John Blain produced a seam bowling masterclass as Eastern Premier champions Grange won the Cricket Scotland Grand Final with an easy victory over Ferguslie at Lochlands, Arbroath.
The Paisley side went into the clash with high hopes of following Prestwick’s lead of last season to become only the second team from the west to take the title.
And when they restricted Grange to 184-8 optimism increased in the Ferguslie camp. However, Blain had other ideas and the former Scotland, Northants and Yorkshire paceman called on all his vast experience to stifle the normally free-scoring Ferguslie batsmen.
Despite putting on a solid 24 for the first wicket, Ferguslie were pegged back from the moment Blain trapped Michael English lbw. The Grange player-coach went on to claim 5-20 from his ten-over spell as Ferguslie were suddenly reduced to 44-6 and then 58 all out.
Despite his heroics with the ball, though, Blain insisted the key contribution had been made by Tom Foulds and skipper Andrew Brock, who provided a crucial 77-run partnership in what was a low-scoring encounter.
Blain said: “I know I got five wickets but the real game-changer was the stand between Foulds and Brock. It wasn’t an easy wicket and it’s a big oval so we knew every run was worth two and the pair of them got their heads down and put us in a good position.”
Earlier, Ferguslie had made the ideal start when skipper Jamey Carruthers forced a miscue from the dangerous Gordon Goudie who was caught by English for just 11. The Paisley side then grabbed the initiative with three quickfire strikes from Riyaad Henry.
Playing on the ground where his famous father Omar made his mark a generation earlier, Henry first trapped Ryan Flannigan and soon after found the edge of Nick Farrar’s bat, Dave Stafford completing the catch. They suffered an even bigger setback when the veteran Neil McCallum also departed cheaply, becoming Henry’s third victim when he was caught by Hamza Tahir to leave the Edinburgh side in trouble on 53-4.
But the fifth-wicket stand of 77 between Foulds and Brock brought some respite before Carruthers returned to the attack to remove the former. Skipper Brock went on to top-score with 39 before nicking Hamza Tahir behind, while the Ferguslie attack continued to keep their discipline in restricting their rivals to 184-8.
Grange have the chance to complete a memorable treble when they face Heriot’s in the re-arranged Scottish Cup final on Saturday.