Too early for Grades title deciders and relegation 6 pointers? You can’t win the title in May, but things can start to go right or wrong early doors, and this Saturday throws up numerous interesting games. 

In Grade 1 Bon Accord have been in excellent form, led as usual by the Awan, Malik, Mirza trio, but if their title credentials are to be put under pressure this season, Master Blasters may well be the ones to do it as they visit Links. Their Aberdeenshire Cup match was rained off last Sunday and has been rearranged to May 28th.  

Gordonians and Inverurie could be in the top half chasing pack, but both have already lost to Bons and they meet at Countesswells. George Hadden and Matt Startin start for Inverurie, but Fraser Lawrance, Mark Strachan and Stuart Murrison are missing. Gordonians have 3 of their overall 4th team making Grade 1 debuts and will be looking for Ashfaq Bashir to continue his excellent bowling start to the season. 

Champions Knight Riders will be looking for a first win as they welcome Grampian to Groats Road.

Cults head to the international ground to take on Mannofield who are without Indy Yahathugoda but have former SPCU title winners Will Anderson and Rene Van Oorschot in a very strong line up. 

Crescent are at Harlaw to face AberGreen with both teams trying to avoid a prolonged relegation dogfight.

It’s a Duthie Park away match for Portcullis as 2nd AberGreen are in charge of the teas with a game switched from an originally planned berth at Inverdee.

Fraserburgh v Ellon matches are always eagerly anticipated but the hosts are missing the collective talents of Michael Watson and Ryan Duthie.

The AGSFPs title march resumes at Rubislaw against 2nd Grampian who won’t go down without a swing. Grammar looked a bit light on bowling last weekend at Banchory, but they may get by without Geoff Morrison having to turn his arm over this Saturday.

Methlick have got the cheque book out to move their match from the still very damp and unplayable Lairds to Inverurie. Tim Duffy will be back as they look to burst the newly inflated Huntly bubble. 

Banchory have made an impressive start to proceedings and they would be hopeful that they can overcome 2nd Knight Riders at Burnett Park. 

In Grade 3, 2nd Methlick go to Allan Park where they would be expected to be on the wrong side of the result against 2nd Master Blasters.

2nd Gordonians will have to stifle the runs of Nathan Macaulay-Dicks if they want to go into cruise control at home to Stonehaven, but they have the experienced guile of Jamil Shaikh at their disposal alongside the slightly less experienced Riyansh Kirodian who isn’t short of attacking shots.

Mark Lambley and Gihan Perera are the star names listed by Stoneywood Dyce who have been without a game for the first 2 weeks, and they are at a resurgent Dunecht.

2nd Mannofield will be in pie heaven as Crathie look to carry on the coronation spirit against another side yet to take a bow this season. Phil Wood and Stuart Horne will be working out the logistics of the 75 minute trip with so many youngsters on parade. 

It’s mouthwatering all round as Aberdeenshire go to SPCU North East Championship title rivals Arbroath, where the cricket on the pitch could be as tasty as the much revered Arbroath teas. Shire will need big performances from the likes of Kenny Reid and Lewis Munro if they hope to win this crunch tie.

2nd Falkland have a long trip to Huntly and it may well be a case of how many losing bonus points they can accumulate. Huntly are without Jordan Squire.

The noon starts in the SPCU are posing problems for Gordonians as the traditional McDonalds stop at Forfar now tends to clash with the breakfast menu. It should be a McWin on the pitch for Gordos against Kinloch. Pranav Gollakota comes in for his Gordos SPCU league debut.

Safyaan Sharif is with Perth Doocot as he heads to his paymasters from last season at Freuchie. Freuchie have Robbie Wright and big hitting Dean Stonehouse available.

Lance Trueman should enjoy batting and bowling at Forthill as Strathmore play 2nd Forfarshire. The question will be whether he gets enough support to influence the result.

Stoneywood Dyce wouldn’t have been expected to win either of their opening matches against 2 of the big Edinburgh teams, but they will have higher expectations as Stewart’s Melville travel up to Aberdeen. Jon Grant is back to lead the bowling with fellow left-armer Connor Shorten doing likewise for Stew Mel.

After an encouraging result against Watsonian last Saturday, Meigle cross the Tay on the way to Falkland. Another victory for Meigle would open up a gap at the foot of the table and set alarm bells ringing at Scroggie Park.

RH Corstorphine (with Aayush Das back) face a tough tie at home to Forfarshire, Watsonian will need to up their batting against Heriot’s (who add Scotland keeper Matt Cross) and Carlton will do well to halt the Grange juggernaut. Grange include Gordon Goudie.

The Women’s Premier League gets underway on Sunday with a home fixture at Mannofield for Aberdeenshire’s Northern Lights against Grange Women. The Northern Lights will be without 3 key players from last year’s campaign with Meghan McColl and Ailsa Lister playing for Scotland A in the ECB Women’s T20 competition and Becky Glenn due to work commitments. The team welcomes Emily Henderson (Huntly) and club junior Lucinda Kerr for their Northern Lights debut. With Grange in the process of building their Women’s team the fixture promises to be a closer encounter than last year’s run-away victory for Northern Lights.

Sunday also sees some cup action in the national cups and in the Reid and Bon Accord Cup. The latter are T20 matches with a first try of the use of pink balls. In the Bon Accord Cup the turnstiles will be clicking at Fraserburgh as Banchory make the long trip. Fraserburgh will have to manage without the Bowie brothers but they do list T20 specialist Michael Watson in their named 12. 

Methlick don’t have far to go as they pop to Ellon. A steady innings will be required from someone to split 2 sides that look well matched.

Crathie have a difficult draw in the Reid Cup at Allan Park against 2nd Master Blasters. If they look at things positively then they have first chance at stopping a potential Master Blasters league and cup double.

2nd Mannofield and Stoneywood Dyce meet in the same competition at Mannofield on Thursday.

3 Scottish cup ties fell victim to the weather last Sunday, and these included the Aberdeenshire hike to the borders to play Gala, and Stoneywood Dyce hosting Arbroath. They will try again on Sunday and will be hoping to avoid rain and the prospect of bowl offs or a coin toss. It was noticeable that every encounter last Sunday between teams from the East and the West were won by the EPL sides.