Cricket: Grange press self-destruct to leave title up for grabs

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Grange’s usually solid batting line-up pressed the self destruct button on Saturday as the Stockbridge outfit suffered a shock home defeat to Arbroath and left the Cricket Scotland Eastern Premier Division still wide open.

The 25-run loss in a low-scoring contest coupled with Watsonians’ defeat at home to Stonetwood-Dyce means that those two clubs and Carlton still have a chance to win the regional division come 
September 1.

At Portgower Place, Grange looked on easy street when they put in a great bowling performance to bowl out the visitors for 132.

With the ball it was teenager Duncan Player who took centre stage. The seamer was clearly buoyed by his recent outings for Scotland under-17 as he ran in with confidence in the early part of the afternoon.

He took three wickets – those of Greig Peal, Marc Petrie and Darren Spink – and gave away just 13 runs in the five overs he was given.

It was another up-and-coming young player, George Munsey, who had managed to grab the key wicket of Arbroath pro Harsh Vithana for just 13, Raj Routray taking the catch. After that early loss all the Grange bowlers kept it tight and Ryan Flannigan and Andrew Brock were the men to take scalps along with Player against a fragile batting unit that had been bowled out for 87 by Stoneywood-Dyce seven days previously.

Spinner Brock took 3-14, the former SMRH man getting Jack Plomer, Mark Clark and danger man Calvin Burnett out with seamer Flannigan accounting for captain Fraser Burnett, Benny McGill and Euan Small in taking 3-21.

Plomer’s 27 had been the highest score for Arbroath in the first top-team fixture to be played at flood-hit Portgower Place since June 2.

With the outfield still wet and the ball holding up a bit Grange knew that they would not be able to blast their way to victory in reply, but that calculated batting should see them home safely. It did not start well though when Gregor Maiden was out for six in the fifth over, caught by Peal off the bowling of the experienced McGill.

Three overs later fellow opener Sanjay Patel almost followed him back to the pavilion, but he was dropped at slip by Clark. In the next over Ryan Flannigan got into his stride by hitting a six off Calvin Burnett.

The bowler got his revenge a few overs later, Flannigan hitting a full toss to Fraser Burnett at mid-off and Grange were left on 49-2.

Patel and captain Neil McCallum took things on to 77-2 after 25 overs and with plenty of time left, eight wickets remaining and just 60 more runs needed any betting manu would have backed Grange to coast home to victory.

Cricket is a funny old game though and the introduction of spinner Craig Ramsay by Arbroath changed the game.

He got Patel out for 43 and then had McCallum caught by Small for 16 before Giles Holmes and Munsey both picked up ducks as they were out to another spinner in the shape of Vithana.

That left Grange struggling on 90-6 and when Brock was run-out for just four they were 102-7 in the 36th over and Arbroath could sense victory.

Ramsay then finished things off, claiming the scalps of Arun Pillai, birthday boy Stuart Moffat and Routray and leaving the Grange players shell-shock and McCallum with his head in his hands as he peeked up at a scoreboard showing 107 all out.

Over at Myreside news filtered through to second placed Watsonians that Grange had lost, but they could not take full advantage.

Having made 188 all out themselves batting first they took Stoneywood-Dyce right to the wire, but the men from the north east held on in a nail-biter by winning in the last over with just one wicket remaining.

The two bonus points Watsonians picked up did put them back above Grange at the top though, while Carlton’s match at Aberdeenshire was off and they are third. There are plenty twists and turns to come in the next fortnight that is for sure.

Heriot’s also defeated Forfarshire on Saturday to all but condemn the latter to the drop.

And replacing them looks likely to by SMRH after 57 from Brayden Tracey saw them defeat RH Corstorphine and stay top of the First Division.