Grange look to extend long unbeaten knockout record

Grange vice-captain Andrew Brock. Photograph: Toby Williams
Grange vice-captain Andrew Brock. Photograph: Toby Williams
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Mazars Grange bid to extend an impressive record in knockout cricket this weekend when they travel to Poloc for the concluding stages of the annual Murgitroyd Masterton twenty:20 competition.

It is approaching two years since Grange lost a knock-out tie and during that period they have amassed two East T20 trophies as well as the national equivalent and, later this month, they will attempt to defend the Scottish Cup against Clydesdale in the final of the 50 overs-a-side format.

“We’re becoming quite specialised in pink ball cricket,” says vice captain Andrew Brock, who admits there is a twist to Sunday’s opening tie.

“As well as facing Forfarshire in the T20 semi-final for the right to play either Clydesdale or Dumfries we play them tomorrow at Broughty Ferry in the Eastern Premiership.

“It is a strange situation to be facing the same team two days running, but allowing for different formats there is still a chance to take some momentum into T20 finals day.

“Both teams will be looking to size each other up and we know a fair bit about Forfarshire having defeated them in a Scottish Cup tie earlier in the season.

“Then we set a target of 250 and were a bit concerned when Craig Wallace and Matty Parker put on 50 straightaway.

“Fortunately, we managed to break the partnership but there is no doubt they are dangermen.

“Wallace in particular is in cracking form and recently, against SMRH, he hit his second league century of the campaign – 176 not out.”

Grange lie third in the league with three matches remaining and Brock admits: “Realistically, we are not going to catch leaders Aberdeenshire or Arbroath.

“However, we would like to finish top Edinburgh team and third place would be a decent return in a transitional season with a string of young players being introduced.”

Grange have named a squad of 14 as they bid to overcome injury problems.

Chris Sole is already ruled out having dislocated a shoulder in training and there are late fitness tests for Simon Smith and George Munsey, although Scotland cap Neil McCallum is available.

Brock adds: “Losing Chris Sole is a blow. However, Chris’s injury could be a chance for Nick Farrer to show what he can do as first change bowler.”

Elsewhere tomorrow, Heriot’s are hoping Charlie MacLeod, Mark Watt and Cam Farrell will reap benefits of playing in two Scotland trial matches this week when they entertain a Falkland side reinforced by Sayaaf Sharif’s return from Gloucestershire.

SMRH are running out of time if they are to climb off the bottom of the table and a trip to an Arbroath side looking to pile pressure on leaders Aberdeenshire looks daunting.

Returning this weekend for SMRH are Robin Crouch and Craig MacKellar, but the Bissett brothers, Chris and Greig, are absent.

At Grange Loan, Carlton await Watsonians hoping for a little more fortune than when rain denied them an almost certain victory in the reciprocal fixture.

Carlton list the same side that accounted for Grange in their last league outing.

Top game in the East Championship is at Barnton where RH Corstorphine attempt to close the gap on the only team above them in the table – Glenrothes.

Much will depend on Corstorphine’s Cam Leeder, one of only two players to top 600 runs in the league this season, although Glenrothes’ Grame Berghin has a highest score of 181 not out and the Fifers can also field two former Scottish World Cup players in Ryan Watson and Alec Davies.

Coincidentally, it is also third versus fourth as Freuchie entertain Murrayfield DAFS, while Grange 2nds await Holy Cross, Carlton 2’s head for nearby Edinburgh South and Penicuik await West Lothian.