Cricket finals joy for Saints
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IT was celebration time for Forres St Lawrence on Sunday when they created their only chapter of cricketing history on the national stage.
Saints produced a thrilling victory in Perth to reach the final of the Cricket Scotland Challenge Cup for the first time (full report in this week's Forres Gazette).
They will now play for the chance to become Scottish champs against Fife rivals Falkland at Hamilton Crescent in Glasgow on Sunday, August 12.
The Forres win completed an incredible weekend for the club as they also won their way through to the Knockout Cup final by beating neighbours Nairn just 24 hours before their national success.
It was a strong Nairn team that arrived at Grant Park for Saturday's semi-final and it was a match that promised some good competition for both sides.
The home side were asked to bat first with Alex Green and Rob Nixon first up with the ball and Forres getting off to a good start with straight up and down bowling and a fast outfield helping the ball to run.
Dhami cashed in and before long 50 was on the board, 80 coming up in the 15th over with a big total looking on the cards but then Nigel Gerrard, in an effort to keep up with the run rate, helped a wide delivery from change bowler Dave Wolton to Alex Green at point.
A tidy innings from Gerrard who played some nice shots for his 13 runs.
Meanwhile, Dhami carried on scoring with David Durance in support but with the introduction of Richard Thomson conditions changed and suddenly swing became a factor leading to the loss of Durance who went for a full toss which was caught by Wolton at point.
The entrance of Gus Farr brought some normality back to the innings and th score climbed again but on 118 Dhami played a tired shot and the ball nicked through to the keeper giving Thomson his second wicket, Dhami out for 82.
With 22 overs gone Forres were left with a fair bit of work to do if they were to set a challenging total in the remaining eight overs.
Steve Barron struggled to get his eye in, playing and missing a few times, whilst Farr got on with it, then on 140 Barron guided the ball into the hands of John Sargant at gully giving Steven Neill a wicket in his first over.
Jon Benn replaced Barron, allowing Farr to take the ball as the score pushed on past 150, as good running from them pressured the fielders.
Then the final over from Neill which was frenetic. 167 for 4 at the start of the over but the loss of three wickets (including Farr bowled going for a big shot for 26) and some poor bowling which gifted runs left the final score at 177 for 7 off 30.
Jon Benn closed on an unbeaten 15, Steven Neill 4 for 16.
A score of 177 is usually a good total to defend but the Nairn batting line up looked stronger than usual.
Alex Green and Steven Annis opened, Annis taking two boundaries from Merricks first over but the bowler gathered himself for his next over and struck back, removing Green for two as he tried to pull the ball but edged through to the keeper.
Annis was successfully working the ball down the leg side until he walked across his stumps one too many times and Merricks trapped him LBW for 23.
Then in the same over Dave Wolton caught an edge from an out swinger which was juggled by Steve Barron at gully, leaving Nairn on 28 for 3.
Shane Hayward and Steven Neill were now at the crease but Neill played a senseless shot, holing out to mid on off Adam Ferguson and only two runs later (34) Sargant edged another Merricks delivery behind.
An early finish looked on the cards but Hayward and Forsyth stood their ground and enjoyed some time at the crease, pushing the score along to 71 when Hayward (on 29) edged off to Barron, setting up an over-the-shoulder catch for Jon Benn at point.
Rob Nixon put in some big shots but coming in at number eight limits his effectiveness and despite making 22 he simply ran out of partners as Adam Ferguson, once again, mopped up the tail end but not before Benn took the wicket of Forsyth (20) through a diving catch by David Durance.
The Nairn innings petered out to close on 112 all out in the 21st over, Nixon unbeaten on 22. Pick of the bowlers was Fraser Merricks, 4 for 23.
This Saturday Forres look to defend the James Kemp T20 trophy against Buckie and Highland at Elgin's Cooper Park.