NEW Grange player-coach John Blain believes teenage spinner Tom Sole will be worthy of a Scotland senior squad call-up sooner rather than later.
The former World Cup paceman issued his verdict after the youngster claimed a five-wicket haul to complete an opening-day demolition job on capital rivals Watsonians at Raeburn Place.
While delighted with the overall performance of the hosts and the manner in which they went about their business, Blain made it plain that Sole had been the star of the show, with batsman Ryan Flannigan playing a stout supporting role.
Blain declared: “If ever I saw a young spin bowler who I would call a future internationalist, it is Tom.
“Certainly, the people in the Scotland set-up should be looking at him. He bowls it beautifully and has ability to change pace. He bats well too, fields at point and is an excellent athlete.
“There is also a solid personality there with a great work ethic. A great all- round package, in fact.”
Sole, the younger cricketing son of Scotland Grand Slam rugby skipper David, sparked utter panic in the Sonians ranks in their pursuit of 213.
They capitulated from 93 for two to 138 all out, with Sole snapping up five for 15 from his six overs.
Earlier, Flannigan had been the bulwark of the Grange innings, hitting 82 against his old club.
While Sole took the plaudits with the ball, it was Forfarshire captain Craig Wallace who emerged as the batsman who made the biggest impression.
The out-of-favour Scotland gloveman thumped a spectacular unbeaten 162 to inspire his team to a clinical success against Heriot’s at Goldenacre.
But a modest Wallace shrugged off his wonder-show to insist: “As a team, we played almost the perfect game – and that is a nice feeling.
“A lot of work has gone into the club over the past three years or so and that endeavour is definitely paying off.”
Shire made 293 for eight, an impressive tally on an April pitch and outfield.
Wallace did the damage off only 142 balls, his last 62 coming from just 18 blows. The thrilling innings – his 12th ton in all forms of cricket for the club – featured six sixes and 12 fours.
Wallace had stout support from Matty Parker and new recruit Michael Leask and the target was always likely to be outwith the scope of a home side.
Heriot’s set off on their reply in purposeful style, but wickets tumbled at regular intervals. Liam Sweeney was the pick of the attack, breaking through four times at the cost of 27 to send the locals sliding to 162 all out.
Veteran opener Steve Knox (80 not out) was the only Heriot’s batsman to offer solid resistance.
Champions Aberdeenshire safely negotiated a tricky hurdle in Falkland, thanks to the efforts of Adrian Neill and Callum Martin at Scroggie Park.
Martin’s whirlwind 81 not out from 41 balls guided the Dons to 254 for eight. Neill then claimed a six-wicket haul to complete the 140-run success.
The astonishing batting form of Hamish Gardiner continued at Lochlands, where Carlton surged to a clear-cut victory over Arbroath.
Gardiner had whacked a century in each innings to carry Scotland’s second string Xl to a win against their Durham counterparts in midweek. He carried on where he had left off, albeit he missed out on three figures by only two runs.
Arbroath had boldly opted to bat after winning the toss. They recovered from an early dose of the jitters to make 214 for nine. Skipper Marc Petrie led the revival with 64, with excellent back-up from young Harris Carnegie (41).
With Gardiner and Scotland captain Preston Mommsen in such rich form, such a total was not likely to pose a major problem for the capital outfit and they cruised home by seven wickets.
Stoneywood-Dyce made a bright start to their campaign, disposing of promoted RH Corstorphine by seven wickets at People’s Park.