For the second year in a row, the destination of the CSL Eastern Premier Division title was decided at Grange Loan, with Arbroath this time picking up the silverware on Saturday after a dramatic day.
Twelve months ago Carlton defeated Barclays Grange at the ground to hand the title to Watsonians and this time Arbroath defeated the home side to end their hopes of finishing top and take the trophy up the road to Lochlands.
And they could not have done so in any more exciting circumstances, Carlton batsman Rob Thornton needing to hit a six off the last ball of the match to win and keep his side in the running for another seven days.
He gave the ball an almighty smack, but it lofted up to the fielder and he took the catch, sparking wild celebrations amongst the Arbroath players and their large band of supporters. On Saturday evening as they sat in the changing room and the Arbroath players celebrated, the Carlton players will know this was another that got away. Cricket is a game of fine margins, but given that they needed 104 off the last 20 overs, with eight wickets in hand chasing 227 to win and then needed 68 off 14 overs with two batsmen they will feel they should have got over the finishing line.
Credit must go to Arbroath though, for they have been the most consistent team in the top flight all summer. and in Brendan Ford and Calvin Burnett they had men on fire on Saturday.
Batting first, Arbroath posted 226-7 off 50 overs. Australian Ford led the way with a superb 118 and he was well supported by 32 by Saltires’ man Burnett.
With the ball for Carlton, Thornton led the way with 4-49 while Omar Ahmad, Gordon Drummond and Chayank Gosain were also in the wickets. Thornton’s spell also included the best ball of the innings when he bowled the in-form Fraser Burnett with a beauty.
Carlton’s reply got off to a solid, if unspectacular, start as they made it to 39-0 off 11 overs with Hamish Gardiner and Kyle Macpherson opening.
MacPherson went soon after 50 had been reached for 24 though and Gardiner was going well until he was caught in the slips for 44 to leave them 88-2 off 22 overs.
Stand-in skipper Fraser Watts and Ireland cap Rory McCann then steadied the ship, but in the last 20 overs things started to go wrong as Arbroath started putting pressure on.
Watts (51) and then Drummond (12) fell, but still they were in the box seat as 26 was needed off five overs with six wickets to spare.
After a delay for an injury McCann was out lbw to Ford (49) and Kyle Stirling, Jamie Kerr, Ahmad and Gosain followed with many Carlton supporters unable to watch. Thornton and young Fraser Allardice needed 14 off the last over, but could not make it.
Grange could now finish second after they defeated SMRH comfortably by six wickets at Portgower Place.
Batting first the visitors made 130, Martin Speirs digging in for 50 and spinners Andrew Brock and Gregor Maiden taking four and three wickets respectively.
George Munsey’s good season continued with 61 as the hosts won by six wickets.
Heriot’s and Watsonians saw their trips to Aberdeenshire and Stoneywood-Dyce fall foul of the weather.
In the CSL Eastern First Division on Saturday Penicuik were defeated by Freuchie after being bowled out for 117.
As has been their problem all summer the Midlothian men did not get enough runs on the board, being bowled out for 117.
In reply Freuchie got home with six wickets in hand and
Penicuik will finish bottom and are set for a play-off to determine which league they will be in next year. Also yesterday, Ruben Hattingh hit 51 as RH Corstorphine defeated West Lothian by seven wickets