History made as Forfarshire win Eastern Premier title for first time

Forfarshire clinched the Eastern Premier title for the first time after a commanding win over Carlton at Forthill.
Ryan Watson delivered a solid innings as Forfarshire won the Eastern Premier title. Picture: SNSRyan Watson delivered a solid innings as Forfarshire won the Eastern Premier title. Picture: SNS
Ryan Watson delivered a solid innings as Forfarshire won the Eastern Premier title. Picture: SNS

The Angus side, who have led the way throughout the campaign, knew victory would be enough to topple champions Grange, regardless of the outcome of Edinburgh team’s derby clash at Watsonians.

And, despite the absence of skipper Micheal Leask and player-coach Craig Wallace who were busy in Aberdeen helping Scotland beat Papua New Guinea, they romped home in style.

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Batting first, Shire shrugged-off the absence of their star batsmen to post a challenging 251-8 thanks to several important contributions.

After the loss of two early wickets, Chris Greaves settled home nerves with a patient 99-ball 68 including four boundaries and three maximums.

He had solid support from former Saltires skipper Ryan Watson who also hit four boundaries in his 41 while the late flourish was again provided by Callum Garden whose 41-ball 54 included four big sixes.

Brock Ditchmen also played his part with 26 not out in a rapid eighth-wicket stand of 60 with Garden.

In reply Carlton were pegged-back by Scott Cameron’s two early wickets and, in truth, the capital side were never in contention as batsmen came and went at regular intervals.

Fittingly wickets were shared around in what has been a real all-round team effort throughout the season from Forfarshire whose success was immediately hailed by outgoing champions Grange who tweeted: “Congratulations to Forfarshire on winning the league. Thoroughly deserved champions.”

Grange had earlier done their best to keep the title race alive by racing to one of the quickest wins of the campaign. The defending champions rolled over Watsonians for just 44 at Myreside before taking just 25 deliveries to secure a ten-wicket triumph.

Player-coach John Blain, the former Scotland, Yorkshire and Northants pace bowler and recent inductee into Cricket Scotland’s Hall of Fame, did the early damage with his best performance of the season.

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Blain rolled-back the years to claim 5-13 from a brilliant ten-over spell that included five maidens. With all the back-up bowlers playing their part – Connor Shorten the best with 2-2 – none of the home batsmen could manage a lengthy stay at the crease. In contrast, Olly Hairs and Ryan Flannigan came out with all guns blazing, the former racing to 33no as Grange won at a canter.

Forfarshire will have to wait to discover who they will meet in the Cricket Scotland Grand Final after the Western Premier suffered more weather misery.

In what was a huge anti-climax the potential title decider between top two Uddingston and Prestwick got underway thanks to sterling efforts from the ground staff at Bothwell Castle.

However, a huge downpour just after the halfway stage meant no further play was possible.

By then second top Prestwick had clawed their way to a competitive 155 in tricky batting conditions.

In reply, Uddingston had reached 33-1 from 9.2 overs before rain had the final say.

The only other game to start, the clash between outgoing champions Ferguslie and long-time challengers West of Scotland, met a similar fate at Meikleriggs.

Uddingston must now win at Clydesdale on Saturday to be crowned champions but defeat would open the door for Prestwick should they beat Ferguslie.