Champions Carlton fall to Glenrothes in league opener

James Tapper bowling for Grange against Heriots. Hosts Grange won the match by five wickets. Photograph: Greg Macvean
James Tapper bowling for Grange against Heriots. Hosts Grange won the match by five wickets. Photograph: Greg Macvean
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Eastern Premier champions Carlton were on the receiving end of a shock on the opening day of their title defence as Glenrothes ran out winners at Gilvenbank.

Having established themselves in the top flight last season, the Fifers have shown real ambition by recruiting well during the close-season and the new arrivals, together with seasoned performers, proved sufficiently potent against the champions who had a decidedly youthful look about them.

Electing to bat first, Glenrothes made the most of their decision as openers Fred Culley and Aidan Justus claimed the initiative with a brilliant stand of 167. Culley was eventually out for 91 while Justus fell for 46 shortly after.

Their departures saw the hosts slump to 249-9 but it proved enough as Carlton’s inexperienced batting line-up fell short.

Aberdeenshire provided the day’s standout run-chase against Forfarshire at Forthill. The home side looked unassailable after posting 340 with youngster Callum Garden the most impressive home batsman hitting 90 while fellow opener Matty Parker made 87.

However, Chris Venske’s hard-hitting 99 set the tone for the Dons reply before a superb 109no from South African professional Lesiba Ngoepe saw the Mannofield men home with five wickets to spare.

Mark Watt’s superb 108 in a Heriot’s total of 247-8 against Grange at Portgower Place wasn’t enough as the hosts eased to victory, Neil McCallum top-scoring with 80.

Watsonians were too strong for promoted SMRH, winning by 121 runs at Inverleith, while Arbroath had a four-wicket success against Falkland at Lochlands.

Meanwhile, Richie Berrington stroked a magnificent unbeaten century as Clydesdale launched the defence of their Western Premier title with victory over East Kilbride.

Dale’s ability to win the league for a third consecutive year has been questioned following the departure of several key performers including skipper Majid Haq. But yesterday’s dominant display at Titwood may silence some of the sceptics.

East Kilbride’s attack had already been blunted by the time Berrington walked to the middle with the total on 131-2, Mo Awais in full flow on his way to 84 from only 64 deliveries.

That effort, though, was to be spectacularly eclipsed as Berrington eased effortlessly to a half-century before moving through the gears to reach three figures from 84 balls.

He went on to finish unbeaten on 139, having faced jut 98 balls, stroking 20 boundaries and three maximums as Dale powered their way to an imposing 339-6.

In reply East Kilbride were never in the hunt, losing wickets at regular intervals as Dale’s new-look youthful attack settled to their task.

Aliyan Qureshi marked his debut with two early wickets while Berrington removed the dangerous Moneeb Iqbal before Con de Lange’s three quickfire strikes had the visitors reeling on 88-7.

They were eventually all out for 140, De Lange ending with four wickets and Qureshi three.

Elsewhere, Poloc showed why they are strongly fancied to challenge during their first season in the top flight by beating Ferguslie at Shawholm.

Owais Shah’s 65 helped the newcomers post a challenging 
235-8 before Ferguslie appeared to be cruising at 101-1.

However, the home bowlers stuck to their task to dismiss the Paisley side for 203, Michael English top-scoring with 47.

There was no joy for fellow new boys Greenock who went down by 61 runs to Uddingston in a rain-affected tussle at Glenpark.