Never-say-die Prestwick take Cricket Scotland’s Grand Fin

Prestwicks Fraser McDonald, Tom Fleet (back to camera), Shazad Rafiq and Ross Paterson celebrate the wicket of Heriots Mark Watt.  Photograph: Donald MacLeod
Prestwicks Fraser McDonald, Tom Fleet (back to camera), Shazad Rafiq and Ross Paterson celebrate the wicket of Heriots Mark Watt. Photograph: Donald MacLeod
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Prestwick last night completed a remarkable comeback to become the first team from the west to win Cricket Scotland’s Grand Final.

Having dismissed Prestwick for just 97 at Meikleriggs, it looked as if Eastern Premier Champions Heriot’s would become the sixth team in a row from the east to lift Scottish cricket’s most prestigious club prize.

However, the Ayrshire side’s never-say-die attitude again revealed itself as they clawed their way back to clinch an astonishing five-run win.

Coach Andy Tennant said: “It’s a brilliant achievement by the lads. They deserve the success they’ve had this season for the way they have worked and consistently found a way to win. Today was a classic example of that.”

Instead of accepting what looked like an inevitable defeat, the Prestwick bowlers applied pressure from the outset. However, Hayes van der Berg was able to make his way to a composed 21 before being trapped lbw by Mitchell Rao.

A battle of attrition ensued with the Ayrshire side taking wickets at regular intervals while the rival batsmen strived to produce the one meaningful partnership that would have swung the match their way.

Sachin Chaudhary, Rao’s spin twin, became the bowling hero with four key wickets at a cost of just 20 runs as the momentum switched decisively in favour of the Ayrshiremen.

A dogged 21 from skipper Keith Morton kept the capital troops in contention but when he was bowled by Fraser Macdonald, Prestwick seized their chance.

Earlier, Prestwick, who won the Western Premier for the first time last week playing an attacking brand of cricket, had high hopes they could create another first. And it was little surprise when, having won the toss, skipper Shahzad Rafiq opted to bat first in the hope of posting a large total to put the Goldenacre troops under pressure.

However, the tactic appeared to backfire spectacularly as Rafiq himself was dismissed for a duck, trapped in front by Adrian Neill.

Two further wickets fell with the score stuck on 13, with Fazal Jawad the next to go off the bowling of Van der Berg. Neill then picked up his second wicket, Macdonald, like his captain, departing without scoring as he offered a catch to Van der Berg.

Worse still followed when Chaudhary, the Ayrshire side’s leading run scorer, also went cheaply. Scotland spinner Mark Watt was the man to strike, trapping Chaudhary in front with his first delivery of the match.

At 26-4, Prestwick were in dire danger of being completely humiliated, though a battling partnership between Ross Paterson and Tom Fleet offered renewed hope. The pair added 43 runs without ever threatening to take the game away from their rivals and progress was slow as they sensibly attempted to rebuild the innings.

Patterson made 19 before he became Neill’s third victim, while Fleet top-scored with 22 before falling shortly after, caught off Van der Berg. Both batsmen fell within the space of a few balls and the last five Prestwick players added just 
27 runs.

Meanwhile, Majid Haq yesterday guided Corstorphine into the Eastern Premier after his first season as player-coach of the Barnton club. Haq claimed 6-13 as Stoneywood-Dyce were skittled out for 28 in the play-off at Scroggie Park, Falkland. Corstorphine then cruised to their target with eight wickets to spare.