Victory moves Clydesdale to the brink of title

Clydesdale captain Majid Haq claimed 4-15 as he took out Ayr's lower order. Picture: SNS
Clydesdale captain Majid Haq claimed 4-15 as he took out Ayr's lower order. Picture: SNS
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ARITHMETICALLY Clydesdale are not quite Western Union champions yet but there is no doubt that the title is heading to Titwood.

Detailed calculations show that Majid Haq’s side still require 0.66666 of a point to ensure they cannot be caught.

In other words, Clydesdale would have to lose heavily to both Renfrew and Dumfries in their remaining two matches while failing to garner a single point. A further part of the equation would require East Kilbride to take maximum points from their last two games.

Yet, if rain, a fairly persistent opponent to this cricket season, should return, Clydesdale could be champions without bowling a further ball in anger.

There was therefore qualified celebration at Cambusdoon on Saturday evening after Clydesdale saw off the challenge of Ayr, fittingly enough the side whose crown they will take.

After a relatively routine five-wicket win, Clydesdale manager Colin Mitchell said: “There was a bit of confusion on Saturday evening but we got confirmation from the WDCU that we still need a point to be champions. By my reckoning that means we just need to take one wicket in our remaining two games so we’ve got to be pretty confident but we acknowledge that we will only be champions when no-one can catch us.”

Clydesdale produced a typically no-nonsense display to take that tantalising step closer.

Ayr had moved smoothly to 50-2 before Basit Ali struck to remove the dangerous Lenert van Wyk.

The South African’s departure proved crucial as Clydesdale suddenly took a grip on proceedings with Haq going through Ayr’s lower order to claim 4-15 as the hosts fell away to 107 all out.

Haq made 46 in Dale’s reply but his departure left the champions-elect teetering on 74-5 and in need of a steadying 
partnership. It was provided by Paddy Barbour and Sam Page who calmly guided their team over the winning line.

Mitchell added: “That game was in many ways a microcosm of our season and the most pleasing thing was the Page/Barbour partnership – a couple of non-headline grabbers – getting the job done. It really hasn’t been all about our big-name players – though they have contributed. It has been about the team effort, though we will talk a bit more about that once we’ve got that vital one point more!”

Elsewhere, East Kilbride replaced Ferguslie as the only side with that improbable chance of denying Clydesdale, Josh Johnston’s side beating the Paisley men by three wickets at Torrance House.

Batting first, Ferguslie were indebted to skipper Gregor Preston-Jones for giving them a fighting chance.

Preston-Jones’ battling 50 and 37 by Taimoor Ahmed hoisted the tally to 180, a total which might have been enough but for Moneeb Iqbal’s controlled unbeaten 71 which included seven boundaries and two maximums.

Kelburne bounced back from their defeat at Clydesdale seven days earlier to beat the 2013 champions Uddingston at Whitehaugh.

Qasim Sheikh’s half-century took the Paisley side to 192-8 before Scott Hamilton and Dougie Wylie shared six wickets to help dismiss Uddingston for 170.

Renfrew produced their best batting display of the season to secure their first win of the campaign and leapfrog victims West of Scotland. Laxman Poplis’s 88 had propelled West to 227-8 before Renfrew fought back to win by six wickets. However, relegation still looms for both teams.

It was also high-scoring fare at Nunholm where Josh Forsyth and Scott Beveridge scored half-centuries as Dumfries rattled-up 261-7 against Drumpellier who fell just nine runs short.