Cricket season begins with local teams eyeing the silverware
The CSL Eastern Premier Division cricket season gets underway this Saturday with six Capital teams in the league of ten aiming to lift the silverware come August.
Mazars Grange are the reigning champions and look like the ones to beat again while 2017 champions Heriot’s, Carlton, RH Corstorphine, Stewart’s Melville and Watsonians are also in the top flight.
They are joined in the league by Aberdeenshire, Arbroath, Forfarshire and newcomers Stoneywood-Dyce.
With the regional series starting on Sunday and Scotland matches coming up in May there is plenty to play for this weekend as club players look to impress to break into the Eastern Knights squad and the national set-up.
Last year Grange won the league, the Scottish Cup and the Grand Final against Ferguslie and although Neil McCallum has retired the return of Scotland batsman George Munsey to the club from rivals Watsonians will help fill that void.
Preston Mommsen will again skipper the team and player/coach John Blain said ahead of the home opener with Forfarshire: “The guys are really looking forward to the next few months after a good season in 2018.
“We still have an experienced core to our team, but again we will look to blood exciting, young players into the XI when the timing is right and look forward to seeing them flourish at this level.
“I expect the league to be hard fought this year and hope that some cracking cricket is played.”
Seam bowler Connor Shorten is likely to feature more for Grange this term having struggled with injuries in 2018 while James Dickinson, who is on the cusp of Scotland honours, is also set to turn out more regularly having moved back north.
Heriot’s, who lost in the Scottish Cup final to Grange in September, are led by Keith Morton again and they have managed to bring in Joe Kinghorn-Gray from RH Corstorphine as a player/coach. Another seamer, Callum Stuart, has also joined and Morton said: “The key thing for us was keeping the core of the squad together and trying to build on it. Bringing in Joe and Callum is great for us as is having overseas players Hayes van der Berg and Elnathan Meiri back, we are looking forward to the season.”
Carlton have South African Corne Dry coming is an overseas player, but he will miss at least the first game before arriving on these shores.
They have been boosted by the arrival of ex-Scotland coach Pete Steindl as club coach while new players such as Will Hardie and Charlie Maxwell will be looking to push for first XI selection.
Majid Haq is now RH Corstorphine captain after Kinghorn-Gray left the club and they are excited to see how Mohammad Saad from Pakistan does this summer.
Steven Parker will be in charge of Stewart’s Melville this term and they have managed to add Ben Wilkinson to their batting ranks after he left Glenrothes.
Youngster Patrick Ritchie has also moved across from Grange.
Mike Carson has taken up the captaincy at Watsonians and key to their season is going to be how they deal with the loss of a number of experienced players such as Ewan Chalmers, Dewald Nel, Brendan O’Connell and Grange-bound Munsey.
South African Malusi Siboto will lead the bowling attack while others such as Josh Stinson have been recruited.
Meanwhile, the ESCA Championship gets underway this weekend too with the pick of the games looking to be new boys Heriot’s II making the trip to Roseburn to play Murrayfield DAFS.
The action in seven ESCA regional leagues also begins in the coming days.