Gary Heatly looks ahead to Sunday’s last four matches in the Challenge Cup…
The Cricket Scotland Challenge Cup has reached the last four stage with Linlithgow, Morton, Strathmore and Hillhead still in with a chance of winning the silverware in 2021.
The two semi-finals are due to take place on Sunday and for Linlithgow it has been a very good season so far.
Before Saturday’s league action, their first XI had won eight from nine in ESCA Division One to sit in second place in the table while their second XI had won eight from eight in ESCA Division Five to lead the way.
“Having two teams going well in their respective leagues has definitely helped create a feelgood factor around the club this season,” first XI captain Grant Raven said.
“What it has also done is create good competition for places when it has come to other competitions like the Challenge Cup as a large group of players have wanted to test themselves at that level.
“To be in the semi-finals is brilliant for us as a club as we enter a new era post-pandemic and everyone is looking forward to Sunday.
“We are at home to Morton and they are a good side who play in the league above us – the ESCA Championship – so we know we will have to play well to get through.
“The guys are up for it though and as someone who has come through the ranks here since being a junior it would mean a lot for us to get to a final.”
In the last eight, Linlithgow defeated Glasgow Accies by 107-runs as 235-9 played 128 all out.
At the same stage Morton, from Edinburgh, bowled Bon Accord out for 54 and went on to win by six wickets. They were mid-table in the ESCA Championship before the weekend.
Meanwhile, Hillhead had won four and lost two before the weekend in the WDCU Second Division and the Glasgow side are on the road to play SPCU N-E Championship outfit Strathmore in the Challenge Cup on Sunday.
“We know that Strathmore will be a decent side on their own patch for sure, but they have a very nice ground and it is a semi-final, so I have told the guys to go out and enjoy the experience and do their best,” Hillhead first XI captain Ali Fergus said.
“Since the pandemic stopped lots of things, including cricket, in its tracks last year we have seen people really keen to play at the club this summer as things have started to ramp up again and that has been brilliant to see.
“We like playing in the local competitions that we play in, but also being able to play in the Challenge Cup against some good sides from other regions is an honour for us too – we will certainly be giving it our best shot on Sunday.”
Hillhead also have a second XI who play in WDCU Division Three and they had won three and lost two prior to the weekend.
LOC Hire Stenhousemuir were the side that Hillhead beat in the last eight of the Challenge Cup as 128-8 played 106 all out while Strathmore, who before the weekend were third in the SPCU N-E Championship, saw off Kinross-shire at that stage.
The Challenge Cup final is due to take place at Drumpellier on Sunday, August 8.
Linlithgow are in the main photo with Hillhead also pictured
The Cricket Scotland Podcast includes a round-up of the men’s and women’s action from across the country every Tuesday, with player interviews. Follow @ScotlandPod on Twitter for all the latest information.