Uddingston and West out to show credentials

Bryan Clarke hopes his Uddingston side can hit the ground running against West of Scotland. Picture: SNS
Bryan Clarke hopes his Uddingston side can hit the ground running against West of Scotland. Picture: SNS
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DUMFRIES may be reigning champions and Clydesdale favourites but Uddingston and West of Scotland are both keen to make their mark on this season’s Western Premier Division.

The pair get the chance to show their credentials as the campaign gets off to a belated start following two washouts.

A favourable forecast means Bothwell Castle Policies will stage the day’s top fixture and one which could already have a crucial bearing on the weeks ahead.

Certainly Bryan Clarke, the Uddingston captain, believes the curtailed programme makes victory all the more imperative.

He said: “It is difficult starting an already very short league programme two games late so anyone who gets on a good run early on might be difficult to catch.”

Clarke is quietly confident that it is Uddingston who may make a start to that process today, adding: “We’ve managed to play a couple of T20 games over the last two weeks and have trained well so hopefully we can hit the ground running.”

West player-coach John Blain said: “We’re expecting a high-scoring match on a historically good pitch and we will have to be at our best against a very strong Uddy team.”

The Bothwell side are without the experienced Ricky Bawa but West have major selection problems with Gavin Smith, Dave McNulty and Ian Cran all out, meaning much will depend on former Scotland bowler Blain’s ability with the ball.

Meanwhile, Clydesdale will also attempt to put the frustrations of the last two weeks behind them when they host Ayr at Titwood.

The Glasgow side were scheduled to entertain Dumfries on the opening day and had hoped to lay down a marker.

However, without a ball bowled during the opening two weeks, no-one has lost any ground and Clydesdale are arguably in better shape given the availability of Karim Farid and the recent acquisition from West of Scotland of Anjan Luthra, the former Scotland U19 batsman.

Saltires seamer Safyaan Sharif remains sidelined by injury. Ayr will be wary of a backlash following Clydesdale’s midweek defeat to Kelburne in the Murgitroyd Cup.

It is a mark of how far Dumfries and Renfrew have come that today they will meet for the first time-ever in a top-flight match.

As champions, Dumfries start favourites but Renfrew are determined to make their mark in their maiden Premier Division fixture.

Dumfries skipper Scott Beveridge has identified Australian-born fast bowler Peter Loszczyk as a key player in his side’s title defence.

Said Ahmed, beginning his eighth campaign, will spearhead Renfrew’s bid to establish themselves in the top division.

The day’s final game sees Drumpellier head to Stirling in buoyant mood following excellent results in the Scottish Cup.