Grange show fighting spirit
William Dick Cricket Media Scotland
Grange last night took a giant step towards the SNCL premier division title when they carved out a remarkable win over Uddingston at Bothwell Castle.
Doubts have been cast in some quarters over the Edinburgh side's ability to handle the pressure of a tight league run-in, particularly in the absence of their Scotland international stars.
They were deprived of the services of Neil McCallum, Gregor Maiden and Giles Holmes for what always looked like being a tough examination of their championship credentials against a side who had already beaten them this season and who simply had to win to maintain their own slim hopes of glory.
However, anyone who witnessed the way Grange clawed their way back into this contest from a seemingly hopeless position will surely be convinced that Sanjay Patel's men mean business. Batting first, Grange slumped to a miserable 91 all out – their lowest total of the season and one of their poorest of all time. Home skipper Ricky Bawa led the wicket charge with 3-20 , while Paul Hoffmann, having turned down the chance to come out of international retirement, boosted Uddingston's cause with a superb spell of nine overs which included six maidens and saw the former Scotland bowler claim 2-6. Only Simon Smith showed the necessary resolve for the visitors with a solid knock of 26.
With conditions for batting gradually improving, Uddingston's reply should have been a stroll in the park.
Instead the clatter of wickets was heard at even more frequent intervals as the Bothwell side suffered a collective dose of the jitters, while their rivals seized the initiative. It might have been different if Uddingston's prolific Australian Ed Cowan had not been run out by a direct hit from fellow professional Warren McSkimming. By then, the home team had already lost the normally steady Scott Dalgleish and, at 8-2, it was already clear that their task would be a lot tougher than had first been imagined.
It quickly became 16-4 with none of the Uddingston batsmen able to handle the pressure or the Grange bowlers and McSkimming, Stuart Davidson, Andy Wilson and Johnny Gray all claimed two wickets. The procession continued to such an extent that Grange completed victory inside 25 overs, their rivals having been skittled for a paltry 55.
Champions Greenock nevertheless stayed in touch with the leaders after a typically gutsy display against Clydesdale at Titwood. Kiwi Tim McIntosh was their hero with a superb unbeaten century as the Glenpark side rattled up an imposing 249-4 in sultry conditions.
McIntosh and Salesh Prabhu gave the visitors a solid start in a stand of 64 before the latter was trapped in front for 30. However, it was the New Zealander's second-wicket partnership of 136 with Aussie amateur Harry Byrnes Howe that put Greenock firmly in charge. For the second week running Brynes Howe posted a half-century, while always playing second fiddle to the imperious McIntosh. The hard-hitting left-hander faced 141 balls for his 120, hitting ten boundaries and three memorable sixes, one of which cleared the pavilion roof.
Clydesdale stuck to their task and Ross Lyons, the victim of some of McIntosh's most punishing shots, was rewarded for an excellent spell of left-arm spin with 3-47.
Greenock skipper Craig Wright demonstrated his improving fitness with a decent bowling stint of his own. He bowled straight through his ten overs at a cost of 26 runs and removed the dangerous Zulfi Shahid in the process. Kamran Sajid was the home side's top batsman with a half-century but the Glasgow side fell well short of their target.
Carlton stayed in touch with the top two after Ferguslie's miserable season hit a new low at Meikleriggs. Docked four points on Friday for failing to submit scores in time, Ferguslie went into this clash having slumped to the bottom of the table as a result of the penalty.
And they crawled to just 139-9 from their 50 overs, skipper Stuart Murray top-scoring with 57, while Stevie Gilmour claimed 5-27 for the visitors. Peter Wooden's 48no and 33 from Bryn Lockie steered Carlton to a comfortable six-wicket success.
Poloc lost at Heriot's and Watsonians were defeated by Ayr, thanks to Dougie Johnstone's unbeaten century.