Scottish cricket’s cap record holder Fraser Watts begun making up for lost time with a monster innings of 134 not out as Carlton hinted at an East Premiership revival with a 13-run win over Heriot’s at Goldenacre.
Watts, who missed the opening four games of the season, shared an 180-run stand with Irish internationalist Rory McCann and a total of 266 always looked daunting, even on a good batting track.
However, Heriot’s, for whom David Ross (55) and Max Papworth (51) had half centuries, took up the challenge in magnificent fashion before the key moment arrived courtesy of teenager Haris Aslam.
Typically downplaying his own achievement, Watts said: “The game really was hanging in the balance until Steve Knox ran the ball down to fine leg at the pavilion end.
“Cam Farrell set off for a third run, but Haris’ throw from the boundary was just above the top of the stumps, allowing Fraser Boyd to complete the run out.
“That was the moment that ignited our win, as Cam had been controlling things after David Ross batted really well.”
Earlier, Farrell had been dropped on the boundary, so the breakthrough was doubly welcome.
Star performer the previous weekend with six wickets in a washed out match at Watsonians, Ally Evans took a bit of stick in particular during his second spell from a patient and precise Ross, who was first to the half century.
In the absence of Gordon Drummond (calf), there were extra bowling responsibilities for young Ruari Macpherson and he, too, responded with the key wickets of Knox and Peter Ross.
Carlton may still sit eighth, but their three wins are only two less than leaders Arbroath.
“There is such a lot still to play for with every team experiencing ups and downs” said Watts in stopping short of predicting a title challenge just yet.
Elsewhere, Mazars Grange came close to providing the comeback of the season before finally going down by two
wickets at Aberdeenshire.
Within 35 minutes of the start Grange had six batsmen back in the pavilion with just 10 runs on the board after losing the toss and being inserted.
Things then got worse ... Jack Collister became the seventh Grange wicket to fall with the total of 11 and it took inspired performances from Simon Smith (50 not out) and Neil McCallum (24) to haul Grange to 116 all out.
Smith’s knock was the first half-century in the league this season by a Grange batsman, beating the previous highest tally of 44, by Chris Sole against Falkland.
Opening with Chris Venske, who boasted the highest aggregate (399), highest score (137no) and best average (99.75) so far in 2014 the Dons got off to a tidy start. However, Venske’s departure for 39 left ‘shire 76-5 and at 87-7 Grange were back in the game. Alas, Raj Routray’s 5-46 proved in vain.
At Myreside Watsonians ran Arbroath close restricting these league leaders to 192 partly through three wickets apiece for Ewan Chalmers and Fraser Sands, the former’s tally for the campaign now standing at 21.
However, when Andrew Chalmers fell for 46 to make the score 170-7 the tail collapsed for the addition of just three runs.
SMRH finally got off the mark with a three wicket win at Stoneywood Dyce.
The Capital side’s decision to field looked ropey when their opponents notched a 60 run opening stand, but brakes were applied and three wickets for pro Brad Moses meant a 187 run target.
Key scalp for Moses was Henk Conradie, stumped by Stephen Parker on 98.
SMRH could not have started better with Kyle McCallum (57) and Cedric English (70) breaking the league’s opening wicket record partnership for the season with 137 and a routine success followed.