Grange boosted for title showdown as five key players return

John Blain has been taking wickets since returning to the Grange team
John Blain has been taking wickets since returning to the Grange team
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Five key men return to the Mazars Grange side for tomorrow’s much anticipated top-of-the-table clash with Arbroath in the CSL Eastern Premiership.

With three rounds of the 2017 season to go the two teams who have had some great tussles in recent years meet at Portgower Place in a match that will go a long way to deciding where the trophy ends up come August 26.

Grange are in second spot and know that a win is needed – and skipper Preston Mommsen will be pleased to see a number of regulars back for this one.

Neil McCallum, Nick Farrar, Ryan Flannigan, Harris Aslam and Gordon Goudie are the ones returning to the XI with Scott Blain, Jonny Brock, James Dickinson, Bodie Hodges and Avinash Yadav dropping out.

It means the hosts are almost at full strength, just all-rounder Dylan Budge still missing through injury.

Given that McCallum, the former Scotland man, has scored 315 runs already in the league campaign, Farrar has been important since his return from university a few weeks ago, Flannigan and Aslam have opened the batting well and Goudie has 15 league wickets, they will clearly have a big part to play.

And John Blain, the 38-year-old former Scotland seamer, will be playing his third match on the bounce having entered the season late and with some impact.

He took 3-22 against Watsonians a fortnight ago and 3-16 in the victory over SMRH eight days ago and himself, James Tapper and Goudie will combine to form a pretty potent seam attack.

Blain, who also coaches the squad, said: “After the loss to Watsonians it was important that we got back to winning ways against SMRH last week and we put in a more accomplished performance especially in regards to our batting.

“Our bowling as a unit of late has been miserly at times, however our batting lacked application, but against SMRH things came together.

“It is good to have some guys back for the Arbroath game and we have been building up nicely for what should be a good match.”

Arbroath were frustrated last weekend, their match with Watsonians at Myreside not beating the rain.

Calvin Burnett leads their bowling attack and already has 21 league wickets while Elton Willemse has 20. Vice-captain Ross McLean has scored 383 league runs.

Heriot’s are third and still harbour outside title hopes. They will start as favourites against bottom side Falkland at Goldenacre and skipper Keith Morton has been able to name an unchanged team after the win over Carlton.

Fifth placed Watsonians have a Citylets Scottish Cup final and a Murgitroyd national T20 finals day to get ready for on August 20 and August 27.

Tomorrow they are on the road to Glenrothes, Andy McKay, Aman Bailwal and Brendan O’Connell returning.

Carlton take on Sonians in that Scottish Cup final and tomorrow have young Calum Everett coming into the side to face Tayside Group Forfarshire.

SMRH still need another victory to make sure they are safe in the top flight for another year and they are at home to Aberdeenshire.

For the Inverleith meeting Adam McHoul, Matthew Angelini and Hayden Mourits return for the hosts.

And in the Baillie Gifford ESCA Championship leaders RH Corstorphine are away to Maazars Grange II on Sunday while tomorrow their closest rivals Edinburgh are on the road to Dunnikier looking to keep the pressure on.