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Highland humbling for Saints in opener

By Craig Christie

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FORRES St Lawrence Cricket Club's senior eleven got their north league underway on Saturday.

North cricket action
North cricket action

Saints' opening fixture saw them make the journey to Fraser Park in Inverness where Highland were waiting.

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Batting first, Highland put on a mighty 212 despite some good bowling performances from the Forres side.

Opening with Fraser Merricks and Steve Barron, Forres were tidy in the initial overs, claiming the wicket of Hussain in the fourth over, LBW to Barron, quickly following that up with a catch from Gus Farr to remove Crabtree cheaply for Merricks.

Ullah wasted no time, striking out from the off and with the opener Smith feeling his back they pushed for runs until change bowler Ferguson broke the partnership having Ullah caught close in by Tony Farr for 29.

Giridar Singh played an uncharacteristic innings, the runs came easily but with Smith retiring from the field due to a bad back and John Paul giving Jon Benn his first wicket Singh had to play around his batting partners.

Clement smashed quick runs before he was caught behind off Tony Farr for 22 and a brief innings from Nixon saw Farr claim his second wicket.

Finally Singh was wheedled out by the patient Jon Benn but not before he had made 42. The final pair pushed the score past the 200 mark leaving Forres with a tough task.

In reply, David Durance and Gus Farr opened up for Forres. Clement bowled wildly in his first over, the lack of control with a ball in hand is a frightening thing to see when fired in at such speed.

Removed from the attack after one over, the Forres pair settled in to see what they could set as a platform for their team mates. Farr was first to budge, Singh setting up a catch to remove Farr for 16.

Clement was brought back, bowling this time with more control and was gifted a leg before, Durance out for five.

Barron, Al Farr and Benn were removed cheaply as Forres tottered in the thirties as the wickets fell but then came a challenge from Fraser Merricks as he stood firm against the Highland onslaught.

Tony Farr stayed with him as Merricks cajoled the score past the 50 mark until Farr fell to Nixon and then Ferguson kept Merricks company until he finally fell, bowled for the top score of 27.

Nixon removed Ferguson leaving the two teenage girls, Olivia McGhee and Rachel Mitchell to stand at the crease. Thankfully pace was taken off the ball but the girls enjoyed a few overs in the middle, Mitchell even taking two runs off Nixon, until McGhee was bowled.

Four points for Forres to start their 2019 campaign. This week they face Buckie at Grant Park and Pal Dhami will be back.

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On Sunday the reserve side hosted Fochabers in the league, providing an entertaining game which featured some good performances from old and young.

Choosing to field first, Forres opened the bowling with Craig Scott and Cody Stirrat. Teenager Stirrat has developed well over the winter and his whippy action gave some pace to the ball but it was Scott who struck the first blow for the home side.

Rachel Mitchell and Olivia McGhee made the most of their weekend of cricket, forming a bowling partnership and sharing six wickets between them as they worked hard to keep the Fochabers middle order in check.

With Tony Farr and John Douglas also paired up with the ball, Douglas taking two for 17, the bowling honours were shared around. Still, Fochabers had set a big total, making 172 off their 40 overs.

Forres had opted to give Nigel Gerrard and Pal Dhami a run out in the reserves but their innings were limited due to their senior participation.

Gerrard opened the batting with Scott, despite having a badly cut finger sustained in the field. Scott was caught behind with 22 on the board bringing Rachel Mitchell to the crease. She enjoyed some batting time with Gerrard before he retired on 21, replaced by Dhami who gave himself some time to get his eye in and feel bat on ball.

Mitchell fell with the Forres score on 57, bowled for 2, bringing Stirrat in to get some time at the crease with Dhami but it wasn’t long before Dhami was retiring on 25.

Ferguson hung around for a while but when both batsmen fell cheaply in the 70s, things looked bleak for Forres reserves.

McGhee and Farr took the score past 80 before the former was bowled for zero, then skipper Jon Benn came in.

Farr was looking comfortable and clearly the pair decided that they would see how far they could take the innings to get batting points. As their innings progressed they became more confident, passing the hundred mark, milking the bowlers and as the 150 was in sight the fielding side became more frantic.

The mistake came at 156 from Farr who played a tired shot round the corner to be caught on top score 42 and despite his best efforts Jon Benn just couldn’t get the remaining runs as the innings closed on 164 for 9.

A really good effort from the Forres batsmen and an all-round good effort from the team who, with three juniors playing and contributing in a big way, have high hopes for the future.

This Sunday the Forres reserve side are at home to Ross County.

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