Carlton skipper Fraser Watts will warn his side of the danger posed by Watsonian pinch-hitter James Easton before the teams meet at Grange Loan tonight in the annual Murgitroyd Masterton Trophy final.
Back in 2003 Easton hit a remarkable 95 off 56 balls as ‘Sonians claimed the trophy for the first time in 23 years by hammering Penicuik and as his maiden league century in 2011, against Heriot’s, showed the man who once scored a try at Murrayfield in a Scottish rugby cup final has lost none of his cricketing abilities.
Watts said: “Watsonians have a lot of talent in their side including James Easton and both Stuart and Euan Chalmers (no relation). But there is depth to our squad as shown when Grange were beaten in the semi-final earlier this week.
“Rob Thornton is our short game specialist and he’ll be a key player for us – as will James Easton for Watsonians.”
Compared with the side which defeated Grange there is one change in Carlton’s line-up. Nick Martin drops out and Preston Mommsen returns to a side which has claimed the trophy four times in six years.
“I don’t think there is more pressure on us having won so often,” insists Watts.
Watsonians have still to finalise their line-up but captain Stuart Chalmers knows what has to be done to ease the Carlton’s grip on the trophy.
“If James Easton can get himself in and survive the first couple of overs then he is always likely to be dangerous. James is likely to open our batting and Dewald Nel is someone who can hit the ball well from the off. So, if these two get runs then there is every chance we can overcome a team who have big threats in Preston Mommsen, Fraser Watts, Steve Gilmour and Gordon Drummond.
“I’ve also got a lot of respect for Carlton’s two left-arm seamers, Michael Herdman and John Hutton.”
In what will be Scotland cap Chalmers’ first Masterton final, he is hoping his team carry on where they left off in this week’s semi-final victory over SMRH who lost their last seven wickets for just 14 runs. The final victory margin was 27 runs but Chalmers admitted ‘Sonians had to dig deep for inspiration.
“A lot hinged on removing Cedric English who was going really well for SMRH and once he’d fallen to a combination of myself and Euan Chalmers knew our chances of staying on track for three trophies this season improved a lot.”
That was a reference to how Watsonians sit unbeaten in East Premiership including a three-wicket win over Carlton in this extended format while they have also qualified for the knock-out stages of the Scottish Cup.
Tomorrow brings a trip to play Forfarshire in Broughty Ferry while Sunday sees ‘Sonians heading for Renfrew on Cup duty.
Carlton entertain Heriot’s tomorrow and both teams are in cup action on Sunday, at Clydesdale and East Kilbride respectively. Also in the Premiership tomorrow Barclays Wealth Grange visit Stoneywood-Dyce before returning home to receive Dumfries in the second-tier SCU Trophy.
In East Division One Edinburgh Accies entertain Freuchie while SMRH and RH Corstorphine are at, respectively,West Lothian and Penicuik.