Cricket: Edinburgh CC aim to complete turnaround

Edinburgh Cricket Club. From back row, left to right: Atif Imran, Abdul Majeed, Qasim Ashraf, Usman Haider, Rasheed Ahmed, Irfan Akhtar and front row left to right: Atif Hussain, Zubair Ul-haq, Bilal Ahmed, Umair Farooq and Kashif Hussain
Edinburgh Cricket Club. From back row, left to right: Atif Imran, Abdul Majeed, Qasim Ashraf, Usman Haider, Rasheed Ahmed, Irfan Akhtar and front row left to right: Atif Hussain, Zubair Ul-haq, Bilal Ahmed, Umair Farooq and Kashif Hussain
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Having joined the club when he was a teenager, Edinburgh cricket captain Kashif Hussain is excited to be leading his team into their first ever Murgitroyd Masterton Trophy semi-final.

Tomorrow night they will take on fellow Baillie Gifford ESCA Championship outfit Stuart&Stuart Penicuik at Campbell Park in the T20 event. The victors will have the chance to play either Mazars Grange or Watsonians in the final at Grange Loan on July 3.

And if Edinburgh can get to that showpiece event it would cap a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the club.

Having been formed earlier this century Edinburgh progressed up into the national leagues at one point only to hit some financial and ground difficulties in 2011. As a result they were suspended from playing by ESCA that summer and that was a tough spell for the club.

Hussain, 30, said: “When we were suspended and moved away from Academy Park we lost quite a few players who drifted away to other clubs.

“At that time we had been running three teams, but when we restarted in 2012 we could only get out two teams and often the second XI only had eight players. However, myself and a group of other players were keen to build the club again and we worked hard to recruit players and soon everyone was playing with a smile again.

“The first XI finished as runners-up in East Two in 2012, but because we were playing our home matches in the Meadows we could not go up because the facilities there were not suitable for East One.

“We stuck at it though and in 2013 we won the division and then managed to agree a deal with the local council to use Campbell Park in Colinton for our home matches.”

All of that meant that by last summer the club was in good health again and that only improved when the first XI went through the whole East One season undefeated. “I thought we would have a good chance to win that league last year, but I did not expect us to not lose any matches,” Hussain admitted. “When I lifted the trophy it was the proudest moment of my cricket career and since then we have kept working hard.

“We have made sure that the club is on a good financial footing and we have invested in rollers, portable nets and such things for Campbell Park.

“Three XIs now turn out each weekend and as well as the firsts doing fine in the Championship, the second team are top of East Five and the third XI are second in East Nine.”

So far in the Championship this season Edinburgh have won three matches and are fifth. The most recent of those victories came on Saturday when Hussain led the way with a century at Arboreum as 
they saw off Holy Cross by 60 runs.

However, they have kept their best two performances of the campaign for the Masterton T20 event, causing a shock in round one to defeat Carlton and then last week putting in a cracking run chase to see off SMRH. Hussain said: “I can hardly ever remember us ever getting past round one in the Masterton, so to reach the last four is just brilliant. The guys are looking forward and if we could make the final it would be a very special moment.”

When Edinburgh met Penicuik in the league earlier this term the former won by two wickets in mid-May.