The 2023 season is underway, but predictably the technology of the live scoring system wasn’t underway for very long. Teams have got fairly used to problems arising in the middle of a Saturday afternoon with the system supplied by Australian company Interact, but despite suggestions that more capacity had been built in, the system was down across the continent before 2pm. A number of scorecards and results remain problematic, and the league tables have issues that will require to be rectified.

On to the cricket, and Grade 1 champions Knight Riders started with a defeat at Mannofield. Prem Ballal top scored with 32 and Lokesh Saraswat took 3 wickets to restrict Knight Riders to 194 for 9. An explosive half century from Indy Yahathugoda set the tone for the chase and Rahul Chandu with an unbeaten 43 eased Mannofield to a 7 wicket win. 

Fazal Awan hit his first half century of the season in a tousy affair at Countesswells against Gordonians. Bons were looking good at 70 for no wicket but 15 year old Pranav Gollakota took 6 for 3 to bowl them out for 96. Faced with such a low score to defend, the veteran duo of Malik and Mirza reduced Gordos to 19 for 6 in no time. Rohit Bhide looked to be leading a recovery for Gordos until a suicidal run out sent him back to the pavilion and Gordos collapsed to 59 all out. 

Master Blasters signings from Knight Riders stole the show at Allan Park with Vijay Vijapur taking 5 for 20 to bowl out Cults for 103. Abhinav Kache top scored with 29 as Master Blasters lost 6 wickets in a quick victory romp. 

Perhaps one of the reasons why Grade 1 cricket has become so fractious (other than the lack of independent umpires) is the reduction in post match socialising between teams, but it does mean that the term ‘jug avoidance’ has virtually gone into abeyance, which is just as well for Chris Watson who was out for 95 as Inverurie posted 234 for 6 against Crescent at Links. John Jessiman took 3 for 30 and Fraser Lawrence 3 for 23 to keep Crescent down to 156 for 9. 

Whilst the clubs haven’t been asked to vote on the introduction of coloured clothing yet, AberGreen and Grampian broke away from the traditional whites with plenty of colours on display as they sported a variety of hoodies and jackets at Harlaw. Asif Yusuf took 3 for 29 as Grampian were bowled out for 159, Mynul Nadim topping the batting with 52. AberGreen made it to 137 for 6 when the live stream unfortunately cut out depriving us of a nerve wracking finale. 151 for 7 became 151 for 9 and Yusuf was the batting hero as he took AberGreen to victory with 7 balls to spare.

AGSFPs installed themselves as firm favourites to win Grade 2 with a demolition of promoted Huntly at Rubislaw. Only extras sneaked into double figures as Huntly were all out for 30 with Prasanth Poosappadi helping himself to 5 for 11. A quick 25 from Alex Keith finished the game off in the 8th over.

A second career century from Sam Rotheram was the highlight at Burnett Park as Banchory won by 204 runs against 2nd AberGreen. Opener Will George was out for 69 with the score on 189 for 2, but Rotheram was already in dominating form as they hit 275 for 4 off their 40 overs, Rotheram 125 not out. The reply never got going and Ian Davies took 3 for 10 to leave 2nd AberGreen 71 all out.

Owen Thorpe could have done with a bit more support as his 92 took Portcullis to a respectable 156 for 7 at Fraserburgh, but he was one of the victims for Usman Shirzad who had figures of 4 for 15. Cory Bowie paced the Fraserburgh reply excellently carrying his bat for an unbeaten 87 and a 6 wicket win with 9 balls in hand. Jonathan Barrett started off where he has left off since the 1980s as his 76 was the bedrock of the Ellon total of 151 with skipper Matt Sandham adding a useful unbeaten 33. Ben Webb took 5 for 18 to bowl out 2nd AberGreen for 71.

An undefeated 56 from Adam Veersema took Methlick to 164 for 6 at Groats Road against 2nd Knight Riders for whom Bino Zachariah delivered 4 wickets for 41. Kirankumar Chaudhary made it to 50 for 2nd Knight Riders but was left high and dry as Jamie Jones tidied up the tail to give Methlick a 31 run win.

In Grade 3 Nathan Macaulay-Dicks led from the front for Stonehaven at Dunecht scoring 28 for their 50 runs. Dunecht made heavy work of overhauling this total, Nigel King picking up 4 for 9 as 7 wickets fell before the points headed to Dunecht. 

2nd Gordonians were all out in the 40th over at home to Crathie, Yash Yarasani top scoring with 46 out of their 228. Lloyd Belton took 4 wickets for Crathie and followed this up with a belligerent 130 as they eventually secured victory with 8 wickets down. The Sunday game at Mannofield for the 2 new teams, 2nd Mannofield and 2nd Master Blasters, was rained off.

In the SPCU North East Championship, other than a return to batting form from Richard Rennie with 42, Aberdeenshire encountered minimal resistance at Forthill as they bowled out 2nd Forfarshire for 76 with Findlay Anderson picking up 3 cheap wickets. Shire lost 4 wickets in reply, but Lewis Munro was in a hurry with an unbeaten 46 to win the game in the 14th over.

Adi Mehta top scored for Gordonians at Huntly with 35 out of their 120 all out, Jordan Squire taking 3 for 19. When 14 year old Rudra Chouksey removed Jack Mitchell for a 2nd ball duck it seemed like game on, but this just set up a blistering assault from Jay-Dee Oliver who was 95 not out as he took Huntly to a 7 wicket win. If Oliver can bat like this every week then Huntly will be strong title contenders.

Arbroath United had 4 batters pass the half century mark as they amassed 328 for 7 at home to Freuchie. Ryan Plomer took out the Freuchie top 5 as they were all out for 98. Joel Rush didn’t set the heather on fire with the bat for Dundee High last season, but the overseas amateur scored 129 for his new club as Perth Doocot totalled 270 for 5 at home to Kinloch. Kinloch responded with 138 all out. The Strathmore v 2nd Falkland game was a victim to localised heavy rain.

Stoneywood Dyce couldn’t repeat their hot start to the 2022 Eastern Premier League season as they faced Heriots at People’s Park. They wouldn’t have expected Gavin Main to open or Adrian Neill batting at number 3, but neither made any runs of note as others stepped up to take Heriots to 242 for 9. Other than Shaun Coetzer with 36, none of the Stoneywood Dyce batters got past 10 as the Heriots bowlers displayed a knack of hitting the top of off stump as SDCC were all out for 83 in the 26th over.

You can’t afford 3 run outs if you are going to maximise your batting opportunities, and that’s what Meigle did as they were bowled out for 179 by Carlton in 43 overs. An unbeaten century from Daniel Da Costa saw Carlton cruise to an 8 wicket win. 

Falkland laboured to 101 all out in 46 overs at home to RH Corstorphine with former Shire bowler Aayush Das taking 4 wickets. RHC won by 7 wickets. Dylan Budge was back with a bang for Grange as he took 4 wickets to dismiss Stewart’s Melville for 147. Grange won by 6 wickets. The Watsonian v Forfarshire match was rained off.