knights bowlers did well in game two and Huntly’s Nicola Grant (26 not out) and Elgin’s Chloe McLeod (15 not out) showed good character to retrieve the situation as the visitors finished on 91-3. The Knights batted well to win the game though.
Before those games in West Lothian, the Highlanders had warmed up with two intra-squad games.
They took place in Huntly and a highlight was 104 from Ailsa Lister (Stoneywood-Dyce) in game two.
After the matches with the Knights there was a second intra-club day at Mannofield in Aberdeenshire and highlights included Olivia McGhee (Forres) taking 3-11 in game one.
Highlanders coach Neil Nicol said: “It was great for the girls to get several matches under their belt, and it was heartening to see the enthusiasm and commitment of all involved relishing the return to cricket.”
The Warriors under-18 girls lost two T20 matches to the Knights, but coach Ramzan Mohammed stated: “From a wider perspective, the under-18s are primarily an under-15 squad which had been training hard and showing good signs of progress during the winter until lockdown brought the training programme to a standstill.
“The matches against the Knights highlighted a number of issues such as game awareness and these were worked on during an intra-squad match with some success at Dumfries.
“The squad is young with promising talent, and many have a number of years ahead of them to continue to develop their skills at the under-18 age group with the potential to go on and play senior regional cricket.”