Dale up for the cup

New Clydesdale captain Zeeshan Bashir.
New Clydesdale captain Zeeshan Bashir.

IT’S all change in the structure of competitive cricket in Scotland once again, writes Mike Stanger, as the new season starts this weekend.

First up, it’s three consecutive Saturday matches of a revamped Scottish Cup.

Clydesdale also have a new sponsor in PSL Team Sports as they host the first of six games in the new league cup format, welcoming SMRH to Titwood, with home-and-away matches also against Arbroath United and Prestwick to follow.

Of the other top southside clubs, NVT Poloc have a tough opening game away to internationally start-studded Carlton, with Falkland and Greenock the opposition in later matches.

Weirs are away to APD Dumfries for their first game, in a group that also features Penicuik and Watsonians.

The league season doesn’t begin until May 12, when the revamped regional leagues are introduced, replacing the former national leagues.

Meanwhile, new Clydesdale captain Zeeshan Bashir made an impressive start to his responsibilities in a pre-season friendly against East Kilbride last Sunday.

The 24-year-old pharmacy student joined in a run-a-ball partnership of 90 with 17-year-old Scotland youth internationalist Lyle Hill.

Both players reached their half-centuries, confirming what is likely to be a new emphasis on home-grown players at Titwood this season.

The club has decided not to employ a professional this season, and has not been seeking an overseas amateur either.

Off-spin all-rounder Bashir, who has a number of Scotland B caps under his belt, was discovered 13 years ago when Clydesdale arranged a series of local school visits.

This year, the club will be relying on full Scotland internationalists Majid Haq and Safyaan Sharif to supply the element of top-level experience to drive his squad’s ambitions with bat and ball.