Skipper Steve Knox is preparing to lead a new-look Heriot’s side into the opening match of the Scottish club cricket season tomorrow.
National Cup sectional ties help usher in the campaign with Heriot’s, the last Capital outfit to lift the trophy back in 2000, listing up to seven players who were either playing elsewhere in 2011 or taking a sabbatical from the game.
Knox wintered in Whangarei, New Zealand, where he averaged around 50 with the bat in district cricket and also took advantage of contacts to invite teenage wicketkeeper/batsman Bradley Kneebone to fill an overseas amateur role.
Kneebone makes his debut tomorrow against Ferguslie at Goldenacre alongside Kevin McLaren and Cam Farrell, the club’s new coach, who have returned from Dunfermline as well as David Ross, who is back from a spell at RH Corstorphine.
In addition, Neil Wicks has moved over from Grange while Ali Farouk and Akshay Phale are both returning from a spell out.
Ex-Saltire Knox, now happily recovered from a back complaint which hampered his recent contributions in Scotland, said: “I knew Bradley was keen to experience overseas conditions and what convinced me he could do a job with Heriot’s was the 100 he made when we were opening for Northland against Bay of Plenty in a district match.
“With Simon Smith returning to Grange and Gav McIntyre’s availability patchy due to family commitments, there was an opening behind the stumps and Neil Wicks can provide back-up.”
Others who will come into the frame when injuries clear up are ex-Scotland seamer Craig McKellar while Qasim Ashraf is also laid up at present and Peter Ross could struggle for game time between returning from university in England and heading off to Australia with Scotland for the Under-20 World Cup.
Familiar faces in the Heriot’s ranks tomorrow are Keith Morton, Sean Weeraratna and Andre van Niekerk. In the same section, Edinburgh Accies are hoping to have new overseas amateur Kyle Blanchard available for the trip to Stirling County.
Blanchard, a top order batsman/wicketkeeper, joins with experience of representing New Zealand provincial side Counties Manakau while turning out for Weymouth and also in the Devon League more recently during the Northern Hemisphere summer.
However, Accies will be hampered on the opening weekend by a club tour to Cardiff which was arranged when it was expected the domestic season would be a week later in getting underway.
League champions, Carlton, have prepared well with warm-up fixtures against Watsonians and Irishmen North Down. These clashes highlighted the emerging talent of left arm spinner Chayank Gosain who makes a senior competitive debut against Poloc at Grange Loan after taking five wickets for 19 runs in a win over ’Sonians. New coach Toby Bailey (formerly of Northants) joins Saltires Fraser Watts, Preston Mommsen, Gordon Drummond and Steve Gilmour at the top of the order.
Stuart Chalmers takes the reigns as Watsonian captain and has handed debuts to former under-19 cap Andy Hislop (formerly of Greenock/Clydesdale) and Scottish- born seamer Shaun Wilkie with Saltires’ hired hand Jean Symes expected next week.
Grange await Renfrew while SMRH and RH Corstorphine are at, respectively, Clydesdale and West.