Western Premier cricket: Clydesdale take nothing for granted, new faces, Ayr return to fold

Clydesdale today launch the defence of their Western Premier title with a mouth-watering Glasgow derby against West of Scotland.
The cricket season begins this weekend.The cricket season begins this weekend.
The cricket season begins this weekend.

Seven months after their thrilling last-day decider at Ferguslie, Dale make the short trip to Hamilton Crescent and are taking nothing for granted against a club who traditionally relish the local rivalry.

Paddy Barbour, Clydesdale’s captain, declared: “We really enjoyed our success – for a few months it was all we talked about but when training re-started I told the guys it was time to concentrate on a new challenge.

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“It’s always harder to defend the title than to win it the first time – we’re the only team to have managed it in 2015 and 2016 so hopefully we can do it again.

“But it will be difficult – a few teams have strengthened and West are always competitive.”

Dale themselves are bolstered by the arrival of Scotland Under-19 all-rounder Kess Sajjad, while West’s young Australian duo, Joe and Tom Colgan, have impressed in pre-season.

Elsewhere, last season’s runners-up Ferguslie host Stirling in a re-match which may have painful memories for the Paisley side, a one-run defeat then ultimately proving costly.

Ferguslie skipper Riyaad Henry said: “We will always believe we can beat anyone but we know we have to produce the goods every week.”

Perhaps the closest match to call sees Uddingston, fourth last season, entertain Prestwick who were one place higher.

Uddingston, having added Aman Ramzan and former Scotland star Moneb Iqbal, have lost opening bowler Niall Alexander to Eastern Premier champions Heriot’s.

Uddy skipper Bryan Clarke said: “It’s great to welcome Moneeb and Aman to the club. Moneeb is a great addition – a classy batter who will give us real strength in the middle.

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“Aman is a young guy who should have a big future. On the downside, it’s disappointing to lose Niall who has moved to Edinburgh for work.”

Prestwick go into action without former player-coach Majid Haq, who has taken up umpiring.

Ayr, division one champions last season, mark their Premier return with a trip to Dumfries. The Cambusdoon club have snapped-up Scotland star Hamza Tahir along with former U19 international Neil Flack.

Skipper Andi McElnea said: “The recruitment has been excellent – we’re very excited about having Tahir in our bowling ranks. He is a player who will be a threat in all conditions.

“Flack is another we’re happy about – he is a player with enormous talent who has lots to offer with bat and ball.

“We are confident that we can contest against the big clubs. If we get off to a strong start confidence will grow.

“Dumfries are always a team that fight hard so we’ll have a highly competitive match to kick off our campaign.”

The Nunholm side welcome back South African Jesse Smit as professional.

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Kelburne have South African batsman Garnett Tarr to bolster their first top flight campaign since 2017, the Paisley side opening with a home clash against a Langside team led by Anwar Hafeez following his switch from Uddingston.