It’s Aberdeenshire Cup Final time on Sunday at Mannofield. Grades veterans Mike Philip and Ian Sutherland will be the men in the middle in charge of the 1pm start as AGSFPs look for part one of a league and cup double. Gordonians lost against Inverurie in the final in 2019, and skipper Jamil Shaikh will be looking to go one better as they take on a fearsome AGSFPs side who include the only 4 Grade 1 batsmen averaging over 50. Rob Swiergon, Fraser Proud and Karan Anand have been hard to dismiss this season, and whilst their bowlers have shared the wickets around, they have always got the job done. Chamila Perera tops the Grade 1 wicket taking, but he will need someone else to do some damage if Gordos are to pull off a surprise.
If the forecast for Saturday is correct, teams may well be studying Rule 11.3 to see how they get some sort of game completed. Games cannot be shortened once they have started, but the rain calculator will kick in once 20 overs of the 2nd innings are completed. If rain is likely, Captains may agree to shorten a game by multiples of 5 overs as long as they play at least 20 overs a side. If games go ahead, many eyes will be on Rubislaw as leaders AGSFPs face 3rd placed Knight Riders. Knight Riders have lost 4 league games, but all have been very close, and they would be expected to make Grammar work hard for the points. Grammar anticipate being at full strength as they warm up for the Aberdeenshire Cup Final.Bon Accord face Master Blasters at Links, and whilst Bons would be strong favourites, Master Blasters are in such a precarious position that they may welcome an underdog’s chance of a glorious victory. Fourth place Cults host Siyapa at Allan Park. Cults can’t win the league but mid table security will be a relaxing feeling for them, one that Siyapa are not familiar with, as they hover above the relegation spots by a minimal percentage. Inverurie and Gordonians have opened up a gap from the bottom 3 that should make them both safe from relegation, and they play on the artificial at Countesswells, a venue that should deliver decent bonus points for the losing team. Gordos include Indy Pandit and Chamila Perera who drop down from 1st team involvement last Saturday. The Grampian versus Crescent match has moved from Sheddocksley to Groats Road, and at least the pitch won’t be a worry for the batters. Grampian desperately need a win to avoid potentially playing their 2nds in Grade 2 next season.
In Grade 2, the forecast suggests more chances of play at Fraserburgh as 2nd AGSFPs travel up, and Methlick might dodge the rain as they host near neighbours Ellon. The Portcullis v Mannofield game at Duthie Park could be a challenge in terms of starting, but if it does, Portcullis may well fancy their chances. Phil Wood is included in the Mannofield line up for his first league game of the season.
Grade 3 leaders 2nd Grampian would expect to overwhelm 2nd Gordonians at Harlaw but Alex Hounsome and Siv Gollakota come in to extend the Gordos batting line up. Banchory haven’t been at full strength recently but should prevail comfortably at home to 2nd Methlick. Dunecht go to youthful Huntly hoping that experience will count for something. The crunch game is at Balmoral as Stonehaven make the drive out to face Crathie. Stonehaven skipper Nathan MacAulay-Dicks is on form and has a very strong side to manage that should be good enough to overcome the benefits of the Crathie local knowledge.
In the SPCU North East Championship, Aberdeenshire host Huntly, their only change from the defeat to Gordonians last weekend being Manu Saraswat replacing Aayush Das. Gordos will have 4 under 16s in their side as they give a top team debut to Shuban Kistareddy at Countesswells against Kinloch. 2nd Stoneywood Dyce head to Forfar to play Strathmore, and whilst the latter have lost forward momentum in the league table lately, they would anticipate picking up full points. Don’t expect any changes to league positions as top plays bottom at Freuchie as Dundee High cross the bridge to Fife. The Arbroath v Perth Doocot match could be a tight game, and Falkland are at Forthill on Sunday to play Forfarshire 2nds.
Stoneywood Dyce had a sensational result at RH Corstorphine last Sunday in the Eastern Premier League. Bowled out for 82 on a poor wicket, they only used George Ninan and Jamie King as bowlers, both taking 5 wickets apiece to skittle RHC for 43. The forecast for Edinburgh on Saturday is worse than that for Aberdeen, so the SDCC trip to Stewarts Melville might not happen, depriving Stew Mel of a chance to jump off the bottom of the table at the expense of Meigle, who would be 2nd favourites as they host Carlton. League leaders Heriots play Watsonians, Grange host Arbroath, and Forfarshire take on RHC at Forthill, the rain likely to wash out the full EPL programme.