Watsonians edge Dumfries in low scoring thriller
William Dick (CricketMedia Scotland)
A brilliant innings by Saltires batsman Ewan Chalmers steered Watsonians to victory in Cricket Scotland’s first Grand Final at Grange Loan, Edinburgh, last night.
The new domestic structure, introduced this season, has had its critics but the Myreside club and their Dumfries rivals produced a thrilling climax to a summer which has been ravaged by rain.
It looked as if this contest might more accurately be described as a mis-match when Dumfries slumped to 26-5 after being sent in to bat.
However, the Western Premier champions showed their renowned fighting spirit to post a creditable 125.
They then threatened to pull off the most remarkable victory by reducing the more fancied Edinburgh side to 59-6 as nerves jangled in the ‘Sonians ranks.
However, Chalmers was a picture of calm as he waited for the bad deliveries and dispatched them unerringly for priceless runs before his side sealed a three-wicket success with eleven overs to spare.
The Scotland batsman had walked to the crease with the score on 11-2 after the evergreen Pat Druce, one of several seasoned campaigners in the Dumfries ranks, and Chris McCutcheon had accounted for James Easton and Gus Fraser-Harris.
Chalmers then watched further mayhem unfold as Andy Hislop became Druce’s second victim before skipper Stuart Chalmers fell to a fine catch by Druce off Scott Beveridge.
Left-armer Beveridge looked capable of literally turning the match the underdogs’ way when he then accounted for Andrew Chalmers and Craig Wright in the same over on his way to figures of 3-17.
However, Chalmers finally found a stoic partner in Pete Legget whose 22 helped add 62 decisive runs for the seventh wicket.
By the time Legget was trapped in front Watsonians were just three short of their target and Chalmers was unbeaten on 70.
The talented Scotland man, who scored 86 for the Lions in midweek, had faced 95 deliveries and stroked eight fours on a day when boundaries were a rarity.
Earlier Dumfries could hardly have made a worse start with wickets tumbling at an alarming rate.
Nerves may have played a part in the collapse and that was certainly how it appeared when a needless run out accounted for Joe Clarke and sparked the collapse.
However, there was also some accurate bowling from the Watsonians bowlers who, even without the unavailable Dewald Nel, exercised control from the start.
Michael Legget, in particular, used the conditions to his advantage, while Scotland U19 skipper Paddy Sadler also put the ball on a good line and length.
The pressure paid off when Andrew Dawson edged a Legget delivery into the slips where James Easton took a regulation catch.
Legget then produced a brute of a ball to clean bowl the dangerous Scott Beveridge for a duck.
Sadler got in on the act when Chris Bellwood, having made 9, spooned a catch to Andrew Chalmers.
Dumfries were in deep trouble when Tom McBride, the Scotland U19 batsman, edged Legget to keeper Hislop.
At 26-5, Scottish cricket’s showpiece occasion was in danger of becoming an embarrassingly one-sided romp.
Legget’s left-armers had yielded 3-19 from ten overs bowled straight through and Dumfries were in a disarray.
However, the Nunholm side are Western Premier champions for a good reason – namely that they don’t know when they are beaten – and a spirited response salvaged their pride and the contest.
Stuart Corbett-Byers, a common-sense cricketer, led the way with a dogged innings while his middle and lower order colleagues responded to his lead.
Corbett-Byers gives the impression of being a player for a crisis and he suffered his own personal one when a Stuart Chalmers delivery struck him a painful blow in the midriff.
Undeterred, he continued to battle through the pain even though runs continued to be hard to come by.
Indeed, Corbett-Byers stroked a contender for shot of the innings through extra cover only for the ball to slow up on the lush Grange Loan outfield.
The Dumfries skipper did eventually manage three boundaries on his way to a fine 32.
He departed attempting to increase the scoring rate only to be caught be Stuart Chalmers off the bowling off Ewan Chalmers.
However, Dumfries found another willing fighter in the veteran Davie Davidson who went on to trump Corbett-Byers’ effort with a swashbuckling 38no which included four boundaries.
Alan Davidson and Pat Druce lent notable support while Stuart Legget, Michael’s young brother, claimed 2-19.
Dumfries may have fallen just short but they contributed handsomely to a fine match.