Cricket: Mommsen points the way forward for youthful Carlton

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It was perhaps fitting that one of the Capital’s most talented cricketers should have the final say on Saturday in a Cricket Scotland Eastern Premier Division season that has had many twists and turns.

Carlton batsman Preston Mommsen hit the winning runs for his club against Grange at Grange Loan and while it did not win them the title it played a major part in handing the silverware to Watsonians.

Early on in the afternoon second-placed ‘Sonians match with Aberdeenshire at Myreside was called off due to the amount of rain that had fallen during the week.

And that meant the final-day equation was simple – a Grange win at Carlton would see them crowned champions while a loss would see the title go to Myreside.

Batting first Grange generally found it quite tough going on a pitch that itself had seen its fair share of rain in the proceeding days. However, they had got off to a bit of a flyer early on and the wicket of Gregor Maiden from the first ball bowled by Omar Ahmad was key to that.

Grange captain Neil McCallum and Ryan Flannigan then shared a 54-run third wicket partnership before the exciting future of Carlton showed itself when teenager Haris Aslam grabbed the wicket of the former thanks to a catch by fellow youngster Chayank “Cheeky” Gosain.

After that it was left to Flannigan to take his side past 150, his 69 helping them post 167-8.

In their reply Carlton looked well placed on 84 and having lost just two wickets, but two wickets by spinner Andrew Brock in two balls changed the complexion of things.

Firstly he had Scotland captain Gordon Drummond caught behind and then Umair Mohammad fell to a smart catch by McCallum. With Mommsen still at the crease though Carlton always fancied their chances. The all-rounder was dropped on 35 in the 40th over, Sanjay Patel putting down a tough chance off the bowling of teenager Duncan Player, and it would come back to haunt them as he shared in a 68-run stand with Toby Bailey (34) and then reached his 50 at the same time as hitting the winning runs.

That left Mommsen and his team mates celebrating – though wondering what might have been having finished in third – and the Grange players stunned as they saw the title slip away.

Carlton captain Fraser Watts said: “We are pleased to finish with a win, but we know we could have won the title this season and just a couple of weeks have let us down as well as frustrating days like last week when we were on course to beat Forfarshire before the bad weather set in.

“Despite not winning the title what has been great for me this summer has been the number of our young players who have played first XI cricket and that means that the future here is bright.”

News of Grange’s loss soon filtered over to the Watsonians team who were in their clubhouse at Myreside and captain Stuart Chalmers was delighted that his side had finished top. He said: “It is a bit strange to win the trophy on a day when we didn’t actually play, but it is a great feeling to be champions. Over the last couple of years we have come close to winning the national top flight without quite getting there, but to come out top in the East is special.

“We have a good spirit in the dressing-room and a good mixture of youth and experience .”

‘Sonians will look back to a tight match they won against Heriot’s at Myreside back in May as well as home victories against Carlton and Grange as key to helping them finish at the summit. In terms of batting both vice-captain Ewan Chalmers (296) and pro Jean Symes (291) finished amongst the top runs scorers in the division while Pete Legget (13), Dewald Nel (13) and skipper Chalmers (12) were consistent with the ball in what was a rain-affected and ‘topsy turvy’ season.

This coming Saturday ‘Sonians will now play Cricket Scotland Western Premier Division champions Dumfries at Grange Loan to see who wins the national title.