FPs eased to a comfortable 6 wicket win at a blustery Balmoral against a determined Crathie. Having restricted Crathie to just 95 for 9 from 46 overs thanks to a fine bowling effort from Glen Miller with 4 for 23 and Gary Stuart 2 for 20, FPs ground out the win with 11 overs to spare. Lord and Morrison shared 73 for the first wicket, with the result seldom in doubt.
FPs made 4 changes from the side which clinched the title last week, James Lord, Ian Johnston, John Youles and Glen Miller replacing Budd, Inkson, Eagles and Sam Knudson. Roland Knudson again won the toss and had no hesitation in bowling in chilly conditions on a soft looking pitch.
James Lord opened the bowling with Glen Miller and Lord soon removed Schunemann easily caught by MacDonald at cover for 4. Summers replaced him but did not trouble the scorers, Miller bowling him with a beauty. He then repeated the trick to remove Shore for 2 as Crathie stumbled to 23 for 3 in 15 overs.
The main contributor for Crathie was wides as FPs struggled to control the ball in the blustery winds, but when Stuart replaced Miller into the wind he produced a pearler to bowl dangerman McEwan for 2. He followed this up with an away swinger that was brilliantly caught by Clelland standing up for 1.
Moir who had bowled 8 overs for 7 down wind switched ends into the wind and instantly struck Miller claiming a simple chance at point to dismiss Poole for 4. By this time MacDonald had settled into a good rhythm and he picked up a wicket bowling Thomas for 4 as Crathie slumped to 58 for 7 from 35 overs.
They were soon 69 for 9 as first opener Cunningham finally fell caught and bowled to the returning Miller for 24 and then Miller had Slee well caught by MacDonald. Crathie did however finally raise some resistance as they added an unbeaten 26 for the final wicket, last man McAra hitting Roland Knudson for 2 sixes.
However 95 for 9 looked someway short of a par score and if it had not been for 28 wides it could have been far less. Miller was the pick with 12-2-23-4 but Stuart was also excellent with 7-0-20-2. James Lord was as accurate as ever 6-0-11-1 and Jerry Moir bowled and MacDonald bowled no bad balls in accurate spells of 12-5-15-1 and 7-2-9-1 respectively. Roland Knudson’s 2 overs cost 16.
With Budd unavailable Morrison was promoted to open with Lord and after 3 from the first over, they then failed to score from the next 7 overs as they reached 3 for no wicket in 8 overs as both batsman struggled to time the ball. In fact it took Morrison 24 balls to get off the mark and from 37 balls he had scored just 1. With 14 from 13 overs things were looking a little desperate but Morrison suddenly clicked into gear hitting a Bestick for 11 in one over, including a big six over long on.
Lord tucked away a lovely shot for 4 as the stand reached 38 from 18 overs. The next 5 overs brought 25 runs as Morrison and Lord picked off singles and Morrison hit a couple of fours. Morrison was nearly run out rightly sent back by Lord and Lor survived a tight stumping appeal. Slee then conceeded 18 from 7 deliveries to Morrison including 2 more sixes but with a 50 in sight, he top edged Slee to Poole attempting another maximum to fall for 47 from 68 balls. This left FPs well placed at 73 for 1 from 24 overs
New batsman Youles came and went quickly for 5 also caught by Poole this time off McAra and wickets continued to fall as promoted James Lord was bowled by Poole for 1. Miller ran himself ot for 2, Poole again involved and this meant Gary Stuart headed out for his first bat of the season promoted from 11 with 9 needed. He and Lord saw FPs through to victory, the win being secured by a wide. Lord having made a gritty 25 not out from 105 balls and Stuart unbeaten on 5.
The win meant FPs had managed to complete the league campaign unbeaten – which represented a superb effort. Next season in grade 1 promises to be a stern challenge but FPs will be hopeful they can spring a couple of surprises.