Softly and efficiently, Mazars Grange have turned their season around to emerge as leading Capital challengers for the Eastern Cricket Premiership ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Stoneywood-Dyce.
Only two wins separate the Raeburn Place outfit from the leaders and, in similar fashion, Indian-born Arun Pillai is quietly proving a key element.
Pillai hasn’t set the scene alight with a massive score or wicket haul, but his consistency has proved vital both in league and Scottish Cup duties, where Grange are through to the semis. In three of eight completed league matches, Pillai has outshone international colleagues to top-score and in last weekend’s nail-biting victory over champions Arbroath, it was his unbeaten 38 from down the batting order that held the side together.
Indeed, at the halfway stage of the league campaign, his 148 run aggregate was unsurpassed at Grange, albeit the tally has just been overtaken by Andrew Brock (152).
“Dropping anchor and hanging around is how I see my job,” says Arun, who moved to an IT job in Edinburgh three years ago from Mysore and now works as a freelance software consultant.
He adds: “Opening partners like George Munsey or Ryan Flannigan could take care of the bad balls and I’d hold the other end up. That suited me and although I love opening, moving down the order last week to let that pair open against Arbroath was no problem.
“Arriving at the club three years ago, I spent a season in the seconds and then some opportunities arose to keep wicket in 2013 with Simon Smith on duty as fitness coach to the Scotland teams. This year has brought regular starts, but there is so much competition I try to make the most of any opportunity.”
Arun can bowl spin so effectively, he has eight Scottish Cup wickets from three starts and has proved reliable in the field with five league catches; a spectacular run out when Watsonians were overcome in the Murgitroyd Masterton T20 semi-final adds to the CV.
“We went into that semi looking for a bit of form, but determined to win and also league and cup matches at the weekend. Having won all three I feel we have a platform from which to challenge for trophies.”
Meanwhile, Pillai hopes to keep adding to laurels, which include an East of Scotland League Player of the Month award when he hit a 50 and took seven wickets for Grange 2nds against Edinburgh Southern in 2013. That means drawing on experiences of growing up in “cricket-mad” India.
“The passion cricket attracts in India, I first became aware of growing up in the town of Gujarat. I began to follow the career of Sachin Tendulkar and it was a great day when I saw him playing a Test innings against Australia.
“For all the passion, though, the people who help cricket in Scotland are exactly the same as their Indian counterparts when it comes to loving the game.
“At Grange, we talk cricket 90 per cent of the time just, like at the Jai Hind and RBN clubs I represented in India.”
Heriot’s host leaders Aberdeenshire tomorrow and SMRH entertain Carlton while Watsonians have home advantage when they welcome Forfarshire to Myreside.