UDDINGSTON’s eagerly-awaited clash with Drumpellier may not settle the outcome of the title race but, as top hosts second, there is little doubt that this is the most important Lanarkshire derby in years.
The Bothwell club hold a slight advantage, having won all their games, but the only blemish on Drumpellier’s record is a tie against West.
Despite his side’s position, home skipper Bryan Clarke said: “Drumpellier are the favourites – they have won the last five matches between us at Bothwell Castle. Drumps have been exceptional this year and already have the confidence of winning a trophy [Rowan Cup].”
However, Clarke also talked up his own team’s chances, adding: “Sammy Zia has been in impressive form with the ball and could be the difference on a very dry pitch.”
Graeme McLaren, the Drumpellier captain, also pointed to his side’s recent head-to-head record, saying: “We’ve played them twice at Bothwell Castle in T20s this season and won both so we take great confidence from that.”
The fact that Uddingston have been using their Twitter feed to wish luck to Drumpellier’s recent opponents adds spice to the occasion, according to McLaren.
Gavin Main misses out for the hosts with an ankle injury, but Derek Allan returns. Drumps are boosted by the return of left-arm spinner Ally Rawlinson.
Clydesdale have hit form at a good time and may hope Drumpellier throw the title race open by winning at Uddingston. However, the Titwood side will take nothing for granted against a Renfrew side who recorded a notable win over West a week ago – their first success against the Hamilton Crescent club in a major tournament.
It is perhaps significant that the return of Zeeshan Bashir has coincided with Dale’s improved form, giving the Titwood side greater batting depth and a third spinning option. Renfrew skipper Sai Majeed is looking for Kamran Saeed to continue the destructive batting form in which he scored 45 from just 13 balls against West.
Any hope Dumfries had of a successful title defence was probably ended by last week’s defeat by Clydesdale but the Nunholm men are determined at least to finish in the top half of the table.
They may have their work cut out today against a Stirling outfit who are scrapping for survival. Chris Bellwood, among the most consistent batsmen in the country, is looking to make an impact for the hosts prior to turning out for the Reivers in their three-day clash with the Highlanders.
Likewise, Stirling star Nick Farrar would love to propel his side to their first win of the campaign prior to joining his Scotland U19 team-mates for the World Cup qualifier.
“We’re hoping Nick can head off in fine form and that the whole team can improve on last week when we didn’t score enough runs,” said skipper Graeme Taylor. Stirling’s Matthew Tweedie is out with an injured heel.
Like the game at Dumfries, West of Scotland’s clash with Ayr features a home team bidding for as high a finish as possible against visitors who are in the throes of a relegation battle.
Ayr have managed just one win all season and will be wary of West player-coach John Blain, the league’s leading wicket-taker.