Cricket: English leading the way at SMRH

Cedric English has been in excellent batting form for SMRH. Picture: Danny Lawson
Cedric English has been in excellent batting form for SMRH. Picture: Danny Lawson
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THE first batsman to pass 300 runs in the current Eastern Cricket Premiership is facing a late fitness test before claiming the opportunity to add to a sequence which reads 32, 104, 87 and 87.

Cedric English, who combines a role as head of senior coaching and development at SMRH with lecturing on Sports Coaching at Napier University, damaged a bicep towards the end of his latest innings at league leaders Arbroath.

“I’ll have to test my arm in the nets before committing, but I love playing against tomorrow’s opponents, Barclays Grange, and will be keen to turn out, especially with the game at Inverleith.

“We’ve tackled them twice in the Murgitroyd Masterton twenty:20 trophy, and the first time had them in a bit of trouble (26-4) when the rain came down.

“In the replay we lost by 12 runs chasing 142, but showed we can be competitive.”

Capped 47 times by Scotland, for whom he qualified on residency after moving from his native South Africa, English hit 85 not out in that tie to once again succeed in his aim of creating a positive environment for the younger SMRH players to thrive in.

Now 39, the all-rounder, who moved from Carlton last year, feels that as well as coaching he needs to give a lead on the pitch, especially in their first season in the Premiership.

“One of the things I am trying to do is ensure that our lads like Stephen Parker, who has great potential, can take the field knowing that there are runs on the board and that is always a better environment in which to be playing.

“Trying to provide a lead is something that is maybe contributing to the form I am in, as well as the club stepping up to the Premiership, and the need to find a higher level,” said the one-time Western Province all-rounder.

The South African sporting culture and the ways best practice can be integrated in Scotland is the subject of a Phd being undertaken by English, and one way of developing SMRH cricket is to have the lower teams climb the East League ladder.

“Things are going well outwith the 1st X1, where we suffered a blow a few days before the season started when our contracted professional (Kieran Noema-Barnett) tore a calf muscle and was required to delay his arrival.

“We are still hopeful of having our pro in the ranks for the second half of the season, and that would certainly help fulfil the goal of consolidating a place in the Premiership, while, in the longer term, the likes of pace bowler Ali Khan and all-rounder Jack Parnell have big future ahead of them.

“More and more of these lads are being integrated, and success against Barclays Grange would be a big boost.”

SMRH president Bert Barclay pays tribute to English, all-time leading run maker in the now defunct Scottish National League, saying:

“Cedric has an influence over the entire club, including schoolboys and juniors whom he helps coach during winter.”

While English, whose run aggregate of 310 is 50 more than the second placed batsman, battles to be fit Barclays, Grange also have injury problems.

Strike bowler Chris Sole is a doubt as they bid to develop momentum with a fourth successive league win, while skipper Neil McCallum is unsure whether teaching commitments will allow him to participate.

With Iain Worth unavailable it is possible Grange could promote Arun Pillai, whose spin bowling produced seven wickets for 14 runs last weekend in the East League against Edinburgh Southern, while he also made 55 not out with the bat.

Elsewhere, Heriot’s await Aberdeenshire, while Watsonians bid to get off the mark at home to Stoneywood Dyce.

Carlton can get back in the title race by winning at leaders Arbroath with caps Preston Mommsen and Gordon Drummond available.

“I’m very happy with the way our top order have bounced back from defeat in Aberdeen three weeks ago” says Mommsen.

Heriot’s give a debut to Richard Cummins fresh from 66 not out for the 2nds against Clackmannan. Also back are David Ross and Ali Farooq.

In the First Division, Penicuik and RH Corstorphine visit, respectively, Freuchie and West Lothian.

For RH Corstorphine, there is satisfaction to be taken from having four of the top 10 wicket takers so far, including the 6ft 5in left armer Mackenzie Barclay, while Abdul Majeed’s leg spin is complementing the work of Joe Kinghorn-Gray with pro Reuben Hattingh also contributing.

Hattingh will tomorrow be seeking a third successive league half century, while Cammy Leeder comes off the back of a knock of 124 in the win over Dundee High.

Filling a gap caused by skipper Oasmaan Malik’s unavailability is the experienced Jason McCarthy, as RHC seek to close the gap on leaders Glenrothes.