CHAMPIONS Watsonians suffered a shock opening-day defeat as Arbroath emerged with a three-wicket win from a low-scoring encounter at Myreside.
The Edinburgh side, sent in to bat, struggled to come to terms with the nagging accuracy of the visiting bowlers.
All eyes were on Arbroath’s new recruit Alvin Pollard, the cousin of big-hitting West Indies all-rounder Kieron. Pollard certainly played his part with three important wickets including that of the former Scotland captain Craig Wright, the one man who looked capable of carrying the hosts to a challenging total. However, the new man was upstaged by the evergreen Benny McGill who claimed a four-wicket haul while conceding just 19 runs. Saltires bowler Calvin Burnett also got in on the act with two scalps as Watsonians were dismissed for just 106.
If Arbroath thought their task was going to be easy they were quickly made to think again as Paddy Sadler, a possible Saltires debutant today, and Dewald Nel, who will make his return to YB40 action against Essex, bowled their 13 overs each while sharing six wickets.
The jitters in the visiting ranks were eased by overseas amateur Hamish Bartlett who top-scored with 37 while Fraser Burnett, Calvin’s brother, contributed an important 21. McGill completed an excellent all-round performance with a calming unbeaten 14 as Arbroath reached their target with three wickets and plenty of overs to spare.
Carlton emphasised their title credentials with an emphatic victory over top-flight newcomers SMRH. In a match which marked the return to Grange Loan of Carlton legend Cedric English – now the SMRH player-coach – the home side proved far too strong for their visitors.
Despite an early injury which meant he needed a runner, English was his side’s top scorer with a defiant 32 including just two boundaries. However, he was one of rising spin star Chayank Gosain’s four victims and his departure meant SMRH had to be content with 159-7 – a creditable effort but not one which was likely to trouble Carlton’s star-studded line-up. So it proved as Preston Mommsen warmed up for today’s Saltires clash with Essex by stroking a match-winning 66no from just 68 deliveries, allowing Carlton to win with more than 50 overs to spare.
Like Arbroath, Aberdeenshire proved that capital sides won’t have it all their own way with a thrilling win at Grange. Chasing 143 in a match reduced to 30 overs, the Dons were in trouble on 40-3 before Sri Lankan Harsha Cooray (70no) and player-coach Neil MacRae (34no) led the victory charge.
Relegated Forfarshire wasted no time in signalling their intent to make an instant return to the stop flight as they routed West Lothian at Broughty Ferry. Despite the early season conditions, Shire rattled up a daunting 341 for six off their rain-affected innings of 46 overs.
Wicketkeeper Craig Wallace fired a timely message at the Saltires selectors with a punishing knock of 144.
He was ably supported by Matty Parker (82) in a first-wicket stand of 183 and Aman Bailwal, who smashed a quickfire 52. Bailwal then delivered a further confidence blow to West Lothian by claiming a scalp with the first ball of the reply. Even worse was to come as they slid to 23 for four and they ended on 154 all out.
Glenrothes produced a great fightback to snuff out the challenge of Penicuik at Kirkhill. Going into the final two overs, the home side had five wickets in hand and needed 15 for victory. However, tight bowling and a couple of run-outs tilted the balance in favour of the Fifers.
By contrast, Dundee HSFP found the going tough on their return to the big-time as they crashed at the hands of Falkland at Scroggie Park.
High could only make 99 for seven in their 50 overs and the target proved no problem for the hosts.
Stoneywood-Dyce beat Heriot’s by six wickets at Goldenacre after Heriot’s reached 175 all out and Stoneywood-Dyce made 179 for the loss of four wickets.
The Western Premier Division suffered a complete washout.