It is accepted throughout sport as one of the oldest motivational tools, and the good old newspaper cutting pinned to the dressing-room wall once again turned up trumps for Barclays Grange in an Eastern Premier Division cricket victory over local rivals Carlton at Raeburn Place.
Goodness knows what will happen if the digital era completely takes over – ipads on the noticeboard, perhaps? – but Grange vice captain Andrew Brock was in no doubt about the inspirational qualities of a Saturday morning headline in our sister paper The Scotsman which declared: “Carlton looking to tighten grip at top by crushing Grange”.
Said Brock: “Our president, Bobby Frazer, made sure a cutting was pinned up on the wall before we went out to play.
“I’ve no doubt it was our inspiration.” What also helped, of course, was having a bowler of the calibre of Raj Routray whose pace and swing exploited a green tinge on the wicket to remove all four Carlton batsmen before rain set in leaving Grange ahead by 18 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis calculation.
Routray’s victims were Kyle Macpherson, Hamish Gardiner, Preston Mommsen and Rory McCann leaving Fraser Watts and Gordon Drummond to try stabilise the innings and push on for a winning total of 227.
Ultimately, Watts was on 12 and Drummond on 20 when stumps were drawn at 95-4 and it would have been fascinating to see whether that pair, who had put on 38, could have used their vast experience to turn the tide (no pun intended).
“Overall, I think we did enough to justify the win but the damp ball was getting a bit difficult to control and, I have to admit, Fraser and Gordon were just starting to get on top,” admitted Brock.
However, he also insisted: “Raj Routray was pretty much responsible for a win that keeps us in with a chance of the title.
“If we had lost we’d have too much to do over the last five matches whereas we now have a boost for not only the league but Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi-final at home to Arbroath.
“We felt any score above 200 would have been competitive and.” Indeed, Grange stood 119-5 in the 37th over with George Munsey, Ryan Flannigan, Neil McCallum, Zander Muir and Josh Edwards all out.
Cue some pinch hitting by Gregor Maiden (28), Simon Smith (27), Iain Worth (14) and Gordon Goudie, who top scored with 38 before being caught in the deep.
“With wickets in hand, we always have a chance to bump up our total towards the end of an innings” said Brock who, in keeping with the spirit of the rivalry, was full of praise for 17-year-old Carlton off-spinner Fraser Allardice, who, had their been a man-of-the-match award, would have vied with Routray, who was part of a three-pronged pace attack also featuring Goudie and Edwards.
Allardice took 3-22 including clean bowling Muir and Maiden with Brock remarking: “I’ve seen Fraser opening the bowling and also entering the attack at the death and, as an off- spinner that is easier said than done. He was very effective.”
The sight of such potential on both sides – Carlton had to leave out Chayank Gosein to rest a slight strain ahead of representative duties this week – helped ease frustrations at the premature close and, although Arbroath have leapfrogged back to the top as a consequence of beating Heriot’s by 174 runs at Goldenacre, the title race is very much on.
Heriot’s defeat may have been comprehensive but, once again, 17-year-old Mark Watt proved his worth with three wickets which keep him on top of the bowling stats and set him up for a good week with Scotland under-19s at the European Championship qualifiers.
Elsewhere, Watsonians underlined their revival by defeating SMRH under the D/L calculation, aided by an unbeaten 103 from James Easton.
A target figure of 286-5 was comfortably Sonians’ highest of the campaign and, at 149-6 in reply, SMRH were 27 runs short of requirement although they would be pleased to see Brayden Tracey return to form by hitting 60.
In the First Division, RH Corstorphine proved too strong for Penicuik with Reuben Hattingh (70 not out), Richard McCorkell (60) and Cam Leeder (60) all among the runs.
Kris Steel had a captain’s innings of 59 not out for Penicuik but they were still 28 runs short under the D/L.