CALVIN Burnett insisted Arbroath will continue to aim to earn success through their sheer enjoyment of cricket as they launched the defence of their Eastern Premiership crown on a high note.
The Lochlands men staved off the challenge of Grange on home-turf – thanks in no small part to a fine bowling performance by Burnett himself.
But the Scotland star also took time out to criticise the new regulations governing wide deliveries, branding them “a bit of a shambles.”
The “profile wides” guidelines allow umpires to give leeway to bowlers when batsmen move from their normal stance immediately before attempting a stroke to a wayward ball.
Burnett said: “On the evidence of what happened on Saturday, the rule did not work because each umpire interpreted it differently.
“It was a bit of a shambles and, if you get a variety of opinions, you are bound to get far too much inconsistency. The change is designed to give the bowler a cushion when the batter is shuffling across the stumps, but against Grange it meant that many deliveries drifting down the leg-side were not called wide, as they would have been previously. I am not blaming the umpires, but there has obviously been a lack of communication somewhere along the line.”
Arbroath’s total of 168 had put them in a vulnerable position, but seamer Burnett’s cheap four-wicket haul halted the Grange pursuit in its tracks and they fell 15 short of the target.
Earlier, his big brother Fraser had anchored the hosts’ innings with a watchful 36, well supported by Hamish Bartlett (32).
Calvin added: “We would have been more comfortable if we had reached 190 or so, however it was a tough deck to bat on, which made 168 competitive.
“It was very tense at the end, so I suppose it was a typical Arbroath-style win. Our intention is simply to keep enjoying our cricket and, if we are doing that, then the results will come.”
Other notable opening-day bowling displays included a five-scalp package for Forfarshire’s Aman Bailwal against Heriot’s at Goldenacre.
But his effort proved not enough to prevent the home brigade becoming the only Edinburgh side to come out on top.
The Broughty Ferry boys held the whip hand when they sent Heriot’s hurtling to 88 all out. But the vagaries of the surface were even more evident as the newly-promoted visitors slumped to 18 for five, and they capitulated for 60.
Heriot’s had new recruit from South Africa, Ulrich Jooste, to thank for their stunning revival. He marked his competitive debut by taking five for 16 and will clearly be a threat on any wicket this season.
It was a different story for the other elevated club, Falkland, for whom Conor Ryan hit a dogged half century to guide them to a five-wicket victory against SMRH at Scroggie Park.
The batting plaudits of the weekend went to Aberdeenshire’s Chris Venske, whose unbeaten 137 against Carlton not only underlined his talents, but also those of the Grange Loan ground staff for preparing such a track so early in the year. Venske was given stout support by fellow South African Hayes van den Berg (45) as Shire cruised to a daunting 264 for three. Carlton’s pursuit hit the buffers after half-centurions Kyle Macpherson and Gordon Drummond were run-out.
Michael Leask smashed 94 to inspire Stoneywood-Dyce to a well-deserved 48-run success at the expense of Watsonians.
Freuchie open new season with impressive victory over Penicuik
THIS season’s ESCA Championship is home to a number of teams with a point to prove after league reconstruction effectively robbed six clubs of their Cricket Scotland league status.
Five of them – Corstorphine, Freuchie, Glenrothes, Penicuik and West Lothian – will do battle in this division while Dundee HSFP have taken their place in the Strathmore & Perthshire Union.
Two went head-to-head at Kirkhill on the opening day of the season where Freuchie triumphed over Penicuik.
It did not look promising for the Fifers when, having been asked to bat in tricky conditions, they found themselves teetering on 9-2.
Skipper Jock Wallace and Andy Sutherland steadied the ship with a half-century stand but wickets continued to fall as the Penicuik attack continued to exploit the helpful conditions.
Sutherland, though, emerged as Freuchie’s star batsman, compiling a second substantial partnership – this time with No 11 batsman Venkata Yerra, the club’s young Indian recruit. Yerra dug in solidly while Sutherland top-scored with an unbeaten 65, which allowed Freuchie to post 229-9.
It proved more than enough, especially when Rizwan Akbar got the ball in his hand. The 27-year-old Pakistan pace bowler, who has more than 275 first-class wickets to his name, found conditions to his liking as he ripped through the Penicuik line-up to claim 5-25.
There was also a miserly spell from Asif Hussain who conceded just 15 runs from his ten overs, ensuring Freuchie tightened their grip before sealing a 98-run win.
Meanwhile, Corstorphine skipper Cammy Leeder played a captain’s knock as the Barnton side also made the start they wanted with victory over Edinburgh South at Inch Park.
Leeder stroked a composed unbeaten 79 to guide his side to 179-3 in a match reduced to 35 overs. It proved more than enough as, despite a half-century from South African Darryl Hendricks, the hosts stumbled to 130-9 at the close, three wickets each for Mike Yellowlees and Sulaiman Malik.
In the other fixture to survive the weather, Murrayfield DAFS fashioned a 43-run win against Grange’s second eleven at Raeburn Place.