Return of skipper and keeper boost Grange

Neil McCallum will be looking for runs. Pic: Kate Chandler
Neil McCallum will be looking for runs. Pic: Kate Chandler
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Mazars Grange look set to have experienced duo Neil McCallum and Simon Smith available again when they play their first home match of the CSL Eastern Premier Division season tomorrow.

Skipper McCallum and wicketkeeper Smith missed the opening day defeat at Arbroath last Saturday, but are due back for the visit of Stoneywood-Dyce to Portgower Place.

They will both add something to the batting line up that was exposed a little at Lochlands as they were bowled out for 154 chasing 169 to win.

And Smith, who will continue as strength and conditioning coach to the national side under new head coach Grant Bradburn, is one of the best in the league behind the stumps.

Andrew Brock, the vice-captain who was in charge last week, said: “It will be good to have Neil and Simon back because any time experienced and quality players like that come into your side you get a boost.

“It is also good to have our first home game of the season because we all love playing there and it is a great place to play your cricket. This is the first of a run of home games on the trot with others in the league, Scottish Cup and Masterton T20 to come, so we are looking forward to the coming weeks.

“Last week at Arbroath, without Gordon Goudie and Chris Sole able to bowl due to slight injuries, we were a bit light on seam options, but the bowling unit dug in well to restrict them to 168. Raj Routray and Henry Philip, playing in first league match in a couple of years, in particular did well.

“With the bat we could have perhaps done with a couple more experienced players in our line-up to help us over the line, but credit to Arbroath, they are defending champions and tough to beat on their own ground. It is only one game gone and we are upbeat about the season ahead.”

The likely return of McCallum and Smith makes competition for places interesting, with 13 or 14 players pushing for a spot in the starting XI.

Philip, who returned figures of 4-52 last week on his return to competitive cricket, may miss out having hurt his shoulder whilst batting in the nets at training this week, but Grange will still have a strong team out.

Stoneywood-Dyce travel to the Capital for the second time in seven days, last week having beaten Watsonians at Myreside. Their skipper Michael Leask is a man in form and a real talent.

Elsewhere tomorrow Heriot’s, the only local side to win on the opening day, are on the road to Aberdeenshire. In an amazing match at Goldenacre last weekend they were bowled out for 88 by Autoecosse Forfarshire before Uli Jooste took five wickets to see the opponents skittled out for 60. Aberdeenshire too started with a win and after Chris Venske made 137 Heriot’s will be keen to get him out early at Mannofield.

In the Capital derby at Grange Loan, SMRH skipper Cedric English will take on his former side Carlton, while Watsonians are on the road to Autoecosse Forfarshire.

Holy Cross will bid to continue their good start in the Baillie Gifford ESCA Championship when they host Edinburgh South at Arboretum. Last week Shannon Bonfield and Raja Javed both took three wickets as Holy Cross bowled out West Lothian for 91 to help them defend their own low total of 105.

Murrayfield DAFS are at home to Stuart&Stuart Penicuik with RH Corstorphine hosting Mazars Grange II.

Carlton II are on the road to Freuchie with West Lothian at Glenrothes.