JOHN Blain produced a seam bowling masterclass as Eastern Premier champions Grange won the Cricket Scotland Grand Final with an easy win over Ferguslie at Lochlands, Arbroath.
The Paisley side went into the clash with high hopes of following Prestwick’s lead of last season to become only the second team from the west to take the title.
And when they restricted Grange to 184-8 optimism increased in the Ferguslie camp.
However, Blain had other ideas and the former Scotland, Northants and Yorkshire paceman called on all his vast experience to stifle the normally free-scoring Ferguslie batsmen and turn the game decisively in the Edinburgh team’s favour.
Despite putting on a solid 24 for the first wicket, the Western Premier champions were pegged back from the moment Blain trapped Michael English lbw.
The Grange player-coach went on to claim 5-20 from his ten-over spell as Ferguslie were suddenly reduced to 44-6 and then 58 all out.
Despite his heroics with the ball, though, Blain insisted the key contribution had been made by Tom Foulds and skipper Andrew Brock who provided a crucial 77-run partnership in what was a low-scoring encounter.
Blain said: “I know I got five wickets but the real game-changer was the stand between Foulds and Brock.
“It wasn’t an easy wicket and it’s a big oval so we knew every run was worth two and the pair of them got their heads down and put us in a good position. “We were always confident we could defend 185.”
Earlier the side from the west had made the ideal start when skipper Jamey Carruthers forced a miscue from the dangerous Gordon Goudie who was caught by English for just 11.
The Paisley side then grabbed the initiative with three quickfire strikes from Riyaad Henry. Playing on the ground where his famous father Omar made his mark a generation earlier, Henry first trapped Ryan Flannigan and soon after found the edge of Nick Farrar’s bat, Dave Stafford completing the catch as Grange continued to struggle.
They suffered an even bigger setback when the veteran Neil McCallum also departed cheaply, becoming Henry’s third victim when he was caught by Hamza Tahir to leave the Edinburgh side in trouble on 53-4.
The absence of the injured Dylan Budge and unavailable Preston Mommsen clearly left a big hole in the capital side’s middle order but a fifth-wicket stand of 77 between Foulds and Brock brought some respite before Carruthers returned to the attack to remove the former for a well-made half-century.
Skipper Brock made 39 before nicking Hamza Tahir behind while the Ferguslie attack continued to keep their discipline in restricting their rivals to 184-8 after their fifty overs.
Blain added: “It’s a great achievement for our club to be Scottish champions – we always say a clib of this stature should be winning trophies but you’ve still got to go out and do it.
“With Preston away, Andrew skippered the side today and played a captain’s knock. It is even more impressive from him because he hasn’t had that many opportunities to bat because our top and middle order having been going to well.”
Grange have the chance to complete a memorable treble when they face Heriot’s in the re-arranged Scottish Cup final on Saturday.