We are the champions

PARTY TIME: Uddingston celebrate after clinching the title.
PARTY TIME: Uddingston celebrate after clinching the title.

It was celebration time at Uddingston Cricket Club on Saturday as the Villagers were crowned champions for the first time in almost 80 years.

Uddingston needed a win over last season’s winners Dumfries in their final match of the season at Bothwell Castle Policies to be sure of winning the SCL Western Division title.

And despite some nerve-wracking moments they got there in the end with skipper Bryan Clarke fittingly hitting the winning run.

Chasing their first title since 1934, Uddingston won the toss and Clarke invited Dumfries to bat first,

But things did not go well for the home side when Ricky Bawa, in the middle of his second over, badly injured his right thumb going for a catch and was unable to bowl the remainder of his overs.

Ras Priyadarshana and Calum MacLeod continued the attack but the openers made steady progress for 20 overs until, with the score on 74, Calum trapped Druce lbw for 27.

He repeated the dose in his next over when he had Griffith lbw for 41 and the next two wickets fell cheaply to reduce Dumfries to 86 for 4.

A 50-run partnership between McBride and Dawson ended when Vasu Reddy had the latter trapped lbw and with 13 overs left Uddingston scented the chance of finishing off the visitors for a low total.

But Dumfries had other ideas and in a final assault they posted a total of 209 for the loss of seven wickets.

Uddingston’s reply began in spectacular fashion.

It transpired that the umpires had imposed a five-run penalty on Dumfries for running on the wicket three times in the course of their innings and this together with a couple of four ball wides enabled Uddingston to stand at 15 for no loss after the first over.

But that was as good as it got for Uddingston openers Aamir Gul and Gowtham Rai as, by the end of the sixth over, both were out and their side were on a paltry 29 for 2.

Worse was to follow as Calum MacLeod came to the wicket only to lose both potential partners of professional Ras and Sammy Zia, taking the score to 44 for 4.

Uddingston’s chances of clinching the title looking slim with 166 runs still needed as the Scottish Saltires star was joined by Vasu to try to salvage something from the wreckage.

In an innings of inestimable value Vasu curbed his natural instinct to belt the cover off the ball and he and MacLeod put together a chanceless partnership of 93 before Vasu was caught behind for a vital contribution of 28.

With Uddingston now 137 for 5, 75 runs in 19 overs still required for a win.

Nick Martin joined MacLeod, who by this time had stroked a 74-ball half-century, and he too held back from his penchant for a big hit to play his part in a stand of 50 which left Uddingston only 25 runs from glory.

But disaster struck when MacLeod got a ball which kept low and was given out lbw for a magnificent 90 and the crowd fell silent once more as Uddingston struggled to get past the winning post.

Scott MacKenzie was next to fall at 200 for 7, followed by Nick Martin at 208 for 8 after contributing 23 in a highly responsible innings.

With only two runs needed to win - and with only the injured Bawa to come in as last man if a wicket fell - it was fitting that captain Clarke should be facing the bowling.

He blocked the first five balls of the 45th over before the most delicate of late cuts, or perhaps the luckiest of thick edges, provided the winning runs and sparked scenes of celebration.

Uddingston travel to West of Scotland on Saturday for the play-off final against Eastern winners Arbroath to determine the Scottish League champions. Start is at noon.