IT may not quite rank with Celtic’s treble-treble but the Eastern Knights have their sights set on a creditable double-double as they go into Friday’s Tilney T20 Blitz opener against Caledonian Highlanders at Forthill, Dundee.
With the Pro50 Cup already successfully defended, Stevie Gilmour’s star-studded side are now focused on retaining their title in the shorter form.
Typically, though, the coach is taking nothing for granted and expects his squad to be stretched to the limit in perhaps the most demanding regional contest yet.
Gilmour said: “The double-double would be great but we are prepared for our toughest challenge yet since I started the job.”
Scotland’s George Munsey will take part in the opening fixture prior to flying to Canada for the GT20 where he will represent the Brampton Wolves.
That high-profile franchise event will also impact on the Highlanders and especially the Western Warriors but the Knights also have other availability issues with skipper Preston Mommsen unable to travel to Forthill while Mark Watt and Tom Sole are likely to be regular absentees.
Dylan Budge will captain in Mommsen’s absence while the Knights hand a first start to Grange youngster Tom Mackintosh.
Gilmour added: “Dylan has been in great form and will be a good replacement for Preston as captain. It’s exciting to give young Tom his first team debut and it’s great to have George for the first game.”
While the Knights were worthy winners of the Pro50 Cup, that campaign ended with a heavy defeat to the Warriors and the Highlanders will attempt to exploit any lingering dent to the confidence of their rivals while making home advantage count.
The Broughty Ferry-based side may have propped up last season’s table but they boasted the two leading wicket-takers in Safyaan Sharif and Chris Greaves while Kyle Coetzer, Michael Leask and Craig Wallace are as explosive as any T20 batsmen on their day.
Unlike Munsey, Coetzer and Sharif are unavailable for the opening encounter but the Highlanders have acquired the services of free-scoring Arbroath professional Wihan Lubbe and skipper Leask remains confident about his team’s prospects.
He said: “It’s going to be a great tournament and we hope to be making a massive push for the title this year.
“Obviously missing Kyle and Saff is a blow but Wihan is a great addition and we have a few more new faces which will boost the team.”
While the strength in depth of both the Highlanders and Knights will be tested, the same is even more the case for the Warriors who will be without Canada-bound Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross and Calum MacLeod when they enter the fray against the Highlanders at Titwood next week.
Caledonian Highlanders Squad
Michael Leask (c), Ryan Brown, Scott Cameron, Brock Ditchmen, Callum Garden, Chris Greaves, Jack Hogarth, Rory Johnston, Jamie King, Wihan Lubbe, Adrian Neill, George Scott, Craig Wallace
Eastern Knights Squad
Dylan Budge (c), Mike Carson, Jamie Cairns, Corne Dry, Ali Evans (vc), Tom Foulds, Gordon Goudie, Oli Hairs, Tom Mackintosh (wk), Fin McCreath, George Munsey, Elliot Ruthven, Michael Shean