Watts backs Carlton to lift top-flight title without him

Injured Carlton captain Fraser Watts is gutted to be missing out on this weekend’s final SNCL Premiership fixtures, but has backed his team to go on and win the title.

Watts will be nervously pacing around the boundary edge for today’s home match with Aberdeenshire and tomorrow’s trip to Arbroath as his broken finger suffered while on Scotland duty recently has not recovered. Nevertheless, he has faith in deputy Steve Gilmour to do the business and they know that victory at Grange Loan this afternoon will see the Edinburgh outfit lift the top-flight title for the first time in their history.

Watts said: “I really am frustrated not to be playing this weekend, but there is nothing I can do about it. I will be there watching the guys and it promises to be an exciting couple of days.

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“We cannot let our minds drift to thinking about the title though and the guys have to keep their minds focused on the job in hand, which first up is Aberdeenshire.

“They are a very good all-round cricket team with some useful players and we will have to be at our best to see them off. Our guys are on form right now though and they are playing some good cricket, I am looking forward to it.”

For today’s big match Carlton bring in Nathan Pietsch to the side, youngster Rajan Bhopal the unlucky player to miss out.

Cedric English needs just 11 runs to reach 600 for the season and Jason Trembath and Omar Ahmad need three wickets each to make it to 20 for the summer. Medium-pacer Ahmad is on fire currently and took five wickets in the win at Forfarshire six days ago.

The visitors travel south having defeated Arbroath last weekend and they will look to pro Gerry Strydom to get them off to a flyer with the bat after his 146 not out at Lochlands. And they have two of the top six leading wicket-takers in the division spearheading their attack with Chris West and captain Tyler Buchan always tricky to get away.

Carlton will certainly want to try and complete the job today if at all possible given that they will be missing Scotland caps Gordon Drummond and Preston Mommsen tomorrow as they will be on Saltires duty down south.

Second place Forfarshire host Arbroath today looking to take advantage of any slip-up by Carlton.

Captain Ryan Watson and his team will have been disappointed to lose to Carlton last time out, but they know that a victory today followed by another against Aberdeenshire tomorrow could yet see the trophy head to Broughty Ferry. And one player who is certain to be on a high is young wicketkeeper/batsman Craig Wallace whose competent summer has seen him secure a place in the Scotland one day and Twenty20 squads for the trip to Namibia later in the year.

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In the bottom four Greenock know that only two wins over the weekend will give them any chance of avoiding relegation.

They host second bottom Stirling County today and Drumpellier tomorrow and are boosted by pro Luke Butterworth being available for both matches.

Ayr’s prolific pro Michael Papps would need to score 144 runs in matches against Drumpellier and Stirling County to reach the much sought after 1,000 for the league season.

If he did so he would be following in the footsteps of South African Alistair Gray who reached four figures for Dunfermline Knights in 2010, but Kiwi Papps will be more focused on just helping his club stay up in the top flight.