Cricket: Davidson's main men back in fold

Grange evergreen Stuart Davidson has hailed Cricket Scotland's decision to release international players from impending Saltires commitments so as to contribute to a potentially-absorbing premiership climax tomorrow.

Davidson's Grange side travel to Forfarshire knowing victory would give them their sixth title in 11 years but any slip is liable to be punished by chasing Watsonians at Dunfermline.

"While the availability of the Saltires contingent, including our Neil McCallum and Oli Hairs, might give skipper Sanjay Patel a selection headache, it is fitting that every side has the chance to be at full strength at the end of a really exciting campaign," said Davidson in a reference to how Scotland are due at Durham on Sunday followed by another Clydesdale Bank pro-40 series match at Warwickshire 24 hours later.

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One of four Grange players who were in at the beginning of the successful run a year after the national league was fully inaugurated back in 2000 - Cameron Coles, Simon Smith and Andy Wilson are the others - Davidson is hopeful that experience can be a key factor for his side tomorrow.

"If you take into account Mike Powell (ex-England A) there are a few lads in our dressing-room who have played under a bit of pressure and that might just help us out tomorrow taking nothing for granted against a Forfarshire side loaded with talent, including Matthew Parker (in the squad to face Durham and Warwicks) and Ryan Watson.

"The competition for places is going to mean disappointment in some quarters but, for those chosen, there will be a responsibility to justify selection, which can also be important.

"I agree with our captain Sanjay Patel who said this would be one of the more satisfying league wins were we to be successful.

"At times when the Saltires lads were away and a professional appointment (Roy Adams) was still in the process of being fixed up, it was the younger members who held the challenge together - a bit like when Aberdeenshire took the title in 2009.

"The constant was the skipper, who has always managed to keep a level head and that will be needed again tomorrow."

While the Grange selection is still under wraps, the likes of Davidson appears to have timed his comeback from injury wisely.

"I had actually recovered from a broken finger about three weeks ago when I suffered a back complaint.

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"In the circumstances, I was delighted to get back into the side and make a contribution (4-30 and 25 runs) against Aberdeenshire last week.

"Whoever plays, the great thing is that matters are in our own hands so as to eliminate any need to keep phoning around trying to find out what's happening elsewhere."Hopefully, the title will be earned on the pitch and not as a consequence of rain-offs."

For Watsonians, Ben Fox takes over the gloves from Euan Stubbs with Ryan Flannigan returning from international duty.

Making a farewell appearance will be Scotland A spinner Ross Paxton, who will be looking to boost a haul of 87 SNCL wickets including 21 this season.

That is nine behind Stuart Chalmers who leads the way at the top of the bowling charts with 33 victims.

Carlton may be out of the title hunt as they head for Aberdeenshire but it is still a big weekend for the Grange Loan club, whose under-18s contest the Scottish twenty:20 semis and final at Stirling on Sunday.

Three of that side are included for the trip to Aberdeen - Nick Martin (making his debut), Rajan Bhopal and Tom Barratt - but Saltires Ross Lyons, Gordon Drummond and Fraser Watts miss out.

In Division One, Heriot's can take the title by winning at second-placed Arbroath but skipper Steve Knox takes nothing for granted, saying: "Arbroath are also in the hunt and we expect around 300 or 400 locals to turn out and try to scream their side to victory."

The Division Two card sees SMRH visit champions Dumfries while there are home games for Edinburgh and RH Corstorphine against, respectively, Weirs and West Lothian..

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