Highland become Nosca champions after Ross County win
Highland Cricket Club clinched a first Nosca Senior League title since 2010 last weekend – but they were not able to make it a trophy double.
First up for the league’s only unbeaten side was a trip to Strathpeffer to take on Ross County, who still had ambitions of finishing second in the league.
It did not help that they were without a number of first team regulars, including opening batsman Euan Smith, but with their perfect record behind them Highland were high on confidence going in.
Irtaza Hussain struck quickly to remove Chris Blake, before Duncan Scott and Graeme Carney built a partnership for County.
Scott had reached 25 before he was bowled by Kacy Clement, but Carney would soldier on as he watched teammates lose their wickets at the other end.
Eventually it was Hussain that got him out, caught by Sunny Ullah for 81, but in that time County had gone about putting more runs on the board for Highland to chase than any other team has managed this year.
With strong batsmen missing, Highland may have been forgiven for having some doubts about chasing 191 for victory at Castle Leod.
However any fears were quickly dismissed by former captain Regan Francis and Ullah, who stormed on in pursuit of the win.
Francis (50 not out) reached his half-century, but Ullah was the star of the show, scoring an unbeaten 134 as Highland cantered to a 10-wicket victory.
These 20 points made Highland uncatchable at the top of the league table.
But the fortune did not swing their way in the following day’s Senior Cup final against Buckie.
In 2018 Buckie won a treble of the Twenty/20 Cup, Senior Cup and league championship, but this was their last chance of silverware in 2019.
Choosing to bat first, Highland struggled to get going and nobody made a big score.
Clement was the top performer with the bat, hitting 21, followed by captain John Paul on 14 as they posted 96 all out.
Highland’s bowlers, so often their saviours over the last couple of years, looked like they might just do enough as wickets fell.
But Buckie got over the line with three wickets to spare, denying Highland a trophy double.
Elsewhere, Northern Counties stayed in the race for second in the league with a 41-run win over Huntly, while Forres beat Elgin by a massive 208 runs.