Prestwick become west history makers

Picture by Donald MacLeod

Prestwick 97 all out (T Fleet 22; A Neill 4-18, H van der Berg 3-21)
Heriot’s 92 all out (S Chauhary 4-20)

Prestwick last night completed a remarkable comeback to become the first team from the west to win the CSL Grand Final.

Having been dismissed by Heriot’s for just 97 at Meikleriggs, Paisley, it looked as if the Eastern Premier champions would become the sixth different team in a row from the east to lift Scottish cricket’s most prestigious club prize. However, the Ayrshire side’s never-say-die attitude, frequently displayed during their triumphant march to the Western Premier title, again revealed itself at the most important moment as they clawed their way back to clinch an astonishing five-win. Coach Andy Tennant said: “It’s a brilliant achievement by the lads. They deserve the success they’ve had this season for the way they have worked and consistently found a way to win. Today was a classic example of that.”

Instead of accepting what looked like an inevitable defeat, the Prestwick bowlers applied the pressure on their rivals from the outset of their reply. Despite some tight bowling, Hayes van der Berg was able to make his way to a composed 21 before being trapped LBW by Mitchell Rao. With the score on 25, Heriot’s were already more than a quarter of the way to their target but the capture of the first wicket inspired Prestwick. A battle of attrition ensued with the Ayrshire side taking wickets at regular intervals while the rival batsmen strived to produce the one meaningful partnership that would surely have swung the match their way. Sachin Chaudhary, Rao’s “spin twin”, became the bowling hero with four key wickets at a cost of just 20 runs as the momentum switched decisively in favour of the Ayrshiremen. A dogged 21 from skipper Keith Morton kept the capital troops in contention but when he was bowled by Fraser Macdonald Prestwick seized their victory chance.

Earlier, Prestwick, who won the Western Premier for the first time seven days earlier playing an attacking brand of cricket all season, had high hopes that they could create another first.

And it was little surprise when, having won the toss, skipper Shahzad Rafiq opted to bat first in the hope of posting a large total to put the Goldenacre troops under pressure.

However, the tactic appeared to backfire spectacularly as Rafiq himself was dismissed for a duck, trapped in front by Adrian Neill, and Prestwick proceeded to lose their way in dramatic fashion. Two further wickets fell with the score stuck on 13 with the dangerous Fazal Jawad the next to go off the bowling of van der Berg. The Warriors batsman, with a reputation for big-hitting, had stroked two boundaries in his 10 but played round a delivery from the former Aberdeenshire all-rounder and had his stumps shattered. Neill then picked up his second wicket, Macdonald, like his captain, departing without scoring as he offered a catch to van der Berg. Worse still followed when Chaudhary, the Ayrshire side’s leading run scorer during their triumphant league campaign, also went cheaply. Scotland spinner Mark Watt was the man to strike, trapping Chaudhary in front with his first delivery of the match. At 26 for 4, Prestwick were in dire danger of being completely humiliated though a battling partnership between Ross Paterson and Tom Fleet offered renewed hope. The pair added 43 runs without ever threatening to take the game away from their rivals and progress was slow as they sensibly attempted to rebuild the innings. Patterson made 19 with one boundary before he became Neill’s third victim while Fleet top-scored with 22 before falling shortly after, caught off van der Berg. However, both batsmen fell within the space of a few balls and the last five Prestwick adding just 27 runs between them as the men from the west were bundled out for 97.