Sandy Strang: Heady times indeed for East Kilbride
IT HAS been a magical month at aspiring East Kilbride CC. A month of serious firsts for those intrepid Torrance House troopers.
They’ve just won the venerable Rowan Cup for the first time in their 87-year history, seeing off a testing triumvirate of Stenhousemuir, Poloc and Renfrew, before heading for Titwood and a cup final showdown with fancied, formidable Clydesdale.
It was a remarkable match. After posting a seemingly light 104 for nine against star-studded Dale – Saltires Majid Haq and Safy Sharif included – EK, skippered by Umair Saeed, soon had their hosts reeling at 26 for 6, and eventually 67 all out, to win comfortably by 34 runs. And victory was especially sweet for three EK stars, ex-Saltires left-arm spinner Ross Lyons, all-rounder Harry Singh, and keeper Craig Smith, all former players at Titwood, where they won two SNCL Premiership titles.
The Scottish Cup had earlier provided another EK first. In only their second season in national league cricket, they reached the knock-out stages of the major national cup competition for the first time, before succumbing to Eastern Premier big guns Heriot’s in the quarter-final.
Then came last Sunday’s near tour de force in the Murgitroyd T20 Finals Day at picturesque Shawholm. Left-hander Stuart Kampman was EK’s local hero in the semi-final, his quick-fire 58 ensuring the men from Calderglen began their fateful day encouragingly, trouncing Borders representatives Kelso by 97 runs. But, alas, in their first major national final they fell just short, edged out by only 19 runs by powerful Carlton, indebted to overseas amateur Michael Herdman’s well-judged 44, and Saltires skipper Gordon Drummond’s two quick wickets.
“I suppose it’s a measure of how far we’ve come in such a short time when I say that we’re genuinely disappointed not to have gone all the way in the T20, even though we were playing a proven team replete with full internationalists and district players well able to handle the pressure situations,” laments EK President Brian Kampman. Heady stuff for a small, provincial club founded just 50 years ago in the sometimes unsympathetic ambience of a ‘new town’. A club which featured for a quarter of a century in the relative backwaters of the then Glasgow and District League, before advancing to the newly-expanded Western Union in 1998.
“We’re delighted with how things have gone this season,” acknowledges stalwart EK secretary David Healy. “We lack the financial clout to bring in a ‘hired hand’ pro, and so have no choice but to build from within. Our success has been a fitting reward for all the hard work by the players and a whole host of volunteers all pulling in the same direction. It gives us a very positive platform on which to build and make a really big push across all competitions next year.”
“It is not too fanciful,” mused that estimable cricket historian David Potter in his splendid tome The Encyclopaedia of Scottish Cricket published more than a decade ago, “to imagine East Kilbride’s enthusiastic bunch of cricketers playing some day in the national league.” Well, prescient Mr Potter, they’ve done just that. And with gusto too. And there’s manifestly much more yet to come.
Boucher’s tragedy a reminder to all in sport
It WAS a chastening sight amidst all the dizzying
Olympian euphoria. Stricken ex-Springbok keeper Mark Boucher, once an indomitable, steely Proteas warrior, energiser, motivator, and inspirer, now donning a white eye patch,
informing the media pack over the weekend that he has lost the lens, iris and pupil in his left eye, the retina is detached, and “it is unlikely that I will play any professional cricket again”. A starkly poignant reminder that the spectre of career-threatening injury hovers constantly over every sportsman.
Some lucky few do make it back from the injury abyss. Aussie Lee Carseldine, who pro’d here in Scotland with Ferguslie in 1997, is one. “I saw Lee lying paralysed from the waist down,” recalled Matthew Hayden, “so sick with a back injury he was basically on death’s door.
“To come back from that and then rattle the cage of Queensland and Australian cricket is a phenomenal story. They should make a movie of it.” Closer to home, meanwhile, three young Saltires bowlers Saafy Sharif, Gordon Goudie and Matthew Parker have all recently been sidelined with serious long-term injuries, which have fortunately responded to surgery and rehab. They’ve been lucky.
Not so poor Boucher. His luck ran out. Big time.
All to play for in Premier titles run-in
It’s all bubbling up nicely. Only three rounds of matches to go in the two Premier Divisions, and a thrilling climax is on the cards.
No fewer than six teams remain in the mix to qualify for the showdown East versus West head-to-head at Grange Loan on Saturday 8 September.
Grange and Watsonians occupy joint pole position in the East, having each just lost one of seven games. Yet, as Grange skipper Neil McCallum rightly acknowledges, third-placed Carlton, SNCL winners last year, National T20 winners for the last two seasons, and Scottish Cup semi-finalists in 2012, still have an outside chance, and will almost certainly play a key role in the title destination when they host Grange on 1 September.
Meanwhile, in the West, stalwart Dumfries keeper and ex-skipper Stuart Corbett-Byers predicted two weeks ago that all the main contenders would stumble in the run-in, and so it has proved, with Clydesdale’s home defeat to Uddingston on Saturday seriously denting their challenge, and shipping them down to third. Dumfries themselves are again front runners, while early-season leaders West of Scotland are in second place. Intriguingly Dumfries will face West and their much-lauded seam attack at Nunholm, also on 1 September.
My prediction? Grange versus Dumfries for the inaugural CSL title.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South