Covid cloud hangs over Scottish cricket

League cricket is back…unless you play in the Glasgow area or Huntly. A Covid-19 cloud will hang over Scottish cricket this season with infection numbers being checked as regularly as league tables. Travel restrictions relating to the Level 3 tier status in Moray have deprived Huntly of some of their players and their SPCU NE Championship match against Stoneywood Dyce and their Grade 3 match against Dunecht have been postponed. Hopefully Huntly will be back on the field next weekend. Spare a thought for all the WDCU clubs who have had this weekend declared null and void and may well have a similar issue for the following weekend.

A number of Scottish Cup ties due to be played on Sunday involving WDCU clubs have also been postponed and administrators will be hoping they don’t have difficult decisions to make around the viability of national senior cups.

Grades cricket returns with Grade 1 champions Bon Accord at Allan Park to face new club Master Blasters Aberdeen. Recent flooding and vandalism mean that Allan Park is not the picture postcard venue of old, but hopefully the pitch will allow decent cricket to be played. A better pitch will be on show at Kellands Park as Inverurie host Gordonians. Experience will be very much at the helm in captaincy terms as Trevor Norval will lead a strong Inverurie side, and Jamil Shaikh will be hoping to show the way for Gordonians with the ball. A full strength Inverurie will certainly be amongst the favourites to win Grade 1.

Match of the day could be at Groats Road as Knight Riders welcome AGSFPs. Both have been in and around the title shake up in recent years and this will be a keenly contested game. Siyapa are due to play Cults at Sheddocksley but with precious little sunshine and a forecast of rain for Friday it will be an anxious pitch inspection. The pitch at Links generally drains well so the Crescent against Grampian match should reach a conclusion.

Grades cricket rarely sets spikes on the ground at Mannofield, but with Aberdeenshire contracting to 2 Saturday sides, Fraserburgh are the first Grade 2 team to visit the hallowed turf. Indy Yahathugoda skippers the home side and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he headed up a run fest. Stoneywood Dyce host 2nd Knight Riders at Harlaw and Methlick visit 2nd AGSFPs at Rubislaw. Thanks go to Ellon for receiving Portcullis at short notice as the pitch at Duthie Park doesn’t look ready for  play.

Grade 3 looks like it will be very competitive this season and the Stonehaven against Crathie match will be a good indicator as to how the top of the table may look in September. Banchory would expect to be in the mix as well and they travel to Lairds to play 2nd Methlick. 2nd Grampian go to Countesswells to play 2nd Gordonians and Dunecht have had their match with Huntly rearranged to July.

The SPCU NE Championship will be a little bit different in 2021 as overseas players are unlikely to be involved. Gordonians host a very strong and resurgent Strathmore, boosted by the signings of Sami Ejaz and Haydn Evans from Dundee High. Gordonians will be hoping for runs from the on form Aman Arora and Himanshu Saraswat. Aberdeenshire travel to Forfar and captain Kenny Reid will be looking to the likes of Lewis Munro and the Elliott brothers to make inroads into the Kinloch batting. The Eastern Premier League will also lack the usual host of hired overseas guns and any of the Scotland internationals who will be self isolating as they return from the 2 match series against the Netherlands. Stoneywood Dyce begin their campaign at home to Meigle who have a familiar look other than the addition of the Rasheed brothers who have moved from Dundee High. Both are big hitters and quick bowlers and if either fire then Jamie King will need all his captaincy skills to get a result for the home side. Falkland visit the airport ground for a Scottish Cup tie on Sunday and it would be a surprise if the home side didn’t progress. Aberdeenshire have an unenviable trip to Gala in the Cup.