Former Scotland internationalist Steve Knox shrugged off a broken finger to guide Heriot’s to a one wicket victory over Mazars Grange in the Eastern Cricket Premiership amidst nail-biting tension at Goldenacre.
While Knox kept his nerve admirably as Heriot’s, set a modest target of 130, began to crumble when their seventh wicket fell on 122, another hero proved to be Ali Farooq.
Farooq only faced one delivery as no fewer than five run-outs threatened to dismantle Heriot’s, but it was a snorter from Scotland cap Gordon Goudie.
Somehow the No.11 managed to not only keep his stumps intact and scramble the ball away to where short leg would have been.
Had Farooq missed – and he later admitted he had no idea where the ball had pitched – Heriot’s would have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for the second weekend running.
Instead, Knox got back on strike with the single and immediately lifted Goudie over mid-wicket for six to finish on 30 not out.
In nine years at Heriot’s, it was Knox’s first win over his former club and typically he was keen to share the credit.
“Ali Farooq’s single was the key run because the ball he received was a beauty,” he said.
“Gordon Goudie was swinging it in and the ball I dispatched to finish the match just happened to be in the right area for me.”
On the Heriot’s collapse – openers David Ross (28) and Uli Jooste (29) had provided a bright start - Knox said: “Players can tend to sit on their bat handle if only three or four are needed for the win.
“Everyone sits back and expects you to hit a boundary, but if singles are there you’ve got to take them. It was about keeping calm and watching the ball.It was a tight finish, but it was always going to be a tight match.
“What pleased me was that after bowling and catching really well and working hard in field, we got a reward. Grange don’t get bowled out for as low a total as 129 very often, so we had to take advantage.”
In the Grange innings, Arun Pillai (25) top-scored for the third week running and Ryan Flannigan hit four boundaries in a brisk 21, although his dismissal typified the visitors’ efforts, with the ball being lofted to a fielder (Cam Farrell) in the deep just as he seemed to be set.
Amidst all this, Farooq bowled six overs for a mere seven runs, snapping up Grange skipper Neil McCallum.
Ultimately it was job done for spirited Heriot’s, but some behind-the-scenes credits are due, especially after Knox admitted they had specifically chosen a pitch which was likely to take spin.
“We thought that a pitch on which the ball turned was our best chance of beating Grange, but what I had hoped was that we could bat first and post around 200,” said Knox.
In fact, it was Grange spinners Andrew Brock and McCallum that brought their side back into the game after Heriot’s had got more than halfway to their target with only the openers back in the pavilion.
McCallum took 2-24 off 11 overs, while Brock finished with 2-29 off 13.
Bringing on the pace of Goudie and seamer Gregor Maiden was easily justifiable with Knox bringing that finger injury into the match, but in the end the target was just too low.
At Inverleith, Watsonians doubled their league win tally in rapid fashion when they dismissed SMRH for 68 and knocked off the runs in only 10 overs.
Delighted captain Ewan Chalmers said: “The big breakthrough came when Paddy Saddler dismissed Cedric English without scoring and their professional [Brad Moses] basically ran out of partners [on 33].
“Dewald Nel had a licence to go for it with the bat and he duly obliged, making an unbeaten 48.”
New off-spinner from St Andrews University Tom Cullen helped himself to three wickets, as did Ewan Chalmers and Saddler for ‘Sonians.
Carlton now find only winless SMRH below them after another disappointing display when going down by 14 runs at home to Falkland.
Fraser Watts contributed 62 and Omar Ahmed took 3-22 on a day Carlton will want to forget going into Saturday’s Myreside derby with resurgent Watsonians.