Round 18 of the Grade 1 season didn’t disappoint as another raft of close games were played out. Top of the list of these was the thriller at Mannofield as the hosts faced Bon Accord. With Fazal Awan lbw for 9, Bons slumped to 62 for 4 with Mirza, Malik and Shakeel Ahmed all dismissed. And then the wicket taking dried up as M K Ahmed dominated a century partnership before being run out for 90 with the score moving to 217 for 6. Their eventual 251 for 8 was a remarkable turnaround as Bons clung on to their title hopes. Indy Yahathugoda didn’t hang around as his 31 off 20 balls got Mannofield off to a blistering start. At the end of 35 overs Mannofield were well on track to win with the score on 228 for 7 but it became trickier when John Dickinson was dismissed for 59 without any addition to the total. Rahul Chandu and Abid Ali looked to have it under control as they levelled up the score, but with plenty of balls in hand Malik was the coolest man on the ground as he removed Ali. Indy Yahathugoda picked up the hypothetical spirit of cricket award for this week as he upheld an lbw appeal next ball to leave the match tied.

Gordonians maintained their league challenge as Chamila Perera picked up 5 for 22 to bowl out Knight Riders for 158. Sanjay Vijandiran with 68 topped the scoring for Knight Riders who had looked on course for a better score on 130 for 4. 31 from Ravi Mahajan kept the Gordos run chase on target before the heavens opened and Gordonians won by 2 wickets on the rain calculator.

Master Blasters were under the cosh as they batted first against Crescent. Abhinav Kache made 58 opening the innings but single-figure knocks were more prevalent as Vineet Khanna took 4 for 26 to help bowl them out for 153. The Crescent reply got off to a disastrous start as they lost 2 wickets without making an impression on the scoreboard, and whilst Khanna held the late order together as best he could with an unbeaten 29, Kache had a rare bowl taking 3 for 14 to dismiss Crescent for 127.

AberGreen weren’t able to record a 2nd win of the season even though Muhammad Hassaan made 45 before becoming one of 3 victims for Jordan Thom as Inverurie bowled them out for a decent 167. Thom top scored for Inverurie with 43 as they won by 5 wickets.

No surprise that Mynul Nadim was the top scorer for Grampian with 37 as they were bowled out for 162 by Cults at Allan Park. Grampian were well in the game as they reduced Cults to 67 for 5, but 69 from Ali Gohar more than repaired the damage and they won by 4 wickets with plenty of time in hand.

2nd Knight Riders finished their Grade 2 season with a comprehensive 9 wicket win over 2nd Grampian in a match that illustrated the folly of batting at any level without a helmet. The match was delayed early on as a Grampian batter edged a ball into his face and had to head to hospital. Somu Kumarasamy warmed up for the Aberdeenshire Cup final with 3 for 22 to bowl out Grampian for 86. Vijay Ramaswamy was undefeated on 59 as they won in the 25th over. 

Banchory stayed in contention for a potential promotion position as they beat AGSFPs at Rubislaw although the latter went into the match without the influential Rob Swiergon who had to withdraw due to illness. Will George was yet again the star man with the bat for Banchory as he batted through the innings for 92, Sam Rotheram added the cherry on top of an impressively iced batting cake with a quick 41 to post an impressive 202 for 5. Rotheram then produced his best bowling performance of the season taking 5 for 13 to bowl out AGSFPs for 153. Geoff Morrison top scored with 41 but this wasn’t the dominant AGSFPs batting from earlier in the season. 

Fraserburgh also have a shot at finishing 2nd in the league after a comfortable win over Huntly. Batting first they posted 184 for 9 with Liam Bowie and Paul O’Neill both making half centuries, although a big mention has to go to Lucy Milne who took 5 for 27 for Huntly. The Huntly innings was another one littered with single figure scores as they were bowled out for 116.

All the Portcullis bowlers took a wicket as they bowled out Ellon for 104 and an eventual 5 wicket win as they took their time chasing the score.

In Grade 3 Justin Thomas has been working his way towards a 5 wicket haul and he did so against Crathie at a cost of only 9 runs as they bowled out Dunecht for 66. Only 1 boundary in the Crathie reply of 67 for 5, Peter Cunningham carrying his bat for 35 as NESC Chair Brian Lynas was handed the ball late on for his first bowl of the season and took a wicket. 

3rd Gordonians have been tussling with 2nd Gordonians for weeks for 2nd spot in the table, and they had high hopes of coming away from Stonehaven with maximum points. Congratulations to Naman Maheshwari on his first century as his 105 not out from 100 balls propelled 3rd Gordos to 183 for 6. Vithyaprakash Ramaswamy was unbeaten on 65 not out for Stonehaven when the game was hit by heavy rain and Stonehaven were 4 wicket victors on the rain calculator.

This result allowed 2nd Gordos to jump into 2nd place as they defeated Stoneywood Dyce by 69 runs at Inverdee. A superb bowling performance by Bruce Davidson taking 6 for 23 kept the brakes on the Gordos batters as they were restricted to 141 for 7. Siddharth Seenivasan took 4 for 8 as Gordos worked their way through the Stoneywood Dyce batting line up to bowl them out for 72.

The huge Eastern Premier League relegation game at People’s Park between Stoneywood Dyce and Meigle started to go downhill very quickly for the hosts. With no Tiaan Brits in their side, Meigle had decided to go with an aggressive opening option rather than someone a bit steadier and it really paid off. Zahid Rasheed took advantage of a wayward start by the usually reliable Abdullah Khalid and when Rasheed was out halfway through the 8th over for 30 the score had already rattled on to 59. Most of the Meigle batters made useful contributions and their score of 266 for 9 looked like a comfortable winning total. Ewan Davidson led from the front with 31 but it never looked like Stoneywood Dyce had any hope of getting ahead of the required rate and Adi Hegde picked up 5 cheap wickets to bowl out Stoneywood Dyce for 135. Stoneywood Dyce head back to the SPCU North East Championship and Meigle have to think long and hard about how they avoid another season drifting around the relegation zone in 2024.

In the other EPL games, Stewart’s Melville managed to lose by 1 run at Falkland as they chased 237 and couldn’t get the required 3 runs off the last 2 balls. Heriot’s won the big derby against champions Grange, Peter Ross unbeaten on 93 as they won by 6 wickets. Thomas Pratt took 6 for 10 as Watsonian bowled out RH Corstorphine for 86, somewhat adrift of the 226 Watsonian had made in their innings. Forfarshire bowled out Carlton for 216 and then made hard work of the chase until their late order stepped up with the bat to give them a 2 wicket victory. 

It wasn’t a good day for the City in the SPCU North East Championship. Aberdeenshire had another miserable day with the bat at Forfar as Strathmore bowled them out for 86. Josh Goodwin hit 3 of their 4 boundaries as he top scored with 39. Clark Cameron only made 1 but his resilient knock lasted 42 balls and prolonged the innings into the 30th over. Liam Sweeney was the pick of the Strathie bowlers with 3 for 19. Credit to the Shire bowlers who chipped away with regular wickets but Strathmore won in the 24th over by 3 wickets.

Gordonians reduced 2nd Forfarshire to 135 for 6 in the 25th over, but that’s where their problems began as they only managed to take 1 more wicket in the next 20 overs. Tinotendo Msarara was 55 not out as they set a formidable 250 for 7. Tanish Kirodian made 30 and Adi Mehta 76 as Gordos were bowled out for 194, missing out on the required losing bonus points to stay ahead of Strathmore in the league. Gordos dropped to 8th position.

The Huntly versus Freuchie match was rained off as was the 2nd Falkland v Perth Doocot game, but not before the hosts had been bowled out for 87 and Perth had rushed to 42 as they failed to beat the rain.

Jared Meiring continued his excellent season with a century against Kinloch as Arbroath piled up 284 for 4. Meiring didn’t have to bowl as the rest of the bowlers shared the wickets to dismiss Kinloch for 87.