Ultimate cricketing all-rounder Gregor Maiden revealed the motivation behind a stunning Mazars Grange victory over Eastern Premiership leaders Aberdeenshire as determination to avoid near humiliation inflicted by the same opponents earlier in the season.
When the teams met in the Granite City, Grange found themselves 11-7 at one stage before reaching 116 on the way to defeat.
Maiden, one of the few players in history to have batted, bowled and kept wicket at international level, for Scotland, said: “There were certainly a few people keen to avoid what happened last time although playing a team at the top of any league should be sufficient motivation.”
A target of 145 set by Grange didn’t appear particularly daunting but what Shire, who ended up grateful that second place Arbroath were rolled over by Watsonians, hadn’t bargained on was a devastating spell of seam bowling by Nick Farrar.
Scotland Under-19 cap Farrar, now 20 and recipient of a cricket scholarship to Australia in 2012, returned figures of 5-26 in 8.3 overs to rip the heart out of Aberdeenshire, who were all out for 115.
Maiden said: “Nick got their pro out with his first delivery and never looked back.
“On a fairly dead pitch he almost got the ball to talk. He was virtually unplayable.
“Nick has been at university in England for much of the season but he certainly took his chance.”
In fact, Farrar had only claimed three wickets in his five previous league matches but has now staked a strong claim for a place in the side which, on Sunday, will contest the Scottish Cup Final with Clydesdale.
One player who does not expect to be there in spite of claiming two catches and a stumping on Saturday is Maiden.
“I decided to take a back seat but always insisted I wouldn’t see Grange stuck if they wanted me to turn out.”
Now 35 and in the twilight of a glittering career which included a spell with Lancashire, Maiden added: “George Munsey was playing with Scotland and so too was Simon Smith who is part of the conditioning staff while Andrew Brock was at a wedding.
“When the call came I was happy to do my bit but I won’t be putting my name forward for cup final selection.
“As for the team trying to develop a bit of momentum going into that final I don’t think that was too relevant against Aberdeenshire because our cup form has been so much better this season than in the league.
“We always seem to find something extra for the cup albeit not having played Clydesdale for a while makes this final hard to predict.”
Watsonians’ win at Arbroath was “probably our best performance of the season” according to skipper Ewan Chalmers.
Arbroath were bowled out for 69 with the wickets shared between Stuart Chalmers (five), Paddy Saddler (three) and Tom Cullen (two) and there was irony in the hosts winning the toss and electing to bat.
“I actually think I might have done the same in batting first,” admitted Chalmers, who added: “I was especially pleased for Stuart as he’s been recovering from a broken cheekbone.”
Andy Learmonth (16) and Andy Hislop (42 not out) put on 56 for the first wicket and the latter declared: “It was one of those days where not only did every chance stick but James Easton pulled off two brilliant catches fielding at slip and gully.”
In the Capital derby at Grange Loan, Heriot’s proved too strong for a Carlton side whose early season batting woes re-surfaced apart from a spirited 57 not out from Alex Rajendran.
Cam Farrell had 50 in a Heriot’s total of 196 but Mark Watt (5-30) spun the visitors to a 23-run victory.
At Inverleith SMRH claimed their third victory of the season in completing a double over Stoneywood Dyce.
However, they remain anchored at the foot and even with second bottom Forfarshire losing to Forfar it will be a tall order to make up the difference on the final day next weekend due to an inferior run-rate.
Nevertheless, SMRH can take heart when visiting Grange from five of their bowlers claiming a brace of wickets against Stoneywood Dyce.