Sandy Strang: Dumfries cake will be iced by victory over Watsonians
IT WAS AN impressive sight. Nunholm. Mid-April 2008. My Ferguslie colleagues and I had just arrived at the sun-drenched home of Dumfries CC for a pre-season friendly. The first game of another promise-filled season.
What greeted us was a fine, firm wicket on a magnificently manicured square, an immaculately trimmed outfield, a spotlessly clean changing area, and a warmly hospitable clubhouse. Little wonder Benfield Park had won Ground of the Year in 2006. This, remember, was still April. Much work had demonstrably been going on behind the scenes to create an outstanding cricketing ambience. Here was a club on the up. Going places. Big style.
They could play, too. Seasoned veterans like Davie Davidson, Jim Patterson, Stuart Corbett-Byers, allied to a couple of decent Aussie amateur all-rounders – the Nunholm policy has always been to reject the quick-fix hired assassin route – and, crucially, a batch of clearly talented youngsters, products of a splendid youth development programme spearheaded by Trefor Williams and his flotilla of coaches, made up a decent, competitive side.
A large part of this concerted endeavour finally came to fruition last Saturday evening. Dumfries won their third successive league title. The biggest of the lot. The 2010 SNCL Division 2 crown and the 2011 SNCL Championship were mere precursors to the inaugural Cricket Scotland Western Premier League title of 2012. “A win against West”, said Corbett-Byers prophetically last Friday, “would mean we’ve beaten every team in the league at least once, which, even in a rain-blighted season, would make us creditable champions.”
Very creditable. And they did it their way. The team way. Their veterans delivered, Byers himself with a late wee cameo saw his side through to a challenging 196. Pat Druce claimed the first and last wicket. Their Aussies also delivered, stand-in skipper Josh Geary’s disciplined 67 at No 4 was the bedrock of the innings and their younger brigade delivered too. Scotland U19 starlet Tom McBride’s 107-run partnership with Geary rescued the Doonhamers from a parlous 33 for 3 before Alan Davidson’s dead-eye 6 for 30 with the ball, including, remarkably, a wicket in each of five consecutive overs, finally snuffed out any lingering West hopes.
“I think the key to our success has been teamwork and it’s down to everyone at the club, not just the players”, reflected Geary in the euphoric aftermath of Saturday’s victory.
The history books record that the Dumfries men in maroon and blue are one of Scotland’s oldest clubs, dating back to 1853, and that in their first 150 years of existence they won little bar the Border League in 1938 and 1993.
“Winning the title in this, our first full season in the top flight, is a fantastic achievement,” enthused Geary as Saturday’s champagne corks popped. And there could be more in the immediate offing. This Saturday brings a trip to Grange Loan and a play-off against Eastern Premier champions Watsonians for the title of Scottish Champions. “That would be the icing on the cake,” acknowledges Byers.
Capital gains aplenty in the main events
HERIOT’S. Watsonians. Grange. Carlton. SMRH. Five Capital clubs. Five Cricket Scotland 2012 trophies and counting. A further hugely productive weekend for the big Edinburgh clubs ensured a remarkable stranglehold on most of this season’s major domestic silverware.
Heriot’s triumph at Titwwood on Sunday to lift the Scottish Cup, beating Watsonians with seven wickets and seven overs remaining, came just 24 hours after the Myreside men themselves had tasted champagne, when defeat for Grange at Carlton in their final league match presented them with the Eastern Premier League.
Grange then cast aside Saturday’s angst, and joined the national silverware party themselves on Sunday, lifting the CS Trophy at Linlithgow, a couple of 30s from “Smudger” Smith and George Munsey seeing the Stags home by five wickets against Arbroath.
Add to these a couple of earlier trophy grabs, Cedric-English inspired, undefeated SMRH lifting the CS Eastern First Division last week and lately luckless Carlton setting the title ball rolling in early August by capturing the Murgitroyd National T20 title at Shawholm.
Glimpse of a mighty history, then a humbling fall from grace
IT’S BEEN a bizarre, bittersweet week – and a surreal season – for once vaunty Greenock. Only last Sunday, Glenpark was welcoming many of the main men in recent Scottish cricketing history for the club’s 150th Anniversary Match between a bolstered club XI and a powerful CS President’s team. Gordon Drummond, Fraser Watts, Paul Hoffmann, Dougie Lockhart, Bruce Patterson, Neil McCallum, Andy Tennant. They were all there. As was dual internationalist and ex-Rangers goalie Andy Goram, still in striking form as a cricketer. CS President Jack Ker was there too, presenting a commemorative quaich to club president Peter Hempsey.
Fast forward just six days to Saturday, and a harrowing dose of current cricketing reality. A toiling Greenock side tumble haplessly to 95 all out to title-challenging Clydesdale at Titwood, despite Richie Berrington’s valiantly unavailing 33 and three wickets. It was the final nail in the Glenparkers’ relegation coffin.
A particularly painful defeat for the SNCL winners of 2007 and five-times Scottish Cup winners since 2001. Time now for much hard thinking about a future renaissance.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east