Stonehaven Thistle 1st XI travelled to face last year’s league runners up Cults at Allan Park Stadium and having lost the toss were immediately asked to stand the test of facing one of the best bowling line ups in the league.
New recruit and Grade select opener Forbes started proceedings but STCC skipper and opening bat Milroy paid little heed to title and drove the second ball of the day for a maximum.
After a juicy 13 from the first over, courtesy of a 5 run penalty when the ball struck a lonely helmet, Cults openers Forbes and Kuraba quickly tightened the reins. However Milroy and Donald remained patient, waited for the bad ball and moved the score on steadily.
Javaid changed his bowlers and Meghani had Milroy well caught by the impressive fielder Gillanders, the skipper departing for a well played 29 with 66 on the board in the 16th over. Donald remained firm but McEleraney’s stumps were undone by Javaid for 0 and the league’s best bowler of 2010 did for Dave Crozier also, LBW the next ball.
Donald remained unmoved. Campbell soon followed to Javaid’s timber destroying accuracy for 6 and Cults were sensing Thistle’s tight start unravelling quickly, now 85 for 4 from 18 overs.
Javaid was again chasing successive victims and found Balsille’s edge immediately, only for Debo in slips to fumble low down; the price unknown at the time was to be a high one.
Donald and Balsillie would share a partnership of 74 runs, finally broken 22 overs later when Donald, the anchor of the STCC innings was finally wretched from the crease by a Meghani shooter. He had however a studious but equally magnificent 89 runs to his name, failing through fatigue he claims whilst accelerating towards his maiden Thistle century.
The score now on 164 in the 40th over Thistle looked to drive on through the remaining overs but the umpire’s finger saw Gardiner walk for 1 and Javaid had 4 wickets.
Balsille was now joined by Milne and the two big men started hitting hard. Balsillie hit consecutive 6’s from Forbes before being caught behind attempting the hat trick, a marvellous contribution of 39 runs. Milne also hit the perimeter fence and supported by Findlay saw the visitors to 199 for 7, from 45 overs when a satisfied skipper called a halt to the first innings. After all, the aroma of hot sausage rolls was tantalisingly wafting from the Cults oven.
So, 200 runs on the nose were required by the home side, a good score but was it enough on a ground known for its high totals? Findlay thought not! Sree was in no mood to follow the precedence of aligning with a run rate and attacked from the off, Findlay’s 1st ball may have hit the boundary but his last was interrupted by the single hand of Crozier at mid on and Sree was gone. In his next over the youngster turned Debo square with a straighter and the umpire’s finger saw Debo return for 0.
Clive Hinchcliffe winkled out the stubborn Spearman for 5 and Cults were reeling at 11 for 3. The cricketing statesman Gillanders took to the crease but soon lost another partner, with Vicky turning a catch to a grateful Gardiner. Findlay finishing his spell with 3-31.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, cometh Balsillie and a superb spell of seam bowling, with Rain being the first victim, castled on 15. Gillanders the key to the match kept scoring.
Skipper Javaid took to the crease and while contemplating an LBW appeal from spinner Campbell was swiftly stumped by Milroy. 75 for 7, Gillanders kept scoring but was about to quickly run out of partners as Balsille rolled back the years.
The remaining four Cults batsmen were all removed to a virtually unplayable sequence of deliveries. Sawant managed to get his pads in the way whilst Forbes, Meghani and finally Kuruba all had their timbers plucked.
The bold Gillanders was left stranded on 56 not out, with Cults dismissed for 127. Balsille returned 5 wickets, 4 maidens for 16 runs from his inspired 8.3 overs. A 72 run Thistle win against the odds book, a great team effort built on the back of Donald and Balsille’s fine performances.
Match Sponsor was The Station Hotel.
Stonehaven 199 for 7
Cults 127 all out